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{All Around Latin America} Guava-Stuffed Meatballs w/Minted Brandy Sauce a lo Cubano in Celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month

In the past I’ve not contributed to this {All Around America} culinary exploration series because I figured there was enough of my Cuban cuisine and culture represented all over this site. But I couldn’t pass the opportunity to share my recipe for Guava and Brandy Meatballs which I include in my cookbook ‘Modern Pressure Cooking.’ I first developed this recipe close to a decade ago when I was working on my first book proposal. Man… that was an interesting process that didn’t yield the fruit I nurtured. At least not at the time. The R&D and production wasn’t in vain, thankfully. I curated a handful of those recipes in my “one day” vault because I knew they’d be money one day.

Sure enough, when writing my book, I recalled this meatball recipe which I swooned over and took my Mother by surprise.

Any Latin or Caribbean person will tell you how guava a quintessential fruit enjoyed fresh off the trees, a super concentrated juice, or slathered as marmalade onto a wide host of canvases. In my Cuban home, guava was that sweet and kinda gritty slice we placed next to a slice of cream cheese, both to sit atop a Cuban cracker (basically, a really cheap snack to cover all pachangas).

But it wasn’t until I was developing that first cookbook concept that I thought it’d be brilliant to stuff pieces of gooey guava into a perfectly seasoned meatball.

For Modern Pressure Cooking, I tweaked it a bit to convey the evolution of my palate and understanding of my Cuban kitchen. While this recipe isn’t something I’d qualify as a classic Cuban dish, it’s a humble homage to a staple dinner we enjoyed as kids — meatballs — with a robust amount of that delicia so ubiquitous on the island. Not only did I stuff each meatball with chunks of guava but I also created this crazy good and delicately rich guava sauce thinned with Brandy and perfumed with fresh mint — another must-have in the kitchen.

When I first started food-blogging, my tagline was something along the lines of “Latin fusion cuisine.” These meatballs, with all their oozing goodness personify that marriage of varying countries’ ingredients, flavors, and techniques.

If your’e a meat-lover, I know you’ll love this! I hope you taste a bit of the diverse palate which makes up Latin America!

Check out my book, too, for classic, traditional, international and fusion recipes! It’s available wherever books are sold in stores and online.

Come back on Friday for another installment in this culinary series!

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with me and my friends! See more recipes from the Hispanic diaspora via the link below. ¡Buen Provecho, mi gente!

(*images are modified versions of the shots in the book by Ken Goodman Photography)

Eat well, love unapologetically, pray with true intention, and take care of yourself.

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Enjoy

Guava-Stuffed Meatballs with Minted Brandy Sauce as published in Modern Pressure Cooking 

Yield: 24 meatballs

Ingredients

  • 1 lb (455 g) ground chuck beef
  • 1 medium or large egg
  • 1⁄2 cup (120 ml) milk
  • 1 cup (115 g) unseasoned bread crumbs
  • 1⁄2 Spanish onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp (1 g) red pepper flakes
  • 1⁄2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp (6 g) salt
  • 1 (21-oz [595-g]) can guava paste, at room temperature, cubed, divided
  • 2 tbsp (28 ml) canola oil
  • 1 cup (235 ml) Herbed Beef Stock (page 167), or store-bought
  • 1⁄2 cup (120 ml) brandy
  • 1⁄2 cup (120 ml) freshly squeezed orange juice, without pulp
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup (60 g) finely chopped fresh mint, plus 2 sprigs for garnish

Method

In a large mixing bowl, combine the beef, egg, milk and bread crumbs. Using bare hands, bind all of the ingredients until the bread crumbs and egg are well incorporated into the beef. Set aside and cover. Place the onion and garlic in a food processor and pulse until both are finely chopped. If you don’t have a food processor, finely mince the garlic and cut the onion into a small dice. Add the onion, garlic, red pepper flakes, cumin and salt to the beef and mix well until all of the ingredients are combined. Take a golf ball – size scoop of the beef and make a 3- to 4-inch (7.5- to 10-cm) flat patty in the palm of your hand, creating a divot in the center.

Place 1 teaspoon (5 g) of guava in the center and gently round the beef into 2-inch (5-cm) balls. Place and separate them on a cookie sheet while you are making them. Heat the oil in the stovetop pressure cooker over medium-high or use the sauté function for the electric pressure cooker. Lightly brown the meat balls, stirring gently, about 2 minutes. Add the beef broth, brandy, orange juice and vinegar. Add the remaining guava and the cup (60 g) of fresh mint. Stir to combine all of the ingredients. Cancel cooking for the electric cooker, and close the lid.

Stovetop:

Set to high pressure (15 PSI) and cook over high heat for 10 minutes total.

Electric:

Use the stew setting, or set to high pressure (10–12 PSI) and 10 minutes.

When done, remove from the heat or turn off the cooker and allow the pressure to release on its own (natural-release), 5 to 7 minutes. Stir and adjust for salt. Transfer the meatballs to your serving platter, using a large slotted spoon. Ladle the sauce over the meatballs. Garnish with fresh mint leaves, chopped or whole.

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