Susie and Iván Núñez have developed a comfortable blend of international culinary styles that has evolved into the distinctive Casa Núñez flavor. Iván learned the traditional cooking of his native Puerto Rico from his grandmother and his great-aunt. As a young man, he not only owned a successful Mexican restaurant called “Paso Real” in New Mexico, but also placed third in the prestigious Chilympiad in San Marcos, Texas. He later married Susie in Gibraltar and the pair made their first home together in Madrid, Spain. Through his Air Force Attaché duty at the U.S. Embassy in Madrid, the couple began collecting authentic recipes from both Spanish and third-country acquaintances. They had regular reasons to invite a wide variety of guests to the Núñez home for meals and the Casa Núñez entertainment style was born.
What is your favorite ingredient to cook with?
Casa Núñez favorite ingredient is “Adobo” by Goya. Adobo adds super flavor in a flash. Just sprinkle any of the different blends over meats, poultry, seafood and vegetables before cooking. You can also use it to punch up the taste of sauces and marinades. Iván has a bottle in his car to use when we go out to different restaurants.
What ingredient do you dread?
Actually, nothing. We have included ingredients from around the world and ensure the authentic recipes have the right flavors.
What’s your favorite dish to make?
The Casa Núñez Pavochón.
Roasting a turkey for Thanksgiving in the manner of lechón (suckling pig) has been a tradition in Puerto Rico since the island became an American commonwealth and adopted the holiday. The word Pavochón is a combination of the Spanish word for turkey, pavo, and the word for roasted pig, lechón. On the Spanish speaking Caribbean islands, the meat of choice for any holiday is roasted suckling pig. It only makes sense to combine the tradition of the islands with an American tradition and serve turkey that is reminiscent of roasted pork for Thanksgiving. This flavor intensive recipe will go over well with the most discriminating of tastes!
1 head of garlic (cloves separated, peeled, and minced) or garlic powder
1 tablespoon whole black pepper
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon parsley
1 tablespoon cilantro
1 packet Sazón Goya
3 tablespoons Adobo Goya
1 cup Mojo Goya
1 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 14-pound turkey
Mash the first seven ingredients into a paste using a pilón (mortar and pestle). Stir in the Mojo, olive oil, and apple cider vinegar. Rub the mixture under the turkey’s skin, inside the cavities, and on top of the skin.
Stuff the turkey with Casa Núñez picadillo (recipe below).
Roast the turkey, covered with aluminum foil, and according to the manufacturer’s recommended time and temperature. After 2 hours, remove the foil and baste with the pan juices every 20-30 minutes. A 14 to 16-pound turkey will generally take about 3 to 4-1/2 hours to cook to an internal temperature of 160º.
Casa Núñez Ground Beef – Picadillo
1-1/2 pounds ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 15-ounce can of chopped tomatoes, drained
2 teaspoons ground cumin
¼ teaspoon ground coriander
Adobo to taste
1 packet Sazón
1 teaspoon capers
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup quartered and pitted green olives
In a large stainless-steel frying pan, cook the ground beef until it is no longer pink. Remove all the fat; add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables start to soften, about 3 minutes.
Stir in the tomatoes, cumin, coriander, Adobo, Sazón, capers, olives, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.
Allow to cool before using as stuffing.
What’s your favorite pig out food?
Our Cuban Sandwich!
