In my life, I swear I don’t think I’ve ever had boliche. And if I did, I didn’t know it was named boliche. I didn’t even realize that "carne asada con naranja" (as it is named in the cookbook) was boliche until my mother in law pointed it out.
When I asked some folks at work about their boliche experiences, I was told that Galiano Supermarket had great boliche meat (Herald Top Chef Silvi) and that I had to ask the butcher to mechar (stuff) my boliche with a chorizo or ham (Ludas). Meat stuffed with meat? Oh yeah. My family was definitely in for a treat for Sunday dinner.
To make things even more complicated, I decided to throw in some Moros y Cristianos (M y C) to the mix. Why not? I had two full days to plan the extravaganza.
I figured I was going to need some professional assistance and help from the butcher at this Galiano place (off Douglas and Coral Way in Miami), so I asked my mom to come with me and we were off.
Recipe #57: Carne Asada con Naranja (aka Boliche)
As soon as we got to Galiano’s, I went straight through the produce section, picked up the onions, peppers, garlic, naranja agria (sour oranges) and regular oranges I’d need. I also found a plastic bag with black beans that I could use for the M y C and was off to see the butcher.
We can discuss the M y C vs Congri and the black beans vs red beans dilemma in person one day.
When it was our turn, the butcher turned to me and I quickly asked him (or, maybe it sounded like a bark because I was a bit nervous) to clean the boliche and stuff it with a ¼ pound of ham. He asked me how much meat I needed and said I wasn’t sure and that we were feeding twenty people.
Twelve pounds of meat should do it.
Twelve pounds of meat = two six pound logs of boliche.
Some babies aren’t even born at six pounds. This was a little shocking that I was bringing home what looked like two baby six pound dinosaurs.
Shake it off. You’re Cuban. Meat stuffed with meat. And race/religion fuelled beans for a side dish. Go get ‘em, woman!
Oh, and if someone would have told me that making boliche would take a true 24-hour time period, I would have…oh well, nevermind. I seem to say that quite often with this project.
Thanks to the butcher, the tedious part of the prep was done – the meat was clean and mechado with ham.
Thanks, butcher dude. There was no way I’d make a ham stick and make it fit in a meat log so easily.
I stuffed each meat log with prunes and then made my mojo in the blender. Garlic, pepper, sour oranges.
Pour into and over the baby dinosaurs that were put back in their original butcher plastic bags, cover with an onion and green pepper blanket and put the babies to sleep for three hours.
After three hours, I took the meat logs out of the fridge and started frying up the bacon.
Ha ha. Meat stuffed with meat, cooked in meat. Ha.
Once I had rendered all the fat, I fried up some minced garlic and quickly asked (read: screamed) for my husband to help me. I needed to put the six pound dino babies in the bacon fat garlic before the garlic turned black on me.
I was cutting it close!
Alas, hubby came in, placed the first six pounder in and flipped it a few times for me as the dino baby was nice and browned. Once it got the golden sear I was looking for, I added vino seco and the juice from the oranges.
I cooked this meat for an hour because over and over again I heard about how dry boliche can be and that you had to let it sit in juices, overnight, before fully cooking it.
So once the hour was up and the meat was about medium rare, I put it into a pyrex and let it go back to sleep in the fridge, with all the juices from the pot.
And then it was time for the second dino baby. Repeat: Bacon fat. Garlic black. Hubby help.
Recipe #222: Moros y Cristianos
Let’s not forget that the M y C need an overnighting of their own. Soak the beans in water. Forget about them while you sleep, exhausted from the pre-boliche madness.
When you wake up and you realize all the work you did – and the work you still have to do, you wonder how the ladies (abuelas and tias that slaved in their kitchens for us) really liked all this and why.
I sliced the medium rare meat with my electric knife. Without an electric fork, however. Moki never did find that electric fork she swore existed.
Beautiful round slices of meat, ham and prunes. So beautiful, you get that amnesia us moms have when we decide it’s time to have siblings for our first born. Same thing.
The ladies must have suffered from the amnesia as well.
Once the amnesia from the night before set in, this day was easy. The slices of beautiful boliche would go into a big pot with all the juices, onions, peppers and some potatoes (that weren’t in the recipe but my consultants made me include) over low heat until the guests arrived. Really, this dish was ready and simmering for when the family of twenty arrived.
And then, the M y C, which were also easy because once you finish with the black beans in the pressure cooker to soften and separate the liquid from the beans for cooking, you were well on your way.
I had efficiently asked the butcher to cut some pork into little cubes for me, so they rendered their fat quickly and I threw in my sofrito green paste made in the food processor with the Cuban trilogy (garlic, onions and green peppers). I added in the rest of the stuff and once it started to boil, I threw in the rice.
Wait, I forgot to mention meat recently. The rice had been toasted in some new bacon fat. Ok, resume your reading.
All this cooked over low to medium heat for 30 minutes and by the time everyone was ready, all I had to do was sprinkle some bacon crumbles and extra bacon fat over the top before serving.
Sunday dinner. What a blessing. With reactions just like the one from my niece below, it's no wonder the ladies sure knew what they were doing.