Growing up, Arroz a la Cubana is one of my favorite breakfast. I just love the combination of flavors and textures of this dish – savory, sauteed beef mixed with a slight crunch from the potatoes, carrots, bell peppers, then mix in the plump, sweet raisins, all these paired with soft, sweet, fried plantains, rice, and a fried egg. Sweet, savory, soft, and a bit of crunch all in one bite! I suggest that an extra bowl of rice be prepared alongside the plated portions just in case.
Tips and Techniques:
- Soak the raisins in warm water about 1 hour before cooking so they’ll be plump and soft.
- Sauté the beef on high heat until the mixture is dry and oil exudes from the mixture. Cook further for 3-5 minutes until the mixture is browned.
- Make sure to use ripe plantains. Plantains, like bananas, start out very firm and ripe and slowly turn yellow and then black. A ripe plantain is best when the skin is about half yellow and half black, and still slightly firm to the touch.
- As typical of Filipino dishes, you can easily make this your own. Add chopped tomatoes, green peas, sweet corn, or chopped green olives.
Arroz a la Cubana
For the Sautéed Beef:
- 2 tablespoons canola oil or olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 piece large onion, chopped
- 500 grams (1.1 lbs) lean ground beef
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground paprika
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1/2 cup diced carrots
- 1/2 cup diced potatoes
- 1/4 cup diced bell peppers
- 1/4 cup raisins pre-soak in warm water about 1 hour before cooking the beef
For the Fried Plantains
- 2-3 pieces ripe plantains
- canola oil for frying
- 4 pieces egg
- 4 cups cooked plain white rice
Make the Beef:
- On medium heat, saute the garlic in oil until golden in color. Add in the onions and cook until soft and translucent.
- Add the ground beef, salt, pepper, paprika, tomato paste, sugar, and soy sauce. Sauté on high heat until the mixture is dry (5-10 minutes) and oil exudes from the mixture. Cook further for 3-5 minutes until the mixture is browned.
- Add the carrots, potatoes, bell pepper. Stir, cover, and let it simmer for about 30 minutes. Watch and stir occasionally. You may add some water, about 1/4 cup at a time, stirring well to deglaze the pan each time. A caramelized sauce is what we are aiming for so don't add too much liquid at once or it will dilute the flavor.
- Try a spoonful of the beef and adjust the taste according to your liking - add some more soy sauce, pepper, or tomato paste. Set the beef aside will you prepare the plantains and eggs.
Cook the Plantains and Eggs:
- Cut the plantains on the slant to make 1/2" thick slices. Pan fry in a little bit of oil, preferably on a non-stick pan until golden brown and cooked.
- Fry the eggs individually as preferred.
- Portion 1 cup of rice, a few plantain slices, a fried egg and a quarter of the meat on a plate. Enjoy!
(Note 2) Make sure to use ripe plantains. Plantains, like bananas, start out very firm and ripe and slowly turn yellow and then black. A ripe plantain is best when it’s about half yellow, half black, and still slightly firm to the touch.
(Note 3) You can easily make this your own. Add chopped fresh tomatoes, green peas, sweetcorn, or olives.