Good morning. The journalist, historian and cookbook author Von Diaz brought together her essential Puerto Rican recipes for us this week, dishes that she calls foundational to her understanding of flavor, “a culinary mejunje, or mix, of Indigenous, African, Spanish and American ingredients and techniques.”
Her essay on the subject is itself essential reading, and I think you’ll want to get into the recipes in your kitchen this week, building on her sazón and sofrito to make all manner of deliciousness.
You might start with pollo en fricasé, braised chicken thighs in a rich, oniony, tomato-based sauce with garlic,
They are stories of creativity and tradition, blending colonial ingredients with ancestral cooking techniques. Take pernil, the coveted garlic-and-herb-marinated pork shoulder that is traditionally slow-roasted whole over coals. On the island, there’s an entire stretch of highway through densely forested Guavate — La Ruta del Lechón — dedicated to pork made with precision by families committed to the craft.
These dishes celebrate the contributions of the tens of thousands of Africans taken to the island in bondage, who introduced processes like deep frying, among many other things, and who are credited with cultivating rice, the cornerstone of the Puerto Rican