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island joy Yucca Mini Tamales


(Empanaditas de Yucca) Makes about 24 | Gluten Free


This filling recipe features a “masa” (dough) made of yucca root instead of corn. If you can’t find plantain leaves, use parchment paper. Instead of tamales, you can also make and bake the entire recipe in a 9x13-inch pan: Layer plantain leaves in the pan. Cover with half of the yucca masa and top with filling. Cover with remaining yucca masa and bake at 350 degrees for 60–80 minutes or until set.


2 pounds frozen yucca ½ cup olive oil, plus more for brushing 2 ounces annatto seeds About ¾ cup low-fat (1 percent) milk


FILLING 1 pound lean ground beef 1 onion, chopped 2 cloves garlic, minced


1 green cubanella or Anaheim pepper (3-4 ounces), seeded and chopped 1 tomato, chopped 1 teaspoon dried oregano 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro 1 piquillo pepper or pimientos, chopped


1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and drained 1


/3 cup raisins 8-10 pimiento-stuffed green olives, chopped


2-3 large plantain leaves, cut into 24 (4x8-inch) rectangles


1. Defrost yucca. Mix ½ cup oil with seeds and warm at low heat for 8–10 minutes; let rest until cool and then strain. Discard seeds. 2. In a large food processor, purée yucca, adding milk, about half of the annatto-infused oil, and salt to taste, until the texture of stiff mashed potatoes. 3. Make filling: Sauté beef until cooked; drain excess grease. Add onion, garlic, and pepper; sauté until translucent, 5–8 minutes. Add remaining ingredients (except leaves) and cook for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. 4. Brush both sides of each plantain leaf rectangle with oil. Place 2–3 tablespoons yucca mixture on one narrow end; flatten (use wet hands). Put 1½ tablespoons beef filling on top. Roll plantain leaf, folding yucca mixture over filling; then continue to fold tamale and leaf, creating a rectangular packet and using entire leaf. Place on a rimmed baking sheet, seam side down. (Tamales can be frozen at this point; cover with plastic, freeze for at least 3 hours, and then transfer to freezer bags; thaw before heating.) 5. Bake at 375˚ for 15 minutes. Serve warm.


PER SERVING: 120 cal, 3g fat (2g mono, 0g poly, 1g sat), 12mg chol, 5g protein, 18g carb, 1g fiber, 57mg sodium


HOW TO USE PLANTAIN (BANANA) LEAVES


Plantain leaves add an exotic touch to cooking; they also hold in moisture and make a beautiful liner for any platter. Hispanic and Asian markets often carry large, flat, and inexpensive packets of fresh or frozen leaves. Keep frozen until ready to use. Thaw for 30 minutes or so; refrigerate unused leaves. Each leaf is huge—typically more than a yard long and about a


foot wide. Gently rinse under cool water. It splits easily, but you can still use the pieces; just overlap as needed. Pat dry and use scissors to cut to desired size. Use banana leaves the same way you’d use foil or parchment paper, but keep in mind they’re porous, so place wrapped foods in a rimmed dish to catch any juices while cooking.


32 deliciousliving | july 2012


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