For most of its history, Costa Rica has been a nation of peasants and are therefore their traditions those found mainly in the kitchen. In contrast to other areas of Central and South America, the country still has a remarkable and varied gastronomic culture, resulting in an original mix of indigenous, African and European influences.
“Here is a classic Cuban recipe for ground beef that is typically eaten over white rice. It can also be used as a filling for tacos or empanadas. It’s delicious with fried ripe plantains.”
This is one of the most original and rico dishes that I know-the secret lies in its simpleness. This classic Costa Rican meal will always leave you incredibly satisfied with its variety of delicious, home-cooked sabores. You could even call it comfort food, with its hearty portions. According to local legend, this dish would typically be eaten by newlyweds. The idea was that a new couple would not yet know eachothers taste in food, so various guisos and salads would be presented together on one dish in order to discover the favorite sabores of each person. For this reason, many variations of the casado exist, but the essential ingredients are rice and beans; these are not stirred together, but prepared and served separately. The frijoles are simply cooked and served whole, although they are sometimes mashed. The rice used is always white and fine grain. Then meat is added, either beef, chicken, pork or fish. Sometimes the meat is accompanied by carmelized onions or with a salsa, but isn’t required. The tortillas are always present as well, large or small, alongside the queso fresco and eggs. A simple salad is the final touch for this meal, either with iceberg lettuce or coleslaw. Between the different options that can be added to this dish, there is a popular Costa Rican stew called picadillo made from potatoes, chayote (pear squash) and green beans cooked in a bit of tomato sauce. Leftover casseroles from the day before also work well. Some even add a few slices of avocado for extra flavor or some pickled vegetables for a tangy touch. In the ‘sodas’ or Costa Rican restaurants, the casado is served in a square metal dish–not over a normal plate–and covered with a banana leaf for a rustic, homemade touch that makes this meal a pleasure to eat. In your own home, try serving in wooden dishes to capture this beautiful presentation.
Costa Rica’s Independence Day is coming up on September 15th. The occasion for us to feature the cuisine of this beautiful country over the next two weeks.
To start this gustatory feast, here is a classic Costa Rican breakfast: chorreadas.
Chorreadas are traditional pancakes from Costa Rica that are prepared with fresh corn and are usually served for breakfast, but they can also be enjoyed at lunch or as a snack. These pancakes are often sweet but can also be prepared in a savory version.
In Costa Rica, you will typically find these snacks in what Ticos (how Costa Ricans refer themselves as) call a soda or street-side diners serving local cuisine. Chorreadas are prepared either with fresh white corn, or with yellow corn which gives a more pronounced color and corn taste.
Sweet chorreadas are traditionally served with honey or syrup to accompany a coffee. Savory chorreadas are served with sour cream, cream cheese, bacon or sausage.
Chorreadas are quick and easy to prepare and can be the basis for a variety of pancake recipes that can only be limited by your imagination!