Sunday, July 08, 2007

Yuca: Experimenting With A New Starch

Until last night, Yuca (AKA cassava: see Wikipedia for more) has been something that came with the chicken sometimes at Flor De Mayo. As the weather gets hotter, however, I have been thinking about new, and somewhat tropical things to make with dinner. Even if that dinner is a Texas style smoked brisket. And so I asked our friend Robin to bring out yuca to Fire Island, which she gracefully did. Yuca turns out to have the hardest, stringiest peel in the world, so actually getting to the usable vegetable turned out to be my first challenge. There is no way to use a peeler: use a sharp knife, carefully. The yuca flesh should be quite firm, like a raw potato. There is a mushy part running through the Yuca: cut this away. The flesh should be white. One of the yuca I had did have little black flecks, and this particular one may have been a bit more bitter than its brethren.

I decided to make the yuca with with garlic, butter and oil. Its a bit of a process. The overall results of this recipe are mixed: everyone liked the flavor, but some people thought I should have cooked the yuca more. Of course, others thought it was perfect as it was. I am not sure there is a right answer, as the yuca does tend to fall apart as it is cooked. Having said that, this recipe as a "mashed" recipe would be pretty darn good.


2 or 3 pounds of raw yuca, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 whole grilled clove of garlic, peeled and smashed
salt (for amounts see below)
One stick unsalted butter
At least 3 to 4 tablespoons of oil (I used olive oil, but some people may not regard this as "authentic." It does taste good)


A large pot to boil the yuca in
It would help to have an extremely large skillet to fry everything in. I did not out here but I imagine crunchier yuca if you can do it


Add water to the pot, as well as a goodly amount of salt. When the water boils, add the yuca. I boiled it until it became fork tender and then a little more (15 minutes or so). Again, based on the response, you may want to boil it a bit more but the yuca does fall apart. When ready, remove to a bowl.

Add the butter, garlic pieces (they will fall apart while cooking) and oil to the skillet. Heat up and add yuca. Turning every now and then to avoid burning, sautee. The yuca will turn a bit brown on the edges. Add salt and pepper (I didn't but you can) to taste and transfer to a bowl. Add parsely and serve.

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