The way to his heart . . . from Marta’s Cuban American Kitchen

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The first time my husband (then boyfriend) was to meet my big, fat Cuban family, my mom made what we would consider a regular (albeit wonderful!) Cuban meal. I spent days and hours preparing Eric for the meet and greet. I explained our customs, our politics, what topics were allowed and what NOT to bring up. I could have written a complete guide to meeting the Cuban girlfriend’s parents. In fact, I still may. I think I’ll call it – “Huat to Especk if Ju Don’ Espik Espanish.”
I coached him on what to say to my dad. I told him how he was expected to treat my mom. I told him our island history and my family history. I told him the number and names of all my siblings and their offspring. I explained that if all else failed, to just nod and smile. I thought I had told him everything he needed to know.
For the dinner, my mom made a typical Fricasé de Pollo.
So it surprised me, after he passed the Cuban Family Review (with flying colors, of course), when he said:
“You didn’t tell me your mom was an amazing gourmet cook.”
“Umm… she’s not. She’s just Cuban. Like me.”

He proposed just a few days later. =D
Fricasé de Pollo
3-4 lbs. Chicken pieces, skinned
¼ cup flour
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp fresh ground black pepper
½ tsp. cumin
garlic powder
1/3 cup olive oil
1 cup red potatoes, cut into cubes
1 large yellow onion, diced
½ green bell pepper, diced
6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 cup dry white wine
½ cup bitter orange juice*
½ cup green olives (stuffed with pimientos)
½ cup raisins
1) Season the chicken pieces with salt, pepper, cumin and garlic powder and dust with flour.
2) In a large frying pan, brown chicken quickly in very hot oil. Remove and set aside.
3) Sauté the cubed potatoes in the same hot oil until lightly browned. Remove and set aside.
4) Sauté the onion, pepper, and garlic until the onion is translucent.
5) Add chicken back into the pan along with the rest of the ingredients.
6) Cover, reduce heat to medium low and simmer until chicken is done, about 40 minutes.
7) Serve over white rice.
If you’re using a pressure cooker, cook at high pressure for 15 minutes.
* Bitter Orange Juice (Naranja Agria) Recipe
If you can’t get bitter orange juice in your area, it is just as easy to make your own:
– 2 parts orange juice
– 1 part lemon juice
– 1 part lime juice
Update (Val): While I’m no somelier, I thought perhaps a nice pinot noir would go great with this delicious fricase recipe. And, since we’re being all Cuban about it, how about nice bottle of Cubanisimo Pinot Noir 2003?

CUBANISIMO 2003 Pinot Noir
Our 2003 pinot noir has been a great source of pride, as our initial offering from our vineyard under the name of Cubanisimo. Medium bodied, our wine displays enticing flavors of cranberry, blackberry and cherry which will perfectly compliment cuisine commonly enjoyed in Cuban and American cuisines. Aging magnificently. Only 100 cases left of the original production.


You can read all about Cubanisimo Wines right here.

7 thoughts on “The way to his heart . . . from Marta’s Cuban American Kitchen”

  1. Val, Marta: Salutations
    Please tell me, How can i get to all Martas’s recipes.
    i want to send them to my Cubanita daughter in South Beach
    I was looking for the “ropa vieja” but i want them all. Need them all.

  2. maruka –
    Go to the SEARCH bar on the right and type in ‘Marta’s Cuban American Kitchen’ and all my recipes (and stories)will be there for your gastronomical pleasure. =D

  3. Tomato Sauce should read 1 15 ounce can tomato sauce. I plan on making it at home tonight.
    Salsa de tomate deberia de ser una lata, no una lata de una onza.

  4. I love all these recipis. I’m gonig to brag now, please indulge me. My mom, que en paz descanse, was the chef of the Kany Club in Guantanamo circa 1955-1960. The Kany Club, named after me, Keni, offered classic Cuban food and ocasionally conjuntos with piano, violin, a drum or two and a singer. I grew up eating all these totally mouth watering dishes, from carne de puerco to cangrejadas to arroz con pollo, firijolitos negros and last but not least ajiaco. I can cook too as I was always watching her cook and it seemed that I was always hungry but no one can cook like my mom used to. I have a question, I remember my mom making a desert from tomatoes but I can not find a recipi for tomato sweets anywhere and I have been looking for years. Has anyone ever heard of this?

  5. oarmaswalker –
    Thanks for catching that. I use the small can of tomato sauce – but it’s obviously NOT 1 oz. =D
    I corrected the recipe to read 8 oz.
    kenko –
    That’s such a cool story. I personally have not heard of a tomato dessert, but I will search my ancient Cuban cookbooks and ask my ancient Cuban relatives. =D

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