Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Yucca, cassava, manioc whatever you call it this Amazonian originating tuber delivers a caloric wallop. In a pound of this tropical root vegetable there are about 700 calories – ninety-five percent of that coming from carbohydrates. So, you carb-phobic eaters out there be warned. For me, it is one of my winter staples. It is very mild in flavor willing to absorb whatever seasonings it is introduced to. You should buy firm, unblemished yucca and it need to be peeled with a knife. Immediately store the peeled, cut yucca in water as it oxidizes rather quickly. There is a fibrous, unpleasant core in the yucca that needs to be removed. I either cut the root in half, afterwards I cut out the center, or, I will cut the yucca in large pieces and boiled it for about 10 minutes. Then drain the yucca, and gently pull the center out. I put yucca in soups and stews in lieu of potatoes and love it boiled, and then tossed with garlic, lemon juice and olive oil. When you are feeling really naughty try them fried.

Chicken Soup – yields approx. 12 servings
1 capon – cut into 12 pieces and rinsed under cold water
4 quarts chicken stock
3 carrots – peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
4 celery stalks – washed and cut into 1 inch pieces
2 large onion – cut into 1 inched pieces
5 garlic cloves – peeled and chopped
1/4 cup Italian parsley leaves – roughly chopped
1 pound cassava (yucca) – peeled and cut into about 2 inch pieces
1/8 cup cilantro – roughly chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 limes cut into 12 pieces for garnish

In an eight quart pot bring the capon and stock to the boil, and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 30 minutes skimming the fat and impurities off that float to the top. After a half hour add the carrots, celery, onion, garlic, parsley and cassava. Bring the soup back to the boil, and continue cooking for a minimum of 1 hour (up to 3 hours). Add the cilantro and season with salt and pepper. Serve hot in a large bowl with each serving getting a piece of chicken, and garnish with a lime wedge.

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