A small, white mountain of creamy, smooth, garlicky goodness sits atop my mother’s blue floral plate. Heaping spoonfuls of the sustenance are passed around the dining table—the meal cannot begin without the stellar accompaniment. It’s simple, comforting, and well-loved, like a grandmother’s handmade quilt. Looking down at our plates, the soulful food is a tribute to remind us of other homes, lands away, of customs and cultures we embrace, despite being out of reach. Sometimes, a white fluffy mound of savory, starchy, stick-to-your-ribs food is the best thing to reach the heart. We enjoy our beloved yucca dish in solidarity, grinning as we taste the flavors of a warm welcome home.
You may have heard of this dish at your favorite local Cuban restaurant. I, too, have marveled at the magic of mashed garlic yucca with my dad at our favorite spot. Beautifully complementary, aromatic garlic and hints of salt zing my taste buds as the warm mashed consistency caresses them. Whatever excited debate or chatter we had going on before the unassuming dish came out has ceased as we savor in silence. Our wide eyes and full mouths hint that we can’t help but agree—this dish is superior to any mashed potato recipe we’ve encountered.
Yucca is a root vegetable that my grandmother prepares often. As mentioned, this dish, in particular, is well-known in Cuban cuisine, but cooking with yucca has been a staple in Mama Silvia’s Guatemalan cooking for years, as it’s popular throughout Latin America. It’s a great substitute for potatoes, with a mild taste and starchy texture. Thus, it’s highly versatile and can be enjoyed in a variety of ways; at home, we frequently eat it boiled for a quick and easy side, but it’s also commonly roasted or fried. So, with Thanksgiving right around the corner, why not swap out the traditional bowl of mashed potatoes for something a little more interesting yet just as flavorful and comforting? With powerful punches of garlic sure to awaken the senses amidst buttery, savory yucca, this silky side just might become the star of the show.
- 1 large yucca root, peeled and chopped
- 4-5 cups bone broth
- 3 large cloves of garlic, roasted and smashed
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1-2 tablespoons butter
- ½ teaspoon salt (more to taste)
- ½ teaspoon pepper (more to taste)
Start by trimming the ends of the yucca root on a cutting board with a sharp knife. Then, cut it into quarters. It will require a bit of pressure, as it’s a similar experience to cutting a squash. The cross-section should show firm, white flesh. Stand the sections on their cut faces, trim off the skin, and cut off both layers. Once peeled, dice the yucca into small pieces and boil it in bone broth with garlic and salt. Meanwhile, roast the garlic in olive oil for the best flavor results. Once the yucca is boiled, it should be soft and tender for mashing. Mash the yucca as you would a potato. You can do this with a mashing tool, a fork, or a hand mixer for a creamy, whipped texture. Add the butter, garlic, and seasoning to taste as you mash it. Once mashed, add salt and pepper as needed, and top with a garnish of parsley, if desired.
Cover photo courtesy of: https://www.runningtothekitchen.com/