Dominican Roast Pork Shoulder and Mind-Blowing Yuca Empanadas — Cooking in America


(upbeat music) – [Sheldon] So we’re about
to go meet Manu Alfau who is from the Dominican
Republic by way of Austin, Texas. Now he’s here in Seattle
serving up some roast pork and some yuca empanadas. – What up, bro?
– What’s up, bro. – How you doing?
(hands clap) – Good man.
– Thanks for coming out, man. We’re a Latin American
restaurant, Dominican based, yeah, which is where I’m from
but then we just started creeping out, you know,
different countries. – So I’m expecting pork, then.
– A lot of pork here. (upbeat music) So here we go, chef. This is our signature puerco asado which is a Dominican roast pig. It always happens right on
the 24th for Christmas Eve and we’re gonna make
the marinade for that. (upbeat music) Cilantro, Anaheim peppers,
some red onions, lime juice, some garlic and salt. Our house spice mix has
cumin, coriander, oregano in there, there’s a little olive oil. Just kinda bring it all together. – Where’d your love for
cooking come from, bro? – My grandma, bro.
– Yeah? (laughs) – Yep, I tried going to school. Computer science and whatever else and just wasn’t for me and one day, I just looked down at my hands and I was like, ‘I need to
do something with my hands’. – [Sheldon] Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. – I grew up also watching
a lot of cooking shows for some reason. – What was your cooking
show that you loved? – Yan Can Cook. (hand clap)
– Yes. – I got the opportunity of
a lifetime to go to Bilbao. – Yeah?
– I was classically trained in traditional Basque
cuisine and you can tell about the Spanish influence
in all of the food in Latin America. I was born in Dominican Republic. I got to Texas as a young kid. My parents thought it was really important for me to spend a lot
of time with my grandma, my cousins, everybody else,
so every single summer, we would get sent out. (upbeat music) So we’re just gonna
ladle some on top there. And if you just wanna rub it down. – [Sheldon] Yeah. (upbeat music) – [Manu] I like to let
it sit for five hours and then at the end of the day, we’ll just slow cook it overnight. – [Sheldon] Oh, nice.
– So in the meantime, this is like where the
empanadas come into play. (taps on wood) We’re gonna make a traditional empanada called catibia and it’s
made out of yucca root. White inside, it’s super, super starchy. So these things, we break
this all the way down and then, the dough itself
is made out of that. (upbeat music) And feel the texture compared to that. – [Sheldon] You can tell
that there’s a lot of liquid. – So you know what we do next? (Sheldon laughs)
Squeeze the water out of it. (upbeat music) – [Sheldon] Can you eat this raw? – No, it’s supposed to be poisonous. Is what they say, it has
to be cooked through. This is something that
I ate for the first time in this tiny, tiny little town. The filling didn’t even really matter because it was all about the dough itself. This guy who I met in
the Dominican Republic that owns a restaurant that serves these, he used to be the guy that made ’em. Long time ago, but he’s an old man now. He told me about this process and it just (Sheldon laughs)
sounded way easier when he was telling me, but you know, he told me, this is a crazy story, he’s like yeah, he’s like
‘so you take the yucca and once it’s all ground up,
you put it in a pillowcase’. ‘And then you put it in
your washing machine’. – (laughs) oh, shit. – ‘You know all the water
comes out the back’. And I was just like yeah, bro. (Sheldon laughs) I’m gonna try that –
alright, this is the part that I think is what
you can’t really rush. This is what’s actually gonna
make the yucca come together so it’s gonna be a gluten free dough. (trumpet plays) Alright, break ‘em down
just with your hands here. A little garlic and ginger and some salt. Just a touch of cayenne pepper there. Annatto oil, the classic
yellow color that it has. And then just start
kinda like squeezing it through your fingers and right away, you’re gonna feel that it wants to, it wants to come together
as a dough naturally. – [Sheldon] Yeah.
– Keeping it warm’s gonna be key here to be able to work it and roll it out. Perfect technique, chef, perfect. (trumpet plays) It wants to start
crumbling on ya, already. – [Sheldon] So quick.
– So quick. – [Sheldon] Dude, a dough can teach you so many life lessons,
man, you can’t rush it. – Yeah.
– But then you still have to, have to be efficient and quick. – Respect.
(Sheldon laughs) Respect the dough. We use a traditional beef picadillo which is the most common. (upbeat music) There you go, chef,
catibia; empanada de yucca. (upbeat music) Now it’s time for the pork to come out. (both groan) – Look at that. Just like this. – [Manu] Falling apart. (upbeat music) There you go.
– Sick, man. (trumpet plays) – Food really made a big
impact in cities like this. You know that helped it grow and develop to what we see today. The reason I came out to Seattle was to visit a neighbor of mine who ended up getting a job out here. When I came to Seattle and I noticed, there was some really,
really awesome stuff going on so I was like, I fell in love. – How many years ago was that? – Eleven.
– Eleven years ago. – Yep, the city is just all
about the grind, the grind, the grind, for years and years and I was grinding along with that. You know; boom. For a long time, I was really, really excited about it. But now, I’m seeing the effects. All these high rises are being built for the people that can afford it and everyone else who can’t, you know, is slowly starting to get
driven outside the city. Dominican community out here, it’s sparse. There’s not really any Latin
American representation. I was just like, ‘man, where
are all the brown people at?’ (both laugh) I was doing a pop-up
outside of a friend’s bar and I go up there and just
like sling sandwiches. And ended up just finding a little niche and that kinda got a
little bit of following. We didn’t have a ton of funds and some family came together and like, decided to open up shop, man. – Were you in here slinging hammers, too? – Oh yeah, man, so like
a lot of demolition just with a couple of my friends and yeah. – And then four years now. – Four years later. – What flavors did you
taste out there in Bilbao? – The best way to describe
the basque flavors are a mix of French with a Spanish. I have my Dominican roots but because I was classically trained
in Basque cuisine, I almost feel like a part of me is Basque. – [Sheldon] Rice and beans
is always first (laughs). – Everyday is rice and beans, man. Every single day. – [Sheldon] And this pork slow-cooked. That’s what’s up, this is
what I’ve been waiting for right here. (upbeat music) I’ve never had an empanada that texture. It’s so crispy, it’s so light. That’s world class, bro. – I was just searching for
this recipe high and low. When I met this guy, he couldn’t show me cause he was really old,
but he just told me. Word by word, step by step. It took a while but we got
a really nice product here. When people come in here during the day and they hear the salsa music, like, they’re literally like dancing in line. (Sheldon laughs)
It makes me feel good, you know, it’s just this little tiny spot and then when they walk out
and just like blown away, it’s peasant flavors, you know. It’s like done my way.

