A cuisine influenced by Spanish, African, and Caribbean cooking, Cuban food is a little intimidating for a home cook. The good news is it’s less difficult than you think. As long as you have the right seasonings, you can make your Cuban favorites right in the comfort of your own kitchen. Try your hand at these seven Cuban recipes, and you’ll be one step closer to mastering the cuisine.
1. Slow Cooker Ropa Vieja
First up is a classic Cuban dish known as ropa vieja. It’s made with skirt or flank steak in a tomato sauce base, then served over rice. Ropa vieja is comfort food at its finest, and this recipe from Food Network will show you how to make it in your slow cooker. Requiring only 15 minutes of prep time and serving 4, this saucy dish is one you should consider adding to your weekday rotation.
- 1 (15-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- 3 tablespoons ketchup
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1½ teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 jalapeño pepper, thinly sliced (with seeds)
- Kosher salt
- 1½ pounds skirt steak or flank steak
- 2 bell peppers (1 red, 1 green), sliced ½-inch thick
- 1 small onion, thinly sliced
- 3 tablespoons chopped pimiento-stuffed green olives, plus 1 tablespoon brine from the jar
- Cooked white rice, for serving
Head to Food Network for the full recipe.
2. Cuban-Style Chicken Stew
If you need a new stew recipe in your repertoire, try this Cuban take on the comfort food from Cooking on the Weekends. It yields a chicken stew that boasts both sweet and savory flavors thanks to garlic, chicken, potatoes, olives, raisins, and red wine. It’s a welcome change from chicken and noodles.
- ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
- 2 cups thinly sliced brown onion
- 4 medium-sized garlic cloves, stems removed and roughly chopped
- 1 (approximately 3¼-pound) whole, cut chicken — skin off, bone in
- ¾ pound russet potato, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
- 1 cup chopped, roasted, peeled red bell pepper
- ¼ cup capers
- 1 cup Spanish olives stuffed with pimentos
- ¾ cup raisins (golden or black)
- ¾ cup frozen peas, thawed
- ¼ cup fresh lime juice (about 1 large lime)
- ¼ cup fresh orange juice (about 1 small orange)
- ⅓ cup dry red wine
- 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes in tomato juice
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Head to Cooking on the Weekends for the full recipe.
3. Medianoche Sandwich
It’s sandwich time, and after one look at this food formula from Saveur, you’re going to want to eat this one for lunch and dinner. The dish gets it name from the bread, an eggy type that’s similar to challah. You’ll pile plenty of ham and pork loin on the roll along with mustard and cheese. This recipe serves 4, but you may want to make extra for later.
- 1 (1-pound) pork loin
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 medianoche bread, or challah
- ½ cup yellow mustard
- 1 pound sliced deli ham, halved
- 8 slices Swiss cheese, halved
- 4 dill pickles
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
Head to Saveur for the full recipe.
4. Cubano Sandwich
Here’s another Cuban sandwich that’s wildly popular. Epicurious features a recipe that’s especially good. The cubano is a close cousin to the aforementioned medianoche sandwich, but the crusty bread the ham, pork, and cheese are served on makes all the difference. It’s up to you to decide which you like best.
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt plus 1 tablespoon
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground mustard
- 1 (2-pound) boneless pork shoulder, tied in an even roll
- ½ cup Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon ground mace
- 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon Spanish smoked sweet paprika
- 4 (6-inch) light crisp-crusted bakery rolls
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- ¾ pound best-quality domestic ham (unglazed), thinly sliced
- ¼ pound Swiss or Gruyère cheese, thinly sliced
- 1 large dill pickle, thinly sliced lengthwise
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Head to Epicurious for the full recipe.
5. Cuban Red Beans and Rice
This recipe from Martha Stewart yields a dish everyone can enjoy. The beans are seasoned with onions, peppers, garlic, cumin, and oregano. Best of all, the rice cooks right in the same pot, so you won’t have to dirty another dish. This recipe proves delicious food can be both inexpensive and easy.
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ white onion, diced small
- ¼ green bell pepper, diced small
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- Coarse salt and ground pepper
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves
- 1 cup long-grain white rice
- 1 (15.5-ounce) can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
Head to Martha Stewart for the full recipe.
6. Cuban Escabeche
Cuban cuisine also includes plenty of seafood and this recipe from Taste of Cuba is one of our favorites. According to the recipe, escabeche is cooked, pickled fish. That might sound a little strange, but one taste will totally change your mind. First, you’ll cook the fish and some veggies, then marinate everything in oil and some seasonings. Serve it with crackers for your next get-together.
- 3½ pounds swordfish or fresh tuna cut into ½-inch-thick slices
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1½ cups olive oil
- 2 large onions, sliced
- 2 large green peppers, sliced
- 1 cup olives
- ½ cup capers
- 1 tablespoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- A mixture of equal parts apple cider vinegar and olive oil, enough to cover the ingredients
Head to Taste of Cuba for the full recipe.
7. Cuban Mojo Marinated Pork
Last but not least: Cuban mojo marinated pork from The Food Charlatan. The trick to this recipe is marinating the meat in mojo, a mixture of orange zest, orange juice, lime juice, cilantro, and mint. After letting the pork marinate, the oven does the rest of the work. It takes about 2 hours, but trust us when we say it’s worth the wait.
- ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- ¾ cup fresh orange juice
- ½ cup fresh lime juice
- 1 cup cilantro, finely chopped
- ¼ cup lightly packed mint leaves, finely chopped
- 8 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon minced oregano (2 teaspoons dried oregano)
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- Kosher salt and pepper
- 1 (3½-pound) boneless pork shoulder
Head to The Food Charlatan for the full recipe.