Panama was a tough one for me. I wanted to do something challenging, but it turns out the cuisine is pretty similar to the rest of Latin America. Where it diverged from the familiar, like in carimañolas (stuffed yuca with meat), the suggested meat was iguana or gatosolo (racoon). Hell, I wanted to stretch my skills, but I just couldn’t go there…even though, living in FL, there are lots of iguanas around that I’d like to get rid of!
So, I kept looking for an idea. Then I found arroz con tities y coco. I must admit, much like a pubescent school boy, I was intrigued by ‘tities’ (giggle), but the recipe turned out to be baby shrimp and rice cooked in coconut milk. I wanted something more adventurous, so I went back to the carimañolas. Yes, I did!
No, I didn’t rope up one of the iguanas roaming around the lake outside Casa Nova. Instead, I decided to go the way of Cook’s Choice (one of the event’s options) and interpret this recipe in a contemporary way.
Carimañola is a Colombian and Panamanian dish that is a type of meat-pie. It is a torpedo-shaped yuca fritter, stuffed with cheese, seasoned ground meat, and fried. Carimañola is often served as a breakfast item. (wikipedia)
Changes to Traditional Recipe
First: Instead of iguana or gatosolo, I chose ground beef, seasoned it like the recipe and pan sauteed it.
Second: I used frozen yuca – who likes to peel that sucker? Boil for about 20 minutes till fork-tender and then mash with a drizzle of olive oil and kosher salt.
Third: Instead of making a croquette and deep frying, I chose to layer the ingredients and pop it the oven to meld the flavors.
Fourth: I topped it with chopped egg and a brightly-flavored chopped avocado salad.
I followed an online recipe for the fundamental ingredients and while this one didn’t mention cheese or boiled eggs, others did — so I went for the whole enchilada (oops, wrong country). I added a little cheese before it went into the oven and chopped egg when it came out. And, for presentation and to add a touch of acid, I topped it with the salad.
While some Panamaians may look at this and say, “ay caramba”, “cocinera loca” (crazy cook)…I’m here to tell you it was muy, pero muy, delicioso (that means really, really) and it had all the ingredients and flavors of the traditional version. It just wasn’t fried. And, it was unconventionally inside out.
Spanish olives w/pimentos
fresh lime juice
Blogger Round-Up: Wednesday, January 12
Next Stop: Alaska, January 16
Itinerary and event details.