57 thoughts on “Dominican Roast Pork Shoulder and Mind-Blowing Yuca Empanadas — Cooking in America

  1. I have the same melancholy opinion of Seattle. Used to be a gorgeous and diverse little town, but all of that is being pushed out in favor of these tech workers who don't add anything to the city culturally and make it unaffordable for the locals. Rents are skyrocketing even down in Tacoma because of this.

  2. Interesting that every Sheldon episode has at least one dish on the table that's not discussed or even annotated. I guess beets and fried plantains aren't worth the mention. 😂 Another excellent episode. This is such a great series.

  3. Sheldon, you're the best! Amazing job on this and all your work. Congrats on the Eater gig. I hope you have a long run.

  4. I as a Dominican I do empanada de yuca, these are the worse ones I have ever seen… Wrong recipe. Instead of doing it from a food processor you need to grate the yuca, squeeze the starch make it into a ball, boil it, then knead it, the ending product it totally different, it does not fall apart

  5. Seriously, put a long blonde wig on him and boom…. Garth from Waynes World.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ue0UpQBmA5s

  6. Man the technics are so understated in the vid but still well represented, I luv Sheldon in every video he's does!! Respect Chief🤙🏽

  7. All these different marinades…they never and do not penetrate something as thick as a pork shoulder cut. A lot of marinades (if not most) are underwhelming and barely flavor the surface of the meat.

  8. I’ll have to give them a try next time I’m in Seattle. My father came to the US from the DR but never really cooked much of the food from there when I was growing up. Looks tasty though. :

  9. I love how the host talks and becomes so close to the chef that it feels like they were good friends for a long time…and pretty sure that's not gift you can gain easily

  10. I would never have guessed you a Dominican with that American white accent! But your food rocks and so do you!!🥂😉👏👏👏

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