Wrapping Up National Hispanic Heritage Month with Cuban Food

As National Hispanic Heritage Month comes to a close, we spoke with chef Stanley Licairac of New York City’s Havana Central about what the month of festivities means to him. For Licairac, the four weeks of remembrances are important because "it’s a shout-out to the entire Hispanic community," he tells The Daily Meal about the all-encompassing celebration of the cultures born from the Caribbean all the way down to Chile.

Not surprisingly, Licairac’s favorite part about his Hispanic heritage is its diverse cuisine. Growing up with a Puerto Rican mother and a Dominican father, Licairac was exposed to a variety of Latin foods from a very young age. But his experiences with Latin cooking go beyond regular family meals, because he spent much of his upbringing working in his parents’ authentic Latin restaurants. With his extensive experience cooking with Latin foods, the opportunity to run the kitchen at Havana Central was a no-brainer for Licairac, and transitioning from his parents’ Caribbean cooking to Cuban cooking was easy.
"[Cuban food was easy for me to adapt to], because we all eat the same kinds of foods and proteins across the Caribbean," he explained, "and I’m drawn to Cuban food because it’s very flavorful but not too [overwhelming]."

At Havana Central, Licairac whips up authentic yet unique Cuban dishes regularly, drawing upon some of his favorite traditional Cuban ingredients such as pork, black beans, sour oranges, and fresh oregano. While he has many, we were able to get Licairac to decide on just a few of his favorite recipes from Havana Central to share with The Daily Meal. These recipes are a nod to not only Cuban cooking but the entire Hispanic community as well, and are a great way to wrap up your National Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations.

Ropa Vieja Recipe

"This traditional Cuban dish is true to its English translation of "old clothes," because of the tender chunks of shredded beef that resemble torn clothing."

— The Daily Meal Cook Editors





Pernil Asado Recipe

"Originating from Puerto Rico, this pernil asado recipe is given a Cuban twist with manzanilla olives and canned pimento."

— The Daily Meal Cook Editors






Cubano Sandwich Recipe

"The beauty of a traditional Cubano is the balance of meat, cheese, and dill pickles. This recipe from Havana Central is a careful ratio of all of three, and adds a spicy garlic mojo into the mix for an extra kick of flavor."

— The Daily Meal Cook Editors






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Anne Dolce is the Cook Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @anniecdolce