The first place I had Cuban food was a restaurant called Havana in West Palm Beach, FL. The second place I had Cuban food was Havana in WPB – about three days after the first time.

Boliche & Brown Rice

You can see the roasted garlic in the lower corner of the piece on the left, and the delish ham stuffed in the middle of the piece on the right. Yum!

The Pretty One and I were in Florida visiting relatives and the beach. When we arrived I told my cousin I wanted to try some Cuban food in Miami. I’m not sure where I got the idea I needed to try it, but it was probably from one of those food shows I watch way too often. As luck would have it, my cousin said they lived within blocks of an excellent Cuban restaurant, and plans were made!

I enjoyed the food; The Pretty One enjoyed the view. The young lady who seated us was gorgeous! So when asked where we wanted to eat on our last night in town, I chose Havana and The Pretty One agreed.

Several years later I still remember the ropa vieja, the rice & beans, and the plantains. Contrary to what many people think, Cuban food is not spicy. It’s flavorful, but it doesn’t carry a lot of heat. Cuban food is good, down-home comfort food. Simple ingredients, simply prepared. For the most part, Cuban recipes use ingredients you can find at your local grocery store, although some items you might need to hunt down at a specialty store or online.

I started looking for recipes before I even got back to KC, and couldn’t wait to make some Cuban food in my own kitchen! The first recipe I tried was this Boliche. Click for recipe. I couldn’t resist trying this roast that’s stuffed with ham, studded with garlic, browned, and then cooked in a wine mixture.Boliche I used a pork roast, but in reading the recipe for the 17th time, I realize I could also have used a beef roast.

This turned out to be a really easy recipe, despite the steps of stuffing and studding the roast. Don’t let those steps intimidate you. It’s not hard, and the pay-off is huge! The garlic roasts as you brown the meat, then infuses the broth with a wonderful, mellow garlic flavor. The roast cooks on the stove for close to 3 hours, and the smell will have you watching the clock waiting for it to be ready!

Being cooked in a liquid keeps the roast juicy, even when you reheat the leftovers. I shared the roast with a friend, and we ate it with brown rice. The traditional beans and plantains would be great accompaniments, and if I cook this for a big family meal, I’ll be sure to include those.

Oh, and I should mention the leftovers make a great “soup” if you pile some rice, chunks of roast and broth in a bowl.

I’m certainly glad I ventured out to try a new cuisine, and have got another Cuban recipe in mind to try soon. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did!