Living a number of years in Florida, I was lucky to get an introduction to Cuban food. Having grown up in the Midwest, I hadn’t had much exposure to it before. My first Cuban meal was a classic Cuban sandwich. It starts out with Cuban bread that is buttered or brushed with olive oil. Add on a smear of yellow mustard and then layers of roast pork, ham, Swiss cheese and dill pickles follow. It is pressed and toasted, similar to a panini. Yum.

And then came Ropa Vieja. Plantanos Maduros. Moros y Cristianos. The list goes on.

Eventually, Boliche Criollo became one of my Go To dishes for when I’d have people over for dinner. Boliche is an eye of round roast that is stuffed with chorizo and ham and then roasted with red wine, onions and garlic. The drippings, onions and cooking liquid is then blended to make a gravy. I usually serve it with roasted root veggies, rice, roasted plantains and a green salad.

Boliche Criollo

Not the greatest picture in the world… but it was mighty tasty!

This dish has a lot of history for me. As well as having made it several times for dear friends, I made this dish as a part of the dinner I made for the last birthday that my Dad was with us.

The only thing that I’d consider a drawback is that the eye of round is a particularly lean cut and dries out easily. Very easily.

So fast forward a few years. I’ve moved from Florida back to the Midwest, specifically to Topeka. I’m working for a tech firm that is mostly all guys. The Dudes, I call them. All things being equal, I tend to be the Cruise Director amongst my group of friends. I tend to be the one who organizes the events. I cook for people. I enjoy it. And, being one of the lone females in the office, I tend to fall into that role much easier.

Thanksgiving is around the corner. Since my office is manned 24/7/365, we have people in the office on the holidays. Typically, the company will cater in a meal for the people working that day. In the past, we’ve done traditional turkey meals. One year it was BBQ. Another year, everyone just was given a budget to expense a meal and left to their own devices. (That’s what you get for complaining about the catering choices!) The options for catering on T-day are pretty limited.

This year, I offered to cook for the Dudes working that day, both a day and night shift. I gave them five or six options–Cuban, Italian, Swedish, Thai, traditional American turkey dinner–and they all voted. Cuban it was and Boliche in particular, along with mashed potatoes, rice, a green salad and tres leche cake for dessert. This tickled me until performance anxiety started to sink in. How to tackle the issue of the meat drying out so easily? The meal wouldn’t be served immediately. I’d make it at home and then take it to the office. It would be refrigerated and then heated up in either a microwave or toaster oven by both shifts whenever they decided to eat.

Most of my menu is pretty microwave friendly. I have a method for making mashers that reheats very well. Steamed rice is easy enough to reheat. But the meat? I started to do a little research and found a method that was supposed to be a workaround that produces a moist and juicy eye of round. (Thanks, Domestic Man!) The idea was that you roast the meat at a high temp (7 minutes per pound at 500) and then turn off the oven, letting the meat sit in the hot oven for 2.5 hours.

In a test run before the actual day, I tried it and it was a success! Reading over some of the comments, various people have recommended different times and temperatures for medium rare, etc. Honestly, I was just so relieved to get the results I had hoped for that I’m not presently inclined to complain. I might experiment with an unstuffed eye of round at some point in time… but, for now, I’m calling it good!

Want the recipe? I think you do.

Boliche Criollo
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Cuban
  • 3 pounds beef eye of round roast
  • 3 large onions, peeled and quartered
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 6 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • ½ lb ham (I like Burger's Country Ham)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons granulated dried garlic
  • 1 cup red wine
  • ½ lb chorizo
  • 4 tablespoons paprika
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  1. Preheat your oven to 500 degrees.
  2. Cube the ham into smallish bits, about ¼". Remove casings from the chorizo and mix it together with the cubed ham.
  3. With a knife, pierce a hole into the roast throughout the length of it. Should be about 1" wide but I'll often make it a little bigger if the roast is larger or if I just want to use a lot of delicious ham and chorizo.
  4. Over a medium-high burner, heat up the olive oil in an oven-safe Dutch oven. While the oil is heating, mix up the salt, pepper and dry garlic. Rub it on the outside of the roast.
  5. When the oil is up to heat, brown the roast on all sides. Leaving the roast in the Dutch oven, add the onions, garlic, bay leaves, red wine and beef broth. If your Dutch oven can't accommodate all the liquid, add only the broth that will comfortably fit in the cooking vessel.
  6. Put the uncovered Dutch oven in the hot oven for 7 minutes for every pound of your roast. (So, for example, if you have a 3 pound roast, your cooking time will be 21 minutes.) Once the cooking time has completed, DO NOT open the oven to remove the roast. Leave everything in the closed oven for 2.5 hours.
  7. After the 2.5 hours has elapsed, take the roast out of the oven and remove it from the Dutch oven. Set it on a cutting board to rest and then slice later. Fish out the bay leaves and discard.
  8. Put all the drippings, cooking liquid and cooked onions in a blender or food processor and process until smooth.
  9. Serve sliced boliche with the gravy along with your choice of sides. The gravy is good over rice!