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Sunday, October 14, 2012

A Cuban dinner on the porch--no ocean, no jungle

The ocean in front and a jungle behind us were all we'd have needed tonight to set the Cuban atmosphere. But what we had was oh so pleasant--a nice breeze, just the right temperature, and dinner with two good friends on the porch.
I fixed a Cuban pork dish which I didn't realize Elizabeth had eaten before until she said, "I think that's my favorite thing of all the dishes you make." So simple, but you have to start it well ahead of time and pay attention toward the end. (I got to sipping wine on the porch and almost missed that part.) This is a recipe I first learned from an employee probably 25 years ago, but I have since found the same instructions in a magazine.
Use 2 to 2-1/2 lbs. untrimed pork butt. If the butcher will cube it for you, great, but I find their idea of cubes is much bigger than mine, and I usually end up cubing the cubes. Bring 2-1/2 cups water and 1 Tbsp. salt to boil. Put the pork in and turn to a simmer. Let it cook at least 1-1/2 hours, usually more, until the liquid is evaporated; the pork will then brown in its own juices and you have to turn judiciously.
While it's cooking, mix 1/3 c. lime juice, 2 crushed cloves garlic, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. pepper and 1/4 tsp. cayenne (I'm not a fan of cayenne and left this out). Serve as a dipping sauce for the pork, but also serve lime wedges on the side.
I thought I had enough for Cox's Army and was makng noises about leftovers, but the recipe says "Serves four" and we three had very little left over.
As a side I served black beans which were sort of an experiment. I used a medium size can, rinsed and drained; added 3 crushed garlic cloves (by mistake--thought I was putting them in the lime juice but it turned out great), 1 small onion chopped, and 1/4 cup chicken broth. Let the whole thing simmer almost as long as the meat cooks, so that the juices thicken.
You can also serve rice as a side dish with this but Elizabeth made us a simple spinach salad with olive oil/balsamic vinegar dressing, dried cranberries, and roasted almonds.
And, with Sue, my Fort Worth adopted daughter and former neighbor, we indulged in girl talk about loves and life. What a pleasant evening.

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