Canoas

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Canoas
Story and Photos by Mei-Ling Camacho

When living away, there is nothing better than the food that reminds you of home.

Brother José Matos Auffant, S.M., Minister of Spiritual Development at University Ministry, brings a taste of Puerto Rican culture through the “canoas.”

Canoas is the Spanish word for canoe—which is the shape of this dish.

“The Puerto Rican native tribe, Los Taínos, were the ones who taught me how to make the canoas,” Matos says.

Taínos were the people on the island known to use the canoas.

“My grandma, Eugenia Vasquez, who was the chef on my mother’s side, was the one who taught me how to make the canoas,” he explains.

Matos also says he likes cooking at Casa María, where he currently resides. For those who are learning how to cook, he recommends a recipe book called How to Boil Water. For him, cooking is not only a way to relax, but also a reminder of his home—Puerto Rico.

In Puerto Rico, many dishes are made with plantains and this is one of his favorite dishes with it as an ingredient. “They are easy and quick to make,” he says.

As a Marianist brother, Matos has travelled to many countries like México and Venezuela, and lived in different cities like Dayton, Ohio and San Antonio.

However, for him, there really is nothing like home—its people, and especially, the food.

Matos brings us a little bit of tropical flavor, a history lesson and a piece of his home with the canoas.

Ingredients:
Canoas:

  • Baked plantains
  • Ripe plantains
  • Butter or pam
  • Mozzarella cheese (sprinkle)

Beef:

  • 1 lbs. ground beef
  • ¼ of tomato sauce
  • ¼ of table red wine
  • Adobo (sprinkle)
  • ½ of Sazón
  • 1 onion, minced

Directions

Pre-heat the oven to 400. Put the buttered plantains in the oven for 25 minutes with the peel on. Cook the ground beef by mixing the onions, the adobo, the Sazón, the tomato sauce & the red wine. Sprinkle the Adobo on the meat. Take the plantains out of the oven and cut them by the middle, like a canoe. Remove the peel. Also, remove a little bit of the plantain inside to make space for filling. Add the cooked beef inside the canoe, filling it. On the top of the meat, you add the cheese and put it back in the oven for 10 minutes. After the 10 minutes of the canoas being in the oven, let them cool off for about 5 minutes. Servings vary on the plantain count. Use 2 ounces of meat per canoa.

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