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.