After posting the Guinness Braised Oxtail recipe a few days ago, I thought I should share the mashed cassava side I had with it. Like our dad and my younger brother, I’m a huge fan of ground provisions (aka provision or food) so I’m always trying to come up with different ways to enjoy these earthly goodness. This time instead of using the typical potato, I experimented with cassava (yuca, mogo, or manioc) and I came up with a delicious creamy cassava mash, enhanced with the wonderful nuttiness of an aged cheddar.
Not the typical Caribbean dish you’ve grown accustom to seeing here, but I’m sure as our culinary culture evolve, this cassava dish will find it’s natural place on tables across the Caribbean in the near future.
2.5-3 lbs cassava
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup evaporated milk (see note)
1/2 cup grated cheese (cheddar)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon butter
Notes: If you’re looking for a quick solution (not having to peel the cassava), check in the frozen section of most grocery stores and they will have already peel cassava. If using frozen cassava, do follow the cooking instructions on the package. I ended up using only 1/4 cup of the milk I mentioned above. Please have the 1/2 cup as your cassava may be a bit drier than the one I used and may need it. Additionally, if you want your mash more creamy… add all. I used an aged cheddar (orange color), but I really wish I had a white old cheddar as I love the distinct flavor and overall nuttiness of it.
Important: You’ll notice that I posted this dish in the ‘vegetarian” section of the website. If the use of milk and cheese is something vegetarians don’t use, I do apologize if I offend anyone. Without the use of physical meats, I opted to post it in this section. Please replace the cheese and evaporated milk with whatever you guys normally use in their place. Coconut milk would certainly add a new dimension.. just a suggestion.
Please use the video below (at the bottom of the recipe) as a guide, especially for peeling the cassava. Cut your cassava into 3 inch pieces length wise (remove the top and end and discard) and using a pairing knife or potato peeler, remove the outer skin. It will be a bit tough. What I normally do is cut a slit into the skin, then place the blade of my pairing knife to sort of lift the skin away from the body or flesh of the cassava. The next step is to remove the sort of woodsy vein from the center of the cassava pieces. Cut the cassava pieces down the center length wise and remove this sort of vein (see how I did it in the video).
Rinse the cassava and cut into similar size pieces. Then is deep pot, cover with cool water and bring to a boil. When it comes to a boil, reduce to a rolling boil and allow to cook until it’s tender. It may take between 20 and 25 minutes, but every cassava cooks differently for some reason, so a good test is to pierce with a sharp knife. If there’s no resistance, it means the cassava is fully cooked.
When it comes to a boil, add the salt and if you find any sort of frothy stuff accumulate at the top of the water, spoon and discard. After the cassava is fully cooked, drain well and get ready to add the other ingredients and mash.
It’s important that the milk is warm and not directly from the fridge. I heated it up in the microwave for 25 seconds or so. Add all the other ingredients to the pot with the cooked cassava and begin to mash to the consistency you like. Remember to taste for salt and you can certainly play around with the amount and type of cheese you use. If we had any Parmesan, I would certainly add a touch to this as well.
Tip: Soak your potato masher in warm water as soon as you’re done, or risk getting into trouble if the remnants of the cassava mash dries on. This is a heavy mash and not as light as potato, so be cautious if you plan on using a hand mixer to whip it. Almost forgot to mention… when working with raw ground provisions be sure to either wear gloves or rub some vegetable oil on your hands. You may find that your hands will itch if you don’t.
I wasn’t a huge fan of cassava growing up and even today it’s a last resort type of ground provision for me (when I can’t source dasheen, yam and/or eddoes). I find it a bit overly bland, so when I do cook it I try to infuse some added flavour with salted cod bits and other ingredients. This recipe I’ll be using frozen cassava that one can get in the frozen food section at most grocery stores. However it works just as well with fresh cassava (providing you know how to peel and cook it). If you’re a vegetarian ( I got a lot of talk the last time I suggested that vegetarians eat fish) you can leave out the pieces of salted cod.
1 package of frozen cassava (about 1 lb)
1 shallot sliced (or onion)
1/2 hot pepper
2 cloves garlic
1/4 green pepper (sweet) – diced
1/4 red, yellow or orange sweet pepper – diced (optional)
about 1/4 cup shredded pieces of salted cod
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
fresh cracked black pepper
* salt for cooking the cassava (see package)
Start by dicing and slicing the peppers, shallot, scallion and garlic. Then using the cooking instructions on the package of the frozen cassava… cook. In my case it called for me to bring 4 cups of water to a boil, then add the cassava, salt and allow to cook until tender (about 20 minutes).
The next step is to soften and remove some of the salt from the salted cod. Do so by placing it (I used boneless salted cod) in a fairly deep bowl and pour some boiling water over it (cover with water) and allow to soak until the water is cool. There are 3 options for buying salted cod, 1. bone in 2. boneless and 3 salted cod bits. The choice is all yours. After the water is cooled, drain and rinse with water and drain again. Then using your fingers or a fork, shred the fish into bits. Squeeze all the water out of it as best as you can.
By now the cassava should be fully cooked, so it’s time to drain the liquid out and set aside. In a saucepan add the oil and butter and heat. Then add the salted cod and cook on medium heat for about 4-5 minutes. After which you’ll add the shallots and garlic. Allow this to cook for a further 3 minutes or so (stir often). Now add the diced peppers and scallions and cook for about 3-5 minutes on medium heat.
It’s now time to add the cooked cassava and stir around so everything gets coated with the wonderful flavours of the salted cod, shallots, garlic and peppers. Cook for about 3-5 minutes and you’re done.
Let’s quickly go through the recipe one more time.
1. prepare peppers etc.
2. cook (boil as you would potatoes) the cassava
3. prepare the salted cod (if you get the salted cods bits, it would mean less work for you)
4. cook the salted cod and peppers
5. drain and add the cassava to the pot..cook for a few minutes and you’re done.
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