Yuca (pronounced yoo-cuh) roots are the roots of the cassava plant and are not part of the ornamental yucca plants, which are quite stabby. They are a dense, starchy tuber that resemble small logs and have a very hard skin. The nice thing about yuca roots is that they are quite flexible, being able to replace potatoes, and can be shaped and molded into a dough form quite easily. Yuca roots should NOT be eaten raw, as they are toxic in the raw form.
I have used them for yuca root “tortillas”, yuca gnocchi, and biscuits. They take a little time to prepare, as typical peelers just won’t work. They also have a fiber running down the middle that should be removed. To begin, cut off the ends of the root to give you a stable area to place on a cutting board, then carefully slice off the skin using a sharp knife. I usually cut it into ~2″ sections and then cut in half to make it easier to handle. Then you can remove the middle fiber with the tip of a knife–cut a V out of the middle of each section, with the yuca on a flat side and the blade going down toward the board.
Next, put the yuca pieces in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil for 15-20 minutes, the yuca will break apart slightly. Drain and allow to cool, then prepare as desired.
Check out my yuca root tortilla recipe for ideas!