Its bothered me for awhile that I haven’t included more Puerto Rican recipes. There are so many similarities with Cuban food, that I dip towards the more familiar Cuban side when in doubt, like a bird flying with one wing. Recently, I found a copy of Carmen Aboy Valldejuli’s classic, Puerto Rican Cookery, which I hope will restore the balance. There are many reasons to love this book. To name a few, words like carefully and thoroughly are in bold making the recipes more emotional while delicioso and sabroso are translated to”Caribbean” when no other word will do; Rafael Tufiño contributed illustrations; and there’s a sweet black and white picture of her husband, Luis Valldjuli serving her a rum drink from the chapter he contributed on the back cover.
With everyone flying home for the Thanksgiving holiday, I thought Valldejuli’s huevos al nido, a combination of baked eggs layered with mashed potatoes, was a fitting recipe to try first. I thought I could form the potatoes into tight little drums inside the individual ramekins to form an even crust. The result was a messier mix of potatoes and cheese with golden yolks peeking through. Not as smooth as expected, but even after a rough landing, you’re grateful to be home.
Huevos al Nido/Eggs in a Nest
Adapted from Carmen Aboy Valldejuli’s Puerto Rican Cookery.
1 pound potatoes
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup lukewarm milk
1/8 kosher salt
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan or Gruyere cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper
In a heavy pot, bring potatoes to a boil in salted water. Simmer covered until tender, about 20-30 minutes. Drain the potatoes and set aside until just cool enough to handle.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Peel potatoes and pass through a food mill or ricer. Add butter, milk, and salt. Grease ramekins.
Fill half of each ramekin with layer of mashed potatoes. Carefully break egg over potatoes and sprinkle with teaspoon of cheese, salt and pepper to taste. Cover with final layer of mashed potatoes and sprinkle with more cheese.
Bake about 20-30 minutes or until eggs are set to taste.
Thanks for the addition. Great blog!! It’s, not only informative, but easy to navigate. You have a great fusion of style and substance. You always inspire me to get myself into the kitchen and start creating. Felicidades!!
Jennifer Lopez opened Madre’s in Los Angeles and called the food Cuban not Puerto Rican. They are not similar. She would have opened a Puerto Rican restaurant? Why celebrate the food of another’s country and not your own. People have brought Cuban recipes to the island and called them their own. They served President Obama on a recent trip to their island a Medionoche (heresy this is Cuban). They NOW sell pastelitos de guyaba and carne and claim they are Puerto Rican creations. The list goes on and on. I’m a stickler about national indentity and culinary items are part of that identity. Puerto Rico is about 1/20 the size of Cuba with its residents leaving the islands by hoardes because of historical poverty. Pre-Castro Cuba’s currency was at par with the U.S. dollar in 1959 making Cuba the predominant culture in the Caribbean. Wealth has its benefits. It fosters the arts. Cuba had excelled at all the arts (the kitchen neing one of them) at the time of its social upheavel. The food/dishes/restaurants one finds in NYC are not the same as you find in a place 1/20 its size who also happens to be impoverished. Traditionally Puerto Rico has been famous for its arroz con gandules, morcilla, pasteles de plantain, chayote dishes, asopao and Mofongo.
I try to cover a variety of recipes on this blog from all over Latin American and the Caribbean to celebrate both are similarities as well as our differences. In this case of Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico, it’s natural that there will be more overlap in our cuisines and we’re all richer for it.