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The I Love Lucy Cookbook

The I Love Lucy Cookbook brings to scrumptious life food featured on the show, as well as tantalizing dishes inspired by classic episodes such as “Lucy’s Italian Movie,” “Job Switching,” and “Paris at Last.”
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THE BRILLIANCE OF Lucy and Ricky’s dynamic is that despite their differences, they were the consummate couple. Ricky’s roots in Cuba are key to not only his music, but to his personality. He often lost his temper over Lucy’s antics and broke out into a diatribe of Spanish, but his love for her always shone through.

Ricky’s joy when he sings of his homeland is palpable, and the recipes in this chapter relate to his native Cuba. Carne de Puerco con Chile Verde (here) is inspired by the episode “Lucy’s Mother-in-Law.” When Ricky’s mother comes to visit, the first thing Lucy does is crack open a Cuban cookbook to see how she can make an impression with this classic Cuban dish. In the episode “Job Switching,” Ricky himself decides to take on his favorite meal: arroz con pollo. He ends up with an explosion in the kitchen—a sloppy mess of rice from the floor to the ceiling. Don’t worry, this chapter’s recipe for Ricky’s Favorite Arroz con Pollo here is much tidier, with authentic Cuban flavors that shine through like Ricky’s love of his country.

In this chapter, enjoy this and many more dishes inspired by Cuba. Side note: Desi Arnaz was himself an extremely accomplished cook, known for making fabulous homemade Cuban cuisine for family and friends.




Inspired by Episode 8: “Men Are Messy” (Season 1)



IN THIS CLASSIC episode, it’s men vs. women in the battle of housekeeping, and the Ricardos’ apartment gets divided in two. When Fred visits Ricky on “his side,” Ricky offers him some leftover chicken, but the catch is—the kitchen is on Lucy’s side of the apartment!

Inspired by Ricky’s willingness to feed his pal, this classic Cuban chicken dish is marinated and roasted, and just as delicious no matter which side of the apartment it’s served on.

1 whole chicken, cut into pieces


⅓ cup olive oil

⅓ cup orange juice

¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice

6 garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons cumin

2 teaspoons oregano

2 teaspoons salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

• To make the marinade, in a small bowl, stir together the olive oil, orange juice, lime juice, garlic, cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper.

• Place the chicken in a sealable bag and pour in the marinade. Keep in the refrigerator for 6 hours or overnight.

• Preheat the oven to 375°F. Place the chicken in a roasting pan and discard the marinade.

• Bake for 1 hour or until an instant-read thermometer reads 165°F.

• Let rest for 5 minutes, then serve. Follow this dish with Aloha Cream Pie (here) and you’ll have a scrumptious meal for visiting guests!





Inspired by Episode 105: “Lucy’s Mother-in-Law” (Season 4)



HAVING NEVER MET her mother-in-law, Lucy is anxious, and with Mother Ricardo’s imminent arrival from Cuba, Lucy wants nothing more than to make a good impression. Cooking a quintessential Cuban dish is a surefire way to win her over, so Lucy consults a Cuban cookbook where she finds a recipe for Carne de Puerco con Chile Verde. Translated as “green chile pork stew,” this dinner of simmering pork shoulder in salsa verde is a melt-in-your-mouth Cuban meal that no mother-in-law could possibly resist.


1 pound tomatillos, husks removed, rinsed and dried

1 cup fresh cilantro, stems removed

1 cup diced onion

1 jalapeño, stemmed (seeded, if desired)

1 serrano pepper, stemmed (seeded, if desired)

4 garlic cloves

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice

½ teaspoon salt


2 tablespoons olive oil

3 pounds pork butt, cubed

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

• Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Cut the tomatillos in half and place on the baking sheet. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes until almost falling apart. Let cool, until easy enough to handle.

• Place the roasted tomatillos in a blender. Add the cilantro, onion, jalapeño, serrano pepper, garlic, lime juice, and salt. Blend until combined. Set aside.

• In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, brown the pork in the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

• Add the blended salsa verde. Cover and simmer on low for 1½ hours. Serve with rice, and your in-laws will welcome you with open arms.





Featured in Episode 92: “The Diner” (Season 3)



RICKY IS READY to leave the entertainment business for steady work. Fred laments along with him, leading the Ricardos and Mertzes to join forces and open a diner. A terrible argument leads them to split the restaurant in two—literally right down the middle, with one half called “Little Bit of Cuba,” and the other rechristened “Big Hunk of America.” Emulating Fred’s diner-speak, “Bring the bull in the ring and laugh in its face” is Ricky’s version of an order for a hamburger with no onions. Inspired by this order, this juicy burger is made with a savory trio of beef, pork, and chorizo, topped with thin, fried shoestring potatoes and a touch of ketchup. Known colloquially as a frita, this uniquely Cuban burger is the perfect combination of the Caribbean and America, fitting easily on the menu of the gang’s diner.

1 large russet potato

Vegetable oil for frying

1 teaspoon salt, divided

1 pound ground beef

½ pound ground pork

½ pound chorizo

1 cup dry breadcrumbs

½ cup minced onion

1 garlic clove, minced

1 large egg

1 teaspoon paprika

½ teaspoon cumin

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

½ cup ketchup, for serving

6 buns

• Cut the potato into thin matchsticks. Place them in a large bowl of water for 45 minutes, then drain and dry thoroughly.

• In a Dutch oven, add the potatoes and pour in enough oil to just cover them. Turn the heat to medium high, until the oil starts to bubble. Cook for 30 minutes, until golden brown. Let drain, and immediately season with ½ teaspoon salt. Set aside.

• In a large bowl, combine the beef, pork, chorizo, breadcrumbs, onion, garlic, egg, paprika, cumin, the remaining salt, and pepper.

