1. Ropa Vieja (Shredded Flank Steak in Tomato Sauce)
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Ropa vieja is THE Cuban dish of all Cuban dishes. It’s basically a meat stew, slow-cooked with onions, tomato sauce, veggies, and spices. As per typical Cuban style, it’s normally served with rice, beans, and fried plantains. Yum!
2. Croquetas De Jamón (Ham Croquettes)
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Bring on the fried goodness! You can get all kinds of flavors of croquettes, but ham is the most traditional and delicious. These little bites of golden joy melt in your mouth with gooey cheese.
3. Arroz con Pollo (Chicken and Rice)
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Even though it sounds simple, this is by far my favorite Cuban meal. Every Spanish-speaking country makes this staple dish in their own style. It’s not just rice; it’s saffron-infused, yellow rice with peas, carrots, and green beans. And it’s not just chicken; there’s a medley of spices and flavors going on there that I can’t even describe.
4. Lomo de Puerco (Cuban Pork Loin)
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Ever notice how the Cuban Sandwich is piled high with ham and pork? Well, it originated as leftovers from pork barbeques where the “lomo” is the prime cut.
The difference between Cuban pork loin and anywhere else is that the Cubans add fresh orange juice and lime juice to the brine as they cook the pig, adding that mojo-style flavor.
5. Papas Rellenas (Fried Stuffed Potatoes)
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Maybe you’re seeing a pattern here. Cubans aren’t exactly calorie counters or weight watchers. Cuban Papas rellenas are not only mashed potatoes—they’re fried mashed potatoes. And it doesn’t stop there! They’re also filled with meat, a spiced ground beef called “picadillo” to be exact. Mmmm!
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I obviously don’t even need a translation for this. If you don’t know what a mojito is, then stop reading this right now and go to a bar. The perfect cocktail for the summer, or in Cuba, year-round, with fresh basil leaves and lime juice. For extra flare, add mango or pineapple and get the truly Caribbean experience.
7. Pastel de Boniato (Sweet Potato Pie)
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Just like your (Cuban) mom used to make! This is a perfect treat for the fall. Enjoy this twist of the American pumpkin pie, with cinnamon and spices and all!
8. Fufú del Plátano (Plantain, Pork mash)
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For this fufú, you mix a whole bunch of mashed plantains, ground pork, lots of garlic, and olive oil. Then you sprinkle some cilantro and parsley in there and bam! You’ve got a great meal right there with bread or rice to soak up the juices.
9. Picadillo (Spiced Ground Beef)
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Remember that spiced ground beef in the fried stuffed potatoes? Well it’s also just as good on its own! It’s comparable to hash in the U.S., but definitely packed full of a lot more flavor and spice.
10. Quimbombó (Cuban Okra with Beef)
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Wowwww, a semi-healthy Cuban dish! Who knew? Okra is very low in calories and has more nutritious value than, say, fried potatoes, or fried plantains, or fried anything else they get away with.