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.
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!