Friday, July 9, 2010

Outside it's America

It doesn't get more American than the Midwest, but sometimes I forget I'm living in America. Considering I spend more time online than outside, I tend to ignore where I'm situated. Of course, Miami was a different story. You'd be surprised how many Americans consider Miami a foreign country, I mean they don't even speak English there! I only remember I'm in true Americaville when I want diversity. The remedy is Chicago.

I have mentioned before on this blog that I live two hours outside of Chicago, but due to obligations, I don't get out there too often. These pictures are from a couple years back.

I brought up the subject of Chicago again because my daughter was there with her boyfriend a couple of weeks ago for the Taste of Chicago which is a food festival that takes place in the week leading up to the fourth of July. They came back salivating over a fried food that consisted of plantain stuffed with pork. What was it called? I inquired. They had no idea. Well what country was it from? They shrugged their shoulders. I remembered that Sharline, one of my faithful followers, had asked me if I knew how to make alcapurrias. I googled it, showed the pictures to my daughter and... bingo, yes that was what they ate. I've never had it, and obviously never made it.  This is a Puerto Rican recipe.

I set out today to find the ingredient for this recipe that I found at Rican Recipes dot com. Click here.

Ingredients for the batter:

5 green bananas (Chiquita Bananas)
1 lb. taro root (yautía)
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vinegar
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 small envelope sazón with annatto (achiote) coloring
Lots of vegetable cooking oil for deep frying

Thoroughly wash the yautías then peel. Peel the green bananas and wash with salted water. Finely grate the bananas and yautías then add the salt, vinegar, oil and sazón. Mix well and set aside.

The Filling:

Okay, so I never got this far. Let me tell you about my odyssey. I went on a quest to find really green bananas (I was hoping to find plantains). I thought for sure that Walmart would have them. No. Then I went to another local grocery store...No. The most I could find were sort of green Chiquita bananas that were turning yellow before my eyes, but I bought them anyway. I researched taro root and figured I could substitute with malanga which I had frozen a couple of months ago. Salt, sure. Vinegar, yep. Sazón with annatto – I've never used this before and had no idea what the spices involved were, but I was lucky to find it at Walmart. Vegetable oil...ditto.

I have to tell you that I put all day into this. What follows is a "Don't let this happen to you" post.

Mistake #1. The bananas weren't green enough and too large.

Mistake #2. My frozen malanga was, well, frozen .... and I had no idea how much of it would be the pound the recipe called for.

Mistake #3. I started grating, and the bananas immediately turned into mush. The malanga was another story ... not a pretty one.

Mistake #4. I went ahead and added the remaining ingredients when I could already tell that there was no way I could form this into a ball.

Mistake #5. I still believed I could save it. It needed more malanga, and and and I'll grate it in the food processor!

Mistake #6. I was delusional. This will work I thought. I pulled out the instructions: On the palm of your hand, spread about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the mixture and make a shallow well. Spread 1 1/2 teaspoons of the filling mixture and cover the filling (meat) with the banana mixture all around. In a deep fryer or deep frying pan, heat lots of vegetable oil to cover the alcapurrias. Fry until slightly crispy..... But I had no filling, wait, I had made meatloaf.... it was in the fridge. I'll test it with that.

Mistake #7. Ah ha! That's what it looks like on the internet. I made it! Now the taste test. FAIL!


  1. This is a GREAT post and I am not delusional..... at least not right at this moment....

  2. As soon as I started reading about what Frances ate I knew you were t alking about alcapurrias. I'm so sorry it was a failure! But I am glad you shared it with us! It was a great post and we appreciate the disaster. That way, we can avoid it! :-D I need to find a good PR restaurant and get me some. I remember that where I used to go to get them they made them two different ways: one with just plantains and another with just yuca. They are sooooooooo good!!! Have you ever had them? Oh my goodness...just so good! I would get them all the time when I lived here before I got married, but after I moved away they closed the restaurants where I would get them. So now that I moved back I need to find a new place.

    I also loved the pictures you shared of Chicago! I lived 2 1/2 hours away from Chicago when I lived in Indiana. We would try to go to Chicago at least once a month.

    Anyway, maybe next time the recipe will work out!

  3. Here is another recipe for ones made with yuca

    And here's another one from The Food Network

  4. Yeah as soon as I saw the regular eating bananas in the recipe I was like FAIL lol. sorry

    but yeah the alcapurrias I'm used to are made from grated yuca (grate it on the finest part of grater), filling is picadillo.

    U might want to youtube videos of ppl. making it to see the filling process.

  5. I don't know if I have the courage to try this again any time soon since I've never had it, and I don't know what I'm missing. LOL. I can find fresh yuca here but not the green plantains. Either way, thanks for the recipe suggestions. I'm sure one of these days you'll see a post with one of them... hopefully not another disaster.

  6. I thought the same thing as Nathan when I saw the bananas. It's a shame I have some green plantains sitting on my counter as I type (no kidding) actually I have all the ingredients (yuca though) on hand right now (I always have sazon packets in the house too). I wanted to give you my plantains! I can't believe you can't find them

    Thanks for sharing your experience, I do like to hear the what not to dos too! I'm off to experiment with egg-roll wrappers and sweetened coconut in syrup!

  7. It didn't taste bad....just not the same as the alcapurrias.

  8. Hi I.M.,
    Love your blog (came across it on a Goggle Alert). I'm a Cuban-American in Chicago and can relate to having withdrawl symptoms for Cuban food. Which is why I launched Old Havana Foods.
    Hope you don't mind my offering an invitation to try my authentic, artisan Frijoles Negros. We offer all-natural, easy-to-prepare Black Beans & Rice through my on-line specialty food store, If you order from us we'll throw in a FREE "Chili Cubano" (Picadillo).
    all the best - Julian Crews Old Havana Foods

  9. I love that you posted your fail. That happens all the time, especially when I am using or substituting new ingredients. The recipe does sound delicious, and I look forward to hearing about it when it turns out right!

  10. Nathan-looking for youtube videos of people making them is an excellent idea!!! Thanks!

  11. Thanks for all the feedback. When my cousin was here last month she mentioned yuca rellena which I think is similar to alcapurrias. I bought some fresh yuca this weekend, and I'm going to be trying a similar recipe.