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Panama - Panamanian Cuisine

iPanamanian cuisine has been influenced by a mix of Native American, African, and Spanish cooking and dishes, which is a reflection of Panama's diverse population. Typical foods are rather mild without the pungency and heat of some of Panama's surrounding neighbors.

1 pound ground beef
1/4 cup oil
1/2 cup onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 bell pepper, seeded, cored, and chopped
1/2 teaspoon finely minced hot chili pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon salt
Heat the oil and fry the onion, garlic and bell pepper. Then add the hot pepper, cumin and meat. Mix and break up the mixture with a spoon or spatula. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

3 pounds yucca
3 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon salt
oil for deep frying

Peel yucca, cut into pieces and cook in water until tender but not overcooked. Puree in a food processor while warm and knead with oil and salt until the batter is soft but firm. Form balls with the yucca, flatten it, add one tablespoon of the filling (see recipe below) and close it, giving it an elongated form. Heat the oil and fry the fritters until brown. Remove from oil and drain excess oil by placing them on a paper towel.


1 5-lb chicken or cooking hen cut into eighths
3 tsp salt
4 tbs cilantro, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
pinch of oregano
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 hot pepper, finely chopped
2 quarts water
5 lbs yucca, peeled and cut into large piece
Season the chicken with the cilantro, oregano and salt.
Put a heavy pot over medium heat and add the seasoned chicken. Brown the chicken on all sides.

Add the water, onion and hot pepper. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook until the chicken softens, about one hour.
Add the yucca and allow to boil until the tubers soften. Season with more salt to taste if needed.

Serve hot.

Tamal de Olla

1 lbs. par-cooked polenta
1 small chicken; cut into pieces
3 tbsp olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste
4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1 tsp annato seeds or oil
1 larg onion finely chopped
1 yellow pepper chopped
1 red pepper choppes
2 tablespoon capers
15 green olives
2 cans tomato sauce puree
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup red wine
1 hot chili pepper; cored, seeded, and minced

Marinate the chicken with salt, pepper and oregano for at least 1 hour. Heat the oil over medium low heat in a big pan and add the annato seeds if using them. Add onion, peppers and garlic. Turn the heat and add the chicken to brown whilst adding the wine and vinegar little by little.

Add the tomato sauce puree, turn the heat down and let it simmer for about 1.5 hours with the hot chili pepper.Check the seasoning adding salt and pepper if needed and the capers and olives for the last 10 minutes.Take the chicken out, debone and skin it and put the meat back into the pan. Make the polenta according to package instructions, but using ¾ water and 1/4 chicken sauce . Put the tamal in a baking dish and bake for a further 20 minutes at gas mark 375º F.




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