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Recipes / Von Diaz’s Keshi Yena (Stuffed Cheese)

Von Diaz’s Keshi Yena (Stuffed Cheese)

By The Editors

Published March 13, 2024

It's believed this dish emerged during the first Dutch colonial period in Curaçao, when enslaved cooks used the rinds of cheese their masters discarded, stuffed them with a blend of meat scraps and other ingredients, and baked it. The dish is still served in Curaçao, though prepared more simply by lining a round container with cheese and stuffing it with seasoned beef or chicken as well as raisins and olives. — Von Diaz

Photo: Lauren Vied Allen
Photo: Lauren Vied Allen
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Von Diaz shared this recipe when she joined us on Food with Mark Bittman.

Tip: Keshi yena should be enjoyed warm but keeps well in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, and in the freezer for up to 6 months. Reheat in the oven at 350°F (180°C) for 15 minutes for best results, fully defrosting first if frozen.

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Von Diaz’s Keshi Yena (Stuffed Cheese)

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Makes 10 to 12 servings 1x

Time 2 1/2 hours

Units Scale

Ingredients

Filling

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 Thai red chile, minced
  • 2 pounds (910 g) ground beef
  • 3 ripe roma tomatoes, about 8 ounces (227g), peeled and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon capers (optional)
  • 1/4 cup (35 g) raisins (optional)
  • 1/4 cup (40 g) pimento-stuffed olives
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 4 eggs

Stuffed cheese

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 pounds (910 g) sliced Gouda (not smoked), Havarti, Muenster, or Monterey Jack cheese

Instructions

To make the filling: In a heavy-bottomed pot over medium, heat the olive oil. Sauté the onion and bell pepper for 3 to 5 minutes, until the onion is translucent, then add the garlic and chile and sauté for 1 minute longer. Add the beef and sauté for 5 minutes over medium heat, or until evenly browned. Add the tomatoes, capers (if using), raisins (if using), olives, tomato paste, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, and parsley. Simmer for 20 minutes, then set aside and let cool.

To make the stuffed cheese: Meanwhile, butter ten to twelve oven-safe ramekins. Line each ramekin with enough cheese slices to fully cover the bottom and sides.

Photo: Lauren Vied Allen

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Prepare a water bath by putting 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 cm) of water in a deep rectangular casserole dish, and set aside.

When the filling is cool, beat the eggs and add to the mixture, stirring well to incorporate. Fill a cheese-lined ramekin with egg filling until there is about 1/2 inch (13 mm) of room at the top, then cover the top with another piece of cheese, breaking apart slices as needed to cover completely but not fall over the top. Repeat for each ramekin.

Photo: Lauren Vied Allen

Place the ramekins in the water bath, cover with foil, and bake for 1 hour. Carefully remove the pan and let sit for at least 5 minutes. Carefully remove each ramekin with tongs and transfer to a heat-proof surface. Let rest for at least 10 minutes before serving. Keshi yena can be eaten straight out of the ramekin or inverted onto a plate using a knife to separate the cheese from the edges of the ramekin.

— Recipe from Islas: A Celebration of Tropical Cooking125 Recipes from the Indian, Atlantic, and Pacific Ocean Islands by Von Diaz. © 2024. Published by Chronicle Books. Photographs © Lauren Vied Allen.