Check out our recipe:
Ingredients to marinate the pork:
1 cup Mojo
½ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon Adobo
1 packet Sazón
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon garlic powder
3-4-pound pork loin, trimmed and cleaned
Dinner rolls (1-2 per person being served), pork, Swiss cheese, sliced ham, mayonnaise, yellow mustard, and hamburger dill pickle chips
Mix ingredients for marinade together and coat the pork loin with it; let it sit for at least an hour, but preferably overnight. Roast in 425º oven for approximately 2 hours or until a meat thermometer registers 160º at the center. Remove from oven and let rest 10 minutes before slicing thinly. Slice dinner rolls in half lengthwise for sandwiches and spread each half with mayonnaise and mustard, respectively. Cover one side with pork and a slice of Swiss cheese (you may have to trim it so that there is not too much overlap), and the other with a slice of ham. Add dill pickles to taste and enough pieces of pork to cover the other ingredients. If you have a panini press, follow the directions to press down the sandwiches. If not, heat some butter or margarine in a frying or grill pan and, when hot, place the sandwiches on it close together. Using another frying pan of smaller diameter, as weight, or a spatula, press the sandwiches down as they cook (they should compress to about half of their original height). When the bottom side is lightly browned, flip the sandwiches over and repeat on the second side.
What restaurant, other than your own do you like to dine at in the Miami Valley?
Pasha Grill in The Greene.
What’s your best advice for home chefs?
The world is filled with exciting traditional food; never stop trying new recipes that introduce you to different cultures.
If you could invite any 4 guests to a dinner party who would they be and why?
Casa Núñez will invite our friends Jose Andres (Jaleo in DC), Jose Maria (Segovia, Spain), Jesus (El Mesón del Cid, Madrid, Spain), and Vaso (Alexandra, VA). Outstanding chefs of international cuisine!
Who do you look up to in the industry and why?
We would like to recognize the chefs and assisting staff at the Dorothy Lane Market Culinary Center. We were invited to conduct cooking classes there about four years ago and we have had the best experiences learning and working with them.
What do you do in the Miami Valley on a day off?
Even though we have a business cooking, we are definitely foodies and like to try out new recipes. Lazy weekends are perfect for antique shopping or movie marathons. There is always music playing at Casa Núñez, whether it’s recorded or Iván has picked up his guitar to sing. He also paints and draws. Susie is an old-school correspondent who still writes letters to friends for the regular mail and has an average word length of 22 in “Words With Friends”.
Share a kitchen disaster, lucky break or other interesting story:
Casa Núñez had a wonderful time participating in the Ronald McDonald House Charities fundraiser “Doors Of Compassion”; a real challenge and rewarding first time for us in 2019. Each featured chef was provided with a “basket” of ingredients to make a meal at a hosts’ home. We thought that we had to include each of the ingredients. However, we later found out that different chefs created their own menus, regardless of what was provided. This was after we had prepared a Spanish Tapas meal of 11 different dishes based on what we had been given.
Here’s your chance to enjoy their cooking at a meal they’ll prepare in their home and serve on their patio on Sept. 23rd.
The Dorothy Lane Market cooking classes they mentioned above are:
Oct 8 – Oktoberfest Celebration
The world’s largest festival, traditionally is held in late September and early October (it runs 16 days!) in Munich, Germany. Our German-style celebration is a bit smaller but just as much fun. Join Iván and Susie for this festive celebration of German food, beer, and wine. Bratwurst Sausages with Pretzels and Sauerkraut, German Potato Salad, Oktoberfest Roast, White Asparagus, and German Chocolate Cupcakes.
Dec 10th- Barrel House Cooking
Bourbons, with their wonderfully rich flavor profiles, make them a culinary gem. Just like cooking with wine, Bourbon offers an incredible depth of flavor. With caramel undertones, smokey, and sometimes wheaty notes, Bourbon adds great flavor to both savory and dessert dishes. We’re all familiar with Bourbon balls, and how Bourbon elevates eggnog to greatness, but Iván and Susie will explore a wider range of culinary uses. They’ll explain the nuances of this special barrel-aged libation, such as the importance of only using one you enjoy sipping, and how different styles of Bourbon affect dishes differently. Cajun Sausage Puffs with Bourbon Mustard; Spinach Salad with Bacon, Blue Cheese, and Bourbon Vinaigrette; Bourbon-Glazed Salmon; Bourbon Sweet Potatoes; and Maple-Bourbon Banana Cake. This menu will be served with wine.