Alcapurrias Are a Puerto Rican Must-Eat
Image courtesy of Nuestro Stories.
After a long day at the beach in Puerto Rico, before the sun goes down, the best thing to do is to go to the kiosks or an outdoor restaurant and feast on freshly-cooked alcapurrias.
You can always have more than just one of this traditional Boricua deliciousness!
Alcapurrias come from the Middle Eastern/Levantine dish called 'kibbeh' that made its way to the Caribbean Islands.
The dough is made from starchy vegetables — grated green plantains, bananas, yuca, or cocoyams. The picadillo stuffing — a fragrant ground beef stew with olives and raisins — makes it pure heaven.
You can also vary the filling by using ground chicken, turkey, stewed crab, or salted cod to get the same tasty flavor as ground beef.
The burnt orange color of the alcapurria is because of the sazon con achiote — a spice and coloring agent extracted from the seeds of the evergreen Bixa orellana shrub — that is put into the dough mixture. Achiote, a spice from the bija plant, is commonly found in the Caribbean.
Biting into an alcapurria after it has been fried to perfection is also a delight. It’s crispy and crunchy, and with just one bite — you get the full impact of all its flavors.
I like mine dipped in mayo-ketchup sauce — a marriage of mayonnaise, ketchup, and lime — that goes with almost anything.
Here is the Alcapurria recipe:
For the dough:
- 4lbs yautía root, also known as malanga or cocoyam
- 3green plantains
- 1package seasoning with achiote (annatto) to taste
- 1tablespoon salt
- Enough oil to fry 15 stuffed alcapurrias
- For the filling:
- 1lb ground beef
- 2tablespoons sofrito
- 1teaspoon salt
- 1/2bell pepper, diced
These are the steps to take to cook a fine alcapurria:
Add the sofrito, salt, and bell pepper, and sauté for a few minutes in a medium-sized skillet. Add the ground beef and stir to break up the meat. Let cook until the beef is no longer pink, and remove from heat.
Next, peel the plantains and the yautía. Grate these ingredients, then mix until a smooth dough forms. Last, add the seasoning and salt to the dough.
Over a piece of aluminum foil or parchment paper, add a touch of oil to grease the surface. Then place a large spoonful of dough onto the foil or paper. Make a well or small hole in the center and fill it with stewed meat. Carefully mold the dough to close the gap.
To cook the finished alcapurrias, pre-heat the oil for frying. Carefully place the molded alcapurrias into the oil and fry for seven minutes on each side or until golden brown. When ready, set it over a paper towel to remove any excess oil.
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Susanne Ramirez de Arellano is a writer and cultural critic who used to be a journalist, television producer, and news director. She lives between San Juan and New York and is, at present, making her first attempt at writing a novel.