Buñuelos de Yucca
Growing up, I got to experience the beauty of the yucca root. A lot like a potato, yucca can be transformed into many delicious things. The amount of Nicaraguan dishes I've eaten over the years that feature the versatile root vegetable, amazes me. From dishes like vigoron, a cabbage, chicharron, and boiled yucca dish, to a dish previously posted on this blog, Mama Martha's Chicken Soup for the Soul, this gem is by far one of my favorite ways of eating it.
Just like my Nonno Favilli, I've got a pretty gnarly sweet tooth. And just like my Mimi Quinonez, I find myself constantly desiring savory things. Basically, I'm full time craving great food. This dish happens to be one of the most common things my tongue will yearn for at two in the morning. I doubt I'm the only person in the world that is up that late binge watching Queer Eye and craving fritters from the goddesses. Just like an Alabama Shakes record, these buñuelos will satisfy the shit out of your soul.
The savory combination of a hot yucca and cheese fritter, swimming in a sweet fig syrup, will have your taste buds twerking up a storm. Follow the recipe below and have fun binge watching Queer Eye on Netflix.
Step No. 1: Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium - high heat until the temperature reads 350 degrees F. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F and line a backing sheet with paper towels for the buñuelos to rest. You want the oven on 200 to eventually keep the fried buñuelos warm.
Step No. 2: Wash your yucca and begin to peel it with a standard peeler. It has very tough, waxy skin, so be carful. Once the yucca is peeled, grab a large bowl and begin to grate the yucca with a box grater (make sure you use the side with the small holes).
Step No. 3: Using the same side of the grater, grate the cheese into the bowl of yucca. Add the eggs, baking powder, and salt, and begin combining all the ingredients. Don't be afraid to use your hands, they're your best tool.
Step No 4: Once all the ingredients are mixed together, start scooping out (in heaping tablespoons) the mixture and placing them into hot oil. Place 4 to 5 balls at a time and fry until puffed and golden, 3 to 5 minutes. With a spider or a slotted spoon, transfer the buñuelos onto the baking sheet layered with paper towels. Repeat frying procedure with remaining yucca mixture, allowing oil to return to 350 between batches.
Step No. 5: To make the syrup, combine the sugar and water in a small pot. On high heat, whisk the sugar and water until the sugar has completely dissolved. Add the figs, fig leaves (if you have them), and cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low and simmer for ten minutes. Remove from heat.
Step No. 6: Serve the buñuelos hot, drizzling the syrup right on top, or by putting the syrup on the side for dipping. Enjoy.
Notes: This recipe requires yucca root - DO NOT USE FROZEN YUCCA - found in the produce section of your local Latin market. The queso durro (literally, 'hard cheese') is a firm, salty, crumbly, cow's milk cheese. You can also find the queso durro, or cotija cheese, at your local Latin market. For any Lakelander's out there, Mega Mercado is the market I buy both the yucca and the cheese. If you live on the south side, try Tapatio's.
For the buñuelos:
+ 8 cups of vegetable oil
+ 1 1/2 pounds of yucca, grated
+ 8 ounces cotija cheese, grated
+ 3 large eggs
+ 1 teaspoon baking powder
+ about 1/4 teaspoon of salt (remember the cheese is salty)
For the fig syrup:
+ 1 cup of granulated sugar
+ 1 cup of water
+ a handful of dried figs - about 5, cut in quarters
+ 2 fig leaves, if you have them available - not necessary
+ 1 cinnamon stick, whole