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Cuisine

Yucca balls, a great conversation starter

9/20/12 | By Paul Suplee, CEC PCIII

 Only two more weekends and then I can almost take a deep breath.  The season has wound down and we are now into the nitty gritty details of end-of-season cleaning, closing and planning for next year.

With so much going on around us, and with the holidays rapidly approaching (Yes, I said it) it is time to hammer out a game plan to survive the next three months.

By the end,  I will have a semester under my belt as a college professor and will be enjoying the holidays.

One of the greatest parts of my job is that I can focus on the curriculum, delving into the materials as I had hoped that I could.

I have already completed one class and with five more to go this semester, I am enjoying the concentrations: Healthy cooking, International, American Regional, Introduction to Food Preparation and Desserts & Pastries.

It is a heavy load, But what I love most is that I can concentrate on the subject matter.  On New England day, we studied and cooked the days of New England.  In International Cuisine, if we are studying the Caribbean, we actually get to cook foods from that region.

It is an earth-shattering theory, I know, but as simple as it may seem, I am new to this aspect of teaching and I am thoroughly enjoying every bit of it.

The downside to being a 'why guy' as I call myself is that I try to make sense of everything in a very short period of time.  In youth, in the Marines and while at college, I was the dork who who tugged on the teacher's shirt (be them a parent, Drill Instructor or professor) reiterating "but, why?  But, why?  But, why?"

As such, I am guilty of providing too much material given the time and resources at hand, trying to cram what I think is important in a relatively short lecture.  I stop only when I see students' eyes swimming in their heads.

And when we get to that point, I stop, close the book and move the group into the kitchen for the practical part of the class.  Being realistic, this is the reason that most of the students are here in the first place.

For our Mexico and South America module, over in a blink of an eye, I was drawn to the yucca preparation that was in our textbook.  While the recipe below is not a spitting image, it is still very close and delicious.

If you're not sure what a yucca is, just go to the produce section and look for the root vegetable that is the shape of a sweet potato and the rough appearance of an armadillo.  Sound delicious?

These yucca balls resemble croquette, substituting yucca for potato and are fantastic served with a dipping sauce, as an appetizer or as a side dish.  They are the perfect snack before a party and great for conversation.

I think I may throw a party in a couple of weeks to celebrate the end of summer, and you can rest assured that these bad boys will be there with me.

Yucca Balls

8 oz. yucca root

2 oz. bacon

1/4 ea. Medium white onion, finely diced

2 Garlic cloves, minced

1/2 c. heavy cream

2 Tbsp. Unsalted butter

Salt & Pepper to Taste

2 Tbsp. Scallions, finely sliced

2 whole eggs

Queso Fresco, to taste

Egg wash, as needed

Bread crumbs, as needed

Cilantro Mayonnaise (recipe follows)

1.    Peel the yucca and cut into 3 inch pieces

2.    Set in salted water and bring to a boil

3.    Reduce to a simmer and cook until yucca is fork tender

4.    Split the yucca in half and remove fibrous middle.  Just think of the core of the carrot which you can eat.  In a yucca it can have too much fiber to make it palatable to your guests

5.    Set aside until ready to mash

6.    In a fry pan cook bacon until crispy and the fat has rendered out

7.    Add onions and cook until the water has mostly cooked out

8.    Add garlic and cook to soften and infuse flavor

9.    Now the onions and garlic will be easy to work with so add the heavy cream and butter

10.    Add this mixture to the yucca root and mash until smooth (there will obviously be chunks of bacon and that is fine) **If you have a food mill, run the yucca through there before adding it to the rest of the ingredients

11.    Add scallions and eggs and your yucca ball is almost done

12.    Make the yucca balls a touch smaller than a golf ball and poke a small piece of cheese in the middle of each one

13.    Set up a breading station and bread in the following order; flour, egg wash and seasoned bread crumbs. You may refrigerate them at this point for up to a day

14.    Deep fry until the centers are hot and they are golden brown.  Serve with cilantro mayonnaise

Cilantro Mayonnaise

1 c. Mayonnaise (fresh is better, but use pasteurized eggs)

Juice and zest of 1 lime

1 ea. Garlic clove finely minced

1/2 c. Cilantro, stems and leaves cleaned

S&P to taste

1 ea. Jalapeno, finely diced

1.    Combine all ingredients and let sit for at least an hour to let the flavors marry

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