Hello Adventurers! Thanks to the very short sail we have in store, we were able to spend an extra day on the beach in Dominica soaking up the tropical sun and watching the occasional whale spout in the distance.
Today we will sail north and west to the Greater Antilles and specifically the split island nation of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Our destination, the Dominican Republic is on the eastern half of the island and the capital city is Santo Domingo where we put ashore.
Controlled by France, Britain and the United States at various times, the Dominican Republic spent most of its time occupied by the Spanish. This is in contrast to Haiti which fell mostly under French control.
Unlike Haiti, the Dominican Republic has carved out a significant economy, the second largest in the Caribbean and has diversified itself with sugar cane production as a historic economic sector as well as tourism and services. The beautiful beaches have attracted many tourists in recent years and have brought the standard of living in DR well above its neighbor Haiti.
As a result, the Haitian population in DR has boomed. Illegal immigration per capita in DR could be as high as 10% just counting Haitians. One of the ways that DR police identify people from Haiti is to ask them to repeat the word for parsley, perejil. The “R” is challenging for a Haitian French Creole speaking person to pronounce.
This practice may have begun in the days of the Dominican Republic’s most ruthless leader. General Rafael Leonidas Trujillo Molina won his presidency by election in 1930, but only after forcing his predecessor out of office in violent rebellions, throughout which he managed to remain “neutral”. He was virtually unopposed in the elections due in part to violent campaigns against his opponents. For the next 31 years Trujillo used the most repressive tactics to maintain control of the nation, killing thousands and imprisoning dissidents. Among his many victims were 3 of the 4 Mirabal sisters, who earned the nickname Las Mariposas or The Butterflies. Julia Alvarez wrote a fabulous account of the time period and the killings in “The Time of The Butterflies” (En Las Tiempo de Las Mariposas) as told by the surviving sister. The sisters went on to become heroes to the people who eventually renamed their home district to Hermanas (sisters) Mirabal Province.
Oddly, during Trujillo’s rule, many improvements were made to the infrastructure and economy of the Dominican Republic. Apparently despite his methods, Trujillo bore some type of interest in improving life in his nation. Still much of the wealth was siphoned off by Trujillo and his henchmen and many of his countrymen will never tell their tales from the graves in which they were buried.
The Dominican Republic has experienced a tumultuous history with colonial conflicts and power changes, oppressive dictators and poverty. Today there still exists’ a large disparity between the wealthy and the poor. However, compared to Haiti, DR is in much better shape. Even before the recent earthquake in Port Au Prince Haiti was one of the poorest places in the Western Hemisphere. DR suffered no significant damage during the event.
The national dish of the Dominican Republic is called Bandera Nacional or Flag of the Nation. It is similar to many dishes in Latin America in that it includes the staples of Rice and beans (Red Kidneys over white rice) Tostones (plantains) a salad and Grilled, Pan Fried or Braised Steak (like Ropa Vieja from Cuba). I give this dish a rating of 2 for difficulty. It is fairly simple, but contains several components. I am going to be pan frying the meat rather than braising since we just did that in Cuba. I am however leaving the recipe mostly intact since it is interestingly written (goats and oregano) and represents a good tradition in Dominican Republic.
NOTE: I am using my own marinade for the beef and pan frying the Flank Steaks. If you care to follow my procedure, you will get a terrific result, but very different texture from the braised meat below. Either one is tasty!!!
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Appearance: 3 out of 5
Aroma: 4 out of 5
Flavor: 4 out of 5
Total: 11 out of 15
This La Bandera Dominican recipe is the most popular national dish of the Dominican Republic and you will find it at every resort in Punta Cana. This staple dish consists of a stewed meat (usually goat) served with rice, red beans, fried plantains and salad.
The plantains for la Bandera Dominican Recipe (Did not find plantains today so I didn’t make them:( )
Pan-fry in hot oil, lightly salt them and allow to dry on paper towel. You can treat fried plantains much the same way that you would french fries in a North American kitchen.
1 can Red Kidney Beans
1 carrot sliced
1 onion finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic minced
half tsp. of coriander
1 can of tomato paste
2 cups of chicken stock (veggie stock will work)
salt & pepper to taste
Start by caramelizing the onions over medium heat in a little oil. Add garlic and coriander and saute for a couple minutes before adding other ingredients. I like to stew my beans for 20-25 minutes; use a potato masher to turn parts of them into a paste while they’re simmering. Keep them simmering until they reach a nice creamy consistency.
Serve over white rice
1.5 cups white rice
1 pinch salt
1 tbsp olive oil
water to cover rice by 1″
Rinse the rice repeatedly until the water runs clear. Cover the rice with 1″ of water above the rice. Bring to a boil then simmer for 18 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to stand for 5-10 minutes.
If you burn the bottom layer of the rice, do not discard. In the Dominican Republic this layer is called “concon” and is considered a delicacy to be served seperately from the rice. The toasted starch in the concon has a nice smoky flavor and is crispy.
“Guisade”: the stewed meat
Usually goat is used for this recipe, but you can substitute with stewing beef.
3 pounds of goat or beef, cut into cubes
3 roughly chopped onions
6 cloves of garlic
4 tomatoes roughly chopped
2 sweet peppers julienned
2 cups beef stock
Coriander, salt & pepper to taste
3 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons lime juice
Finely chopped onion
3 teaspoons oregano
Salt & pepper
Dominican goats graze on wild oregano, giving their meat a wonderful pre-marinated flavor, something that is always lacking when their dishes are recreated elsewhere. To get around this marinate the stewing meat overnight in the refrigerator. Rub the meat with the marinade, place in a Ziploc bag and refrigerate overnight.
Saute meat in hot oil until seared on all sides. Add onions, garlic, tomatoes and peppers and saute for five minutes. Add beef stock and allow to simmer for a couple hours. Season and adjust liquid as needed.
Umm I copied down the recipe and forgot where I found it. To the chef who posted the original, please alert me to who you are. I will happily return and edit this with the link. Thanks for your understanding…Eric