My mother (like many Puerto Rican mothers) has always had a copy of Yvonne Ortiz’s A Taste of Puerto Rico in our kitchen. I can tell which dishes she’s made the most because the book just naturally falls open to those recipes. Only during quarantine have I started using it myself, marking new territory with soffritto stains on the pages my mother managed to keep pristine all these years. I turn to it when I want to taste my grandmother’s and great-grandmother’s cooking with half of the effort. One of my go-tos is Ortiz’s guava barbecue sauce. It’s a wildly simple (four-ingredient) recipe with a single sentence procedure: “Thoroughly combine all the ingredients.” It takes about five seconds to make but instantly conjures memories of childhood trips to the island, stopping at a kiosko for a pincho de pollo (chicken skewer) and licking the sticky sweet sauce from off my little fingers. My version is nothing like Ortiz’s, but it brings me back just the same. I’ve slathered this sauce on ribs and whole fish and used it as a glaze for pork belly, but I will always like it best with chicken. This is just to say, you might want to double it.
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