Easy Yuca al Ajillo
Updated: Jul 16
Yuca al ajillo is a very traditional Puerto Rican side. As the name suggests the main components are yuca and garlic. This is a great recipe for when you want to eat something delicious but don't feeling like cooking anything too complicated. This recipe will deliver so much flavor that you will want to repeat it every day.
Approx. 5 lbs yuca
½ cup olive oil
2 medium onions, sliced
10 cloves of garlic, minced
To start, we are going to need to peel our yucca. Yucca has an extremely thick skin, so it can be a little tricky to peel.
First, I’m going to show you how yucca is traditionally peeled. Cut off both ends of the yucca, and then use a small knife to cut a slit in the skin along one side of the yucca. Then, using the edge of the knife, begin peeling back the skin along the line you cut.
As you begin to pull back the skin, you’ll see that underneath the rough outside bark, there’s a second smooth layer that, if you are able to get under it, can be pulled back more easily. Generally, the fresher the root, the easier it is to find this line and, if you are lucky, the skin can come off quite easy. In any event, keep pulling off the skin until your yucca is completely clean. If you need to, use your knife to cut away any particularly difficult section.
The second way to peel yucca, and my preferred method, is by using a sturdy vegetable peeler, like the one I have here. With this method, you don’t need to worry about finding the second skin; you just peel everything off until you get down to the bright white skin. I find this method faster, and it works regardless of the age of your yucca.
Once you have your yucca peeled, let’s go ahead and cut it into pieces to boil it. I’m cutting the yucca into pieces that are about 1 and a half inches thick.
As you are cutting your yucca, you might find some discolored parts or tough veins running through the root. Take advantage of this opportunity to cut out those parts. It’s easier to do know than waiting until after the root is cooked and soft.
As you are cutting your yucca, just add them to the pot you are going to use to boil them. Once done cutting, add water to your pot to cover your yucca. Then add your salt. You want to add salt based on how much water you added. Here, I’m adding two tablespoons to 8 cups of water. You want to make sure your water is salty enough so that the salt gets absorbed into the yucca while it’s cooking. It’s a lot easier to evenly distribute the salt now, then later after it’s already been cooked.
Now go ahead and put your pot on the stove and begin boiling it on medium high.
While your yucca is boiling, let’s go ahead and get your sauce ready to go on top. Heat up a wide pan and add your olive oil. Add your onions and saute them on medium heat until they are soft and just starting to get translucent. Be careful not to overcook your onions here. We want them to retain their shape; not to become french onion soup.
Once your onions are soft, add your garlic and your bay leaves and stir to combine. After about one minute, remove your pot from the stove and allow the residual heat to finish cooking the garlic.
Now back to our yucca. As its boiling, check it from time to time with a fork. Once you can easily insert a fork into the yucca pieces, they are ready.
Once ready, take your yucca off the stove and strain off the water. Then rinse it with cold water to stop the cooking.
After you’ve rinsed your yucca, add it back into the same pot you boiled it in, and then top it with your onions and garlic.
At this point, give you yucca a quick taste and adjust the salt as necessary. If you properly salted the water you boiled the yucca in, you shouldn’t need to add too much salt at this stage.
Check out our instructional video, showing how to make this recipe step-by-step HERE.