What were your memories of food growing up and do you have any particularly memorable dishes from your childhood?
Man, my pops used to make me black beans with white rice and chicken cutlets and a little bit of salad on the side with avocado. Sheesh... that was like almost everyday I ate that shit. That's the most memorable dish I ate as a kid.
Being of Puerto Rican heritage, how did this shape your palette growing up and what are some of your favourite dishes from Puerto Rico?
Well, my mother and father used to cook up a feast sometimes for the family, equally they were both great cooks but by themselves they were just as good, I ate a lot of different things that would probably sound or taste nasty to other people, such as Bacalao which is cod fish with some yucca and eggs mixed with onions. Also some flan cakes that I know some of my friends didn't like as well as Malta drinks which a lot of people I know told me was nasty but I grew up drinking that type of drink, it's a Puerto Rican drink that requires an acquired taste.
My favorite food from the islands would have to be what my grandmother used to always cook for the family on Christmas and thanksgiving, which was called Pasteles, and that contains a mixture of some pork or ground meat wrapped in a leaf and boiled with yucca until ready, those shits were bangin' yo!
Raised in the Chelsea Elliot Projects in Manhattan, can you give us some local knowledge of some of the best food spots to hit up in the area?
To be honest there aren't that many food spots anymore on my block, all the old good spots have been replaced with Starbucks and all that due to gentrification that's been happening. I could recommend a spot I used to go to after my studio sessions just because it was good quality food and they were open 24/7. That place is called Chelsea Square on 23rd, ill burgers and fries also the milk shakes is on point. Another spot is Taco Bandito on 8th Ave, lowkey the steak quesadilla's there is lit plus it's ran by Koreans so the diversity is crazy, haha.
What are some of your favourite food bars in music?
My man biggie once said:
"We can rendezvous at the bar around two
Plans to leave, throw the keys to 'Lil Cease
Pull the truck up, front, and roll up the next blunt
So we can steam on the way to the telly go fill my belly
A t-bone steak, cheese eggs and Welch's grape." Haha classic line!
Can you complete these food bars from a collaborator of yours, Kool G Rap?
"Not a skinny dipper, a fat rolly-polly / My hair is very curly, it's like a ..... ravioli I'm very good at physics and also scientific!"
Classic G Rap one of my favorite joints off the Road to the Riches album which if I'm not mistaken didn't make the final cut of the album, I think they released that song as a single. Not too sure.
Frank Castle's "Chicken Cutlets with Rice and Beans" Recipe
Ima keep it simple, what my pops used to make me every day as a kid, that I've grown and learned to make for myself. Chicken cutlets with rice and beans. Boricua style!
For the chicken:
1 cup all-purpose flour (5 ounces; 140g)
3 large eggs, beaten
1 cup panko bread crumbs (2 ounces; 60g), roughly crushed by hand if very large
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (5 to 7 ounces each), cut into 4 cutlets
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable oil, for frying (about 1 to 1 1/2 cups.)
Now for the white rice with beans:
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
1/2 cup onion (finely chopped)
1/4 cup chopped green, red, yellow peppers (either one color or a combo of all three)
1 cup long-grain white rice 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
1 pound black beans, soaked and drained
3/4 cup water
8 ounce can of tomato sauce
1 packet Goya Sazon (without Annatto)
1 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste
1 pinch sprinkle dried red pepper flakes (optional, if you want an extra kick)
Now if you know what soffrito is you can add that also in the mixture with the tomato sauce, which will give the beans a real kick of flavor, this dish works perfectly fine without it.
Bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Stir in rice and salt and return to a boil over medium-high heat.
Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until rice is tender and has absorbed all the liquid, 16 to 18 minutes (check only toward the end of cooking time). The rice should be studded with craters, or steam holes, when it is ready.
Remove from heat and let steam, covered, for 10 minutes. Then fluff with a fork and serve.