Thanks to Yenni for this special guest post. Looks/sounds delicious!
Since many people on this blog enjoy tasting different cultures through local restaurants, I approached PoP about writing weekly recipes featuring fresh, local ingredients that you can prepare at home. I learned to cook in my Cuban grandmother’s kitchen and have lived in various countries in South America, so Caribbean and Latin food are my specialties.
There is an abundance of beautiful, multi-colored varieties of squash at local groceries and farmers’ markets this time of year. High in Vitamins A, B6, C and potassium, among other essential vitamins and nutrients, squash has a soft texture and wonderfully complements ground beef. This recipe is very versatile; you can use any type of squash or pumpkin, stuff it with the picadillo, which is a Cuban-style ground beef, then bake it in the oven for about an hour.
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and begin to prepare the picadillo with ground beef, one yellow onion, two small seeded tomatoes, one green pepper and five garlic cloves. Using a frying pan lightly coated with olive oil, heat the diced vegetables, – garlic first, followed by the onion, green pepper and tomatoes about five minutes until fragrant. Add some cumin powder, oregano, thyme, pepper and a whole scotch bonnet pepper with the stem cut off and membrane and seeds taken out. Cover this mixture, which is called a “sofrito” used to give seasoning to dishes, and simmer for about 10 minutes on the lowest heat. Meanwhile sprinkle the meat with adobo, turning it to get it all seasoned, then mash the meat into the sofrito and add the autumn spices which will enhance the natural flavors of both the meat and squash: a cinnamon stick broken into two pieces, cloves, allspice, nutmeg and a dash of brown sugar. While the meat is browning, add a small can of Spanish-style tomato sauce (Goya makes a good one for about $0.35), this will bind the meat. Lastly, add raisins, dried cranberries, slivered almonds and capers.
Let the picadillo simmer on low heat while getting the squash ready to bake. Cut the top off close to the stem, then poke the center of the squash with a foke and scoop out all of the seeds. Add a drop of olive oil to coat the inside of the squash and seal in all the flavors, then stuff the cavity with the picadillo, packing it down. Place the lid back on the squash and stick a skewer in it to remain closed while baking. Bake for about an hour, then remove from oven and sprinkle the rim of the squash lightly with brown sugar.
To serve, cut open squash and enjoy! This dish pairs well with a crisp apple salad and Dominican style red beans and rice, as pictured.
If anyone has any questions or recipe requests, e-mail me at [email protected]