Food is more than just a way of filling our stomachs and providing us with nutrition. After all, a dish can also tell the history of the place where it comes from. Every recipe has come into existence thanks to the physical and social conditions of the people who created them. Everything, from the ingredients used to the preparation method, tells a story about the culture it comes from.
Rabo Encendido is not an exception. Worry not because I will share everything I know about this delicious South American dish with you in this article!
Rabo Encendido Cubano
Rabo Encendido, which can be translated to “fiery tail” in English, can be seen as the Cuban answer to the Rabo de toro of Spain. With the shared history between the two countries, it makes plenty of sense.
The bullfighting tradition in Spain can be traced all the way back to 700 A.D. The winner of a bullfight is pardoned. On the other hand, the loser is brought to the slaughterhouse and then winds up in restaurants and butcher shops.
In an effort to avoid wasting anything, it is common practice to extract even the blood, stock, tripe, and even the tail!
Even though oxtail was once inexpensive and less desirable, it is now considered a premium cut. Its price on the market reflects this. Oxtail, which is now taken from cattle, is comparable to short ribs. In case you have any hesitation, try to remember this tidbit!
Rabo de toro, the predecessor of Rabo Encendido, is said to have come from Cordova, Spain. The Spanish Empire conquered the Americas and even the Philippines and Equatorial Guinea. For this reason, Spanish influence has reached various corners of the world.
As we all know, Cuba is one such place. In this day and age, Rabo Encendido is such a popular Cuban dish that it is a mainstay on any menu of any Cuban restaurant.
To make a delicious Rabo Encendido, the oxtail must be tender and the sauce velvety. Both of these qualities should be present if it has been prepared properly. This is a dish slow-braised in tomato paste, wine, aromatics, and spices for a couple of hours.
It should be tender enough that the beef practically melts off the bone! The rich sauce produced is unparalleled. Once it is ready, you only have to serve it with white rice and maduros for the perfect Cuban meal. Voila!
Nothing can beat a good Rabo Encendido Cubano once it starts to get cold outside. However, this is a dish that will be delicious and filling no matter what time of the year it might be.
Rabo Encendido Dominicano
While Rabo Encendido is commonly associated with Cuba, it is a very popular dish in the Dominican Republic as well. Again, it makes sense because both countries were colonized and heavily influenced by Spain.
On top of that, the two Hispanic nations are located in the Caribbean Sea, with only approximately 500 miles separating them. It is not surprising to hear that they have certain things in common, from language to food!
Despite this, you should keep in mind that their versions are not the exact same thing at all. Fair enough, it is undeniable that they have many similarities. It is far deeper than just the name that they share.
Among other things, they both require similar ingredients and take quite some time before they are cooked to perfection. The two dishes are also commonly served with rice.
Even so, it would be best if you made a mental note that they are different. Unlike Rabo Encendido Cubano, the Dominican version is spicy! This must be the biggest difference between the two versions of the dish.
While some people take the name to be a reference to the richness of the stew thanks to the spices, Rabo Encendido Dominicano offers an alternative interpretation. The fiery tail might instead be a reference to just how spicy this version of the dish is!
It is interesting to note that, in general, the cuisine of the Dominican Republic is not spicy. Dominican cooks are not exactly fond of using pepper in their dishes. For this reason, this flavorful stew definitely stands out like a sore thumb.
Together with the Chivo liniero and Agrio de naranja, Rabo Encendido Dominicano happens to be one of the few exceptions to the rule.
At any rate, it is hard to say which of the two versions is better since they both have something unique to offer. As a rule of thumb, it might be best to stick to Rabo Encendido Cubano if you cannot handle spicy food.
When serving a lot of people, this is probably the safer choice since more people will be able to eat it!
Rabo Encendido Recipe (Cuban Version)
Once you learn this recipe, we bet that you won’t mind waiting a couple of hours for it! The long wait is worth it. Everyone has their own version of Rabo Encendido Cubano, so I will simply share how I personally like it. Feel free to adjust it to your liking. This recipe will yield 8 delicious servings.
- 4 pounds of beef oxtail
- 2 potatoes
- 2 cups of onion (diced)
- 1 cup of carrots (diced)
- 6 garlic cloves (chopped)
- 2 cans of tomato sauce (15 oz each)
- 1 1/2 cups of white cooking wine
- 3 cups of chicken broth
- ¼ cup of green olives (halved)
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- ½ cup olive oil
- ½ teaspoon of allspice
- ½ packet of sazon seasoning
- 2 teaspoons of sazon completa
- 3 bay leaves
- In a bowl, whisk together white cooking wine, salt, and ¼ cup of olive oil.
- Add oxtail to the mixture and coat well.
- Use plastic wrap to cover the bowl and let it sit in the refrigerator for about 12 hours.
- Drain oxtail and save only ½ cup of marinade.
- Heat a tablespoon of olive oil and sear oxtail in a pot until all sides have browned. This should take around two minutes.
- Transfer it to a large plate and heat the rest of the olive oil in the pot.
- Saute onion, carrots, and potatoes in the pot until the onions become translucent.
- Mash half a teaspoon of salt and garlic using a mortar and pestle until you get a coarse paste.
- Add the paste to the sauteed vegetables in the pot and stir for 30 seconds or until fragrant.
- Add bay leaves, green olives, sazon seasoning, sazon complete, and allspice.
- Add the marinade, chicken broth, and tomato sauce to the pot.
- Stir in oxtail to the pot.
- Once the stew reaches a boil, lower the heat and let it simmer with the lid on.
- Wait until the oxtails become tender enough to slip off the bone. This will take approximately 4 hours.
Rabo Encendido Calories and Nutrition
Rabo Encendido Cubano is, without a doubt, a delicious and flavorful stew guaranteed to impress all your loved ones. Aside from this, it happens to be a very filling dish as well. As a matter of fact, every serving of my recipe is going to come with nearly 800 calories!
You might want to keep this in mind if you are planning to cook it. Due to its rich flavor and tenderness, you will almost certainly feel tempted to get a second serving or a third or even a fourth.
For anyone curious, the basic nutrition facts per serving of Rabo Encendido Cubano is
- 785 calories
- 73 g protein
- 23 g carbohydrates
- 42 g fat
- 252 mg cholesterol
- 14 g saturated fat
- 8 g sugar
- 1 g dietary fiber
- 82 g calcium
- 1118 mg potassium
- 52 mcg folate
- 11 mg iron
- 2008 mg sodium.
As you can see, it does not make for a light meal no matter how you look at it.
Because of the dish’s time requirements and high calories, we recommend only making Rabo Encendido Cubano when there is a special occasion. The oxtail also releases a lot of oil during the cooking process because of how fatty it tends to be.
In this situation, you might want to get rid of all the excess oil with the help of a ladle to make it less oily and fatty. Rabo Encendido Cubano is commonly served with white rice or saffron rice on the side as well.
Do not forget to take this into consideration if you are keeping an eye on your calorie intake!
Fortunately, this is not the sort of dish that people make on a regular basis due to how much time its preparation requires so you don’t have to feel guilty all the time. At any rate, a little treat here and there won’t hurt you.
Besides, if it means enjoying a hot plate of Rabo Encendido Cubano, it is more than understandable! Just be careful not to overdo it too often since moderation and balance are key to good nutrition and a long, healthy life.
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