Hispanic Kitchen

Spice It Up!

I’ve moved more than a half-dozen times in my adult life. Like many people, with each move I lessened the load. This meant as my life became more (or shall we say totally) digitalized, “lessening the load” meant getting rid of cookbooks.

Yes, I loved them but the fact was I no longer looked at them. Didn’t have the time or inclination because truth is I had already begun to develop my own style in the kitchen.  And, if I had a question, there’s always my friend Mr. Google. 

But, I kept a few favorite or specialty books like Puerto Rican Cookery (the English version of Cocina Criolla) which I probably own since its publication in 1975. One of the most dog-earred, food stained and annotated pages in the book is Chicken Fricassée. 

A-ha. A lightbulb goes off. Now that I think about it, this may have been my introduction to one of my favorite culinary 3-ways. I love what prunes or raisins do to a savory stewed meat dish, especially when it’s paired with salty capers and olives and a little acid (lime, orange, vinegar). I’ve embraced that technique and presented it in many dishes on FOODalogue.

So, what’s short ribs got to do with chicken fricassée? A borrowing of technique is the answer. That salty-sweet-acidy marriage I love and that is found in so many recipes from Latin America.

Therefore, with homage to Carmen Aboy Valldejuli for showing me the way many years ago, here’s a dish that was inspired by the book.



Puerto Rican-Style Short Ribs


Yields 2 servings


  • 1½ lbs. beef short ribs
  • ¼ cup Naranja Agria (Bitter Orange)*
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • dry seasonings to taste salt, pepper, cumin, packet Sazon or adobo
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ cup red wine
  • 1 tsp capers
  • 1 tbsp Spanish olives (pimento stuffed green)
  • 1 bell pepper sliced thin
  • 1 capful apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup dried plums (prunes)
  • ¼ cup yellow raisins
  • 4 baby potatoes



  1. Salt and pepper beef well.
  2. Marinate beef in bitter orange, olive oil, dry seasonings, lime juice and garlic.
  3. Sear meat in heavy pan.
  4. Add remainder of ingredients, including marinade, and bring to a boil. But not potatoes.
  5. Lower heat, cover and simmer for about 1 hour or until meat is tender and fall-off-the-bone.
  6. Add potatoes about halfway through the process and cook till fork tender.


Finishing Touch: A few sprigs of cilantro.


Last word. A dish like this is generally served with rice and potatoes, but I could not “in good conscience” double-carb … although I definitely wanted to! :)

*you could substitute orange juice



Views: 8217

Tags: Cocina Criolla, Puerto Rican, Ribs, Short ribs, beef, olives, potatoes


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Comment by Nancy A Martinez-Barone on July 5, 2011 at 1:54pm
I have that same book and use it often to cook but I never thought about changing up the meats Thanks for the idea.

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