• Form the mixture into six patties and cook in a skillet over medium-high heat, until cooked through.

• Spread ketchup on the buns. Place a patty on the bottom bun, top with fried potatoes, then the top bun, to serve.

• This burger is both a little bit of Cuba and a big hunk of America, all in one bite!





Inspired by Episode 17: “Lucy Writes a Play” (Season 1)



LUCY DECIDES TO write a play that’s “dripping with drama, dripping with intrigue, dripping with excitement,” and its setting is Havana. When Ricky refuses to participate in the production, Lucy changes the locale, but the lure of a Caribbean island can’t be beat—and neither can this sandwich. This classic Cubano is a heavenly blend of ham, roasted pork, cheese, and pickles on delicious pan-pressed Cuban bread. A taste combination so beautiful, it’s simply inspirational for all creative endeavors!


3 pound pork shoulder

Mojo marinade (here)


2 Cuban bolillo (bread rolls)

3 tablespoons yellow mustard

6 slices ham

6 slices roast pork

6 slices Swiss cheese

1 dill pickle, cut into slices lengthwise

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

• Place the pork in a sealable bag and pour in the marinade. Keep in the refrigerator for 6 hours or overnight.

• Preheat the oven to 325°F.

• Cook the roast for 1½ hours or until an internal thermometer reads 145°F. Remove from the oven and cover with aluminum foil. Let rest for 15 minutes. Cut into thin slices.

• Slice the bread in half and generously spread the mustard on both sides. To assemble each sandwich, layer the ham, roast pork, cheese, and pickles between the two slices of bread.

• Melt the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat, add a sandwich, and place a heavy cast iron skillet on top, pressing down onto the bread.

• Cook until golden brown, then turn the sandwich over and repeat with the skillet press, until the cheese is melted.

• Slice in half to serve, and let this tasty treat inspire your creativity!





Cooking Cuban Style


Ricky’s Cuban roots are a recurring theme in I Love Lucy, whether it’s his transition between Spanish and English in conversation, or the Latin music he performs at the club. The show highlights the cultural differences between Lucy and Ricky, but it also illustrates how Ricky’s background makes them stronger and adds considerable pizzazz to their union (especially in contrast to the Mertzes!).

By mentioning his favorite meal of arroz con pollo throughout the series, Ricky introduced 1950s audiences to something that sounds exotic, but when you break it down it’s a dish that’s universal: chicken and rice. Every culture has its own version of this protein and side, but no matter how it’s prepared, it’s pure comfort food.

Ever supportive, throughout the series Lucy often finds ways to give Ricky a touch or taste of his homeland. Whether it’s fixing up the house into a Havana-wonderland with classic party food, or studying a Cuban cookbook to impress her mother-in-law, Lucy is always all-in—and sometimes overboard—when it comes to bringing the lifestyle and traditions of Cuba into their home.


“I’m on my way to Cuba, that’s where I’m going.… Cuba, that’s where I’ll stay.”







Inspired by Episode 28: “Cuban Pals” (Season 1)



RICKY’S OLD FRIENDS from Cuba come to visit and although there’s a bit of a language barrier, that won’t stop Lucy from being the consummate hostess. The best way to entertain company is with refreshments, so Lucy arranges a beautiful tray of appetizers to make her guests feel at home. Inspired by her cordiality, these pastelitos are Cuban pastries stuffed with sweet guava filling. They’re always a crowd-pleaser and a great way to break the ice among new friends!

1 package (17 ounces) puff pastry, thawed

1 bar (14 ounces) guava paste

4 tablespoons guava jelly

1 large egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash

• Preheat the oven to 400°F. Prep a baking sheet with Silpats or parchment paper.

• Place 1 sheet of puff pastry on the baking sheet.

• Cut the guava paste into 12 thin slices and place them on the puff pastry. Add a teaspoon of guava jelly on top of each slice.

• Place the second sheet of puff pastry on top. Cut into 12 pieces. Score the top of each piece, and brush with the egg wash.

• Bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool on a wire rack.

• Once cooled, serve and you’ll make instant friends!





Featured in Episode 39: “Job Switching” (Season 2)



YOU CAN TAKE the boy out of Cuba but you can’t take Cuba out of the boy. Whenever Ricky gets a hankering for a taste of home, he makes mention of his favorite meal, arroz con pollo. It may be a simple aromatic dish of simmered chicken and rice, but when Ricky endeavors to make it himself, let’s just say it doesn’t go as planned. By turning up the pressure cooker and also adding too much rice to the pot, Ricky and Fred end up in a physical battle with flying chickens and exploding rice, with only a dustpan and broom to defend themselves. This recipe takes a much calmer approach to cooking and is a hearty and delicious version of Ricky’s favorite dinner.


6 bone-in chicken thighs

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon cumin

¼ teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons vegetable oil


2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, diced

1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 cups long-grain rice

2 cups chicken stock

1 can (14 ounces) diced tomatoes

2 teaspoons cumin

1 teaspoon annatto powder

1 teaspoon oregano

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 bay leaf

½ cup frozen peas

• Season the chicken thighs with salt, cumin, and pepper.

• Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat and place the chicken thighs in the pot to brown on all sides. Remove and set aside.

• To the same pot, add the onion, red bell pepper, and garlic. Cook until softened.

• Add the rice, chicken stock, tomatoes, cumin, annatto powder, oregano, salt, pepper, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil.

• Reduce the heat and nestle the chicken into the rice. Cover and simmer on low for 45 minutes.

• Fluff the rice, then add the peas. Cover and cook for another 10 minutes. Let cool slightly, then serve up for a mouthwatering taste of Cuba!

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