Yucca? Fear not, what sounds yucky is actually quite yummy!
This wonderful root, a staple in Central America and the West Indies, has the texture of velvet and a flavor combination of a Yukon gold potato crossed with sweet corn.
Yucca can be boiled, steamed, fried and even made into flour. The key ingredient to your success with fresh Yucca is in the preparation. For such a hearty root it needs to be handled gently to coax the best of within out.
In its raw form you will be hard pressed to damage it, once peeled and rinsed though, it’s time to handle with care. Do not hard boil the root; simmer gently until translucent and tender then remove the Yucca and allow it to cool to the touch. Once cool, remove the heavy fibers near the center of the root and your Yucca is good to go.
When preparing Yucca I always buy and make extra. It’s hard not to because it’s a bonafide value at around $.60 cents a pound, couple that with the fact that Yucca stores extremely well, and it becomes a no-brainer. Think of it as the “other” potato with a longer shelf life and a flavor twist.
One of my favorite way’s to enjoy Yucca is by frying it. Done properly it blows your average French fry out of the water. An addictive crispy crunch on the outside followed by a smooth, tasty velvety core make this treat a crowd favorite for everyone.
A hearty bowl of “Cream of Corn and Yucca” soup, with a side of freshly fried Yucca for dipping, equals a comfort food classic in the making not to be missed.
3 yucca roots (approximately 12” long)
2 ears fresh corn
2 cups fresh frozen corn
1 medium red onion
1 medium sweet onion
2 stalks celery
8 cups water
6 cups chicken stock
3/4 Tsp black pepper
2 Tsp salt
½ Tsp Accent (MSG) omit if you do not want
1 cup heavy cream
4 oz (1 stick) butter
5 Tbs flour
1 Tbs Chicken base
Start by peeling the fresh Yucca and bringing 8 cups of water to boil in a large stockpot. Slice the yucca into 4” pieces and quarter the large ones, halving the smaller ends. Add 1 tsp salt to the water then add the prepped yucca. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer, taking care not to boil heavily. The yucca will start to turn translucent and begin to fall apart in about an hour and a half, the key is letting the yucca cook slowly, do not rush this process. When the yucca is finished cooking remove it and set aside to cool reserving the cooking liquid and all of the small pieces of yucca in another vessel. Once the yucca cools, remove the fibrous strands and discard them. Husk the corn and slice off the fresh corn kernels, break the Cobb’s into two and set aside. Bring the stock pot up to medium heat with the stick of butter inside. Once the butter is melted add the red onion, sweet onion, celery and fresh corn kernels and sauté till the onions are translucent and the celery is soft, about 5 minutes. Increase the heat to medium high and add the flour, stir constantly for two minutes then add the reserved yucca water slowly while stirring. Add the halved corn Cobb’s then cover and reduce the heat to a simmer for 30 minutes. Remove and discard the corn Cobb’s then using either a blender or hand held immersion blender, puree everything into a creamy texture. Strain the puree through a mesh filter and return to the pot. Add the remaining frozen corn, salt and pepper, chicken base, (MSG if you want) and then the 6 cups chicken stock, along with about ¾’s of the boiled yucca that have been cut it into small cubes (the yucca will clump, be messy and not pretty when cubing but will separate when added to the soup and gently stirred). Return the soup to medium heat and cook covered for 5-7 minutes stirring occasionally. You can then remove from heat add the heavy cream, mix well and serve immediately.
The remaining yucca should be used as a side, preferably fried to a golden brown and used as dipping sticks to get every last drop out of the bowl.