Jorge Castillo: Ajiaco is a traditional favorite of Cuban farm people in the countryside.
Glenn Lindgren: It's a rich and satisfying stew that's full of meats and vegetables-a complete meal.
Raúl Musibay: It is so thick you can eat it with a fork!
Glenn Lindgren: Ajiaco brings together all of the culinary history and diversity of Cuba in one dish: the New World discoveries of corn, tomatoes, and malanga; the root vegetables from Africa; and the bacon, meats, and spices from Spain.
Jorge Castillo: Malanga, yuca, and boniato, give this dish a unique Cuban flavor. Go to your nearest Latin or Cuban grocery to find these essential ingredients!
The traditional favorite of Cuban farm people in the countryside, ajiaco is a complex stew of multiple ingredients -- a real tour de force.
INGREDIENTS:3 tablespoons olive oil
Lightly salt and pepper the chicken, pork, and beef. Dredge in flour; brown the meat (chicken first) in the hot, bacon-flavored oil. Remove the browned meats from the oil.
Put all the meats (including the bacon) in a large, heavy 8-quart stockpot; add the beef and ham stocks and red wine. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 1 hour.
Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Sauté the onion and green pepper until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic, paprika, salt, pepper, cumin, and tomatoes, and cook for about 5 minutes. At about the 45-minute point in the cooking, add this sautéed vegetable mixture and the bay leaf to the cooking meat and the broth in the stockpot. Let simmer for 15 minutes while you peel and cut the vegetables.
Peel the malanga, boniato, yuca, and calabaza; cut into cubes and add to the broth. Cut the corn and plantains into 2-inch chunks. Add the corn and green plantains to the simmering stew.
After about 20 minutes, add the semi-ripe plantains and the lime juice; continue cooking for an additional 20 to 30 minutes. The plantain and root vegetables need to be tender!
Thicken the stew slightly by whisking in the cornstarch mixed with water.
Just before serving, stir in the cream.
Serve hot in large bowls with Pan Cubano-Cuban Bread.
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