Sancocho

Serves 6

It is said of a person who has been under the sweltering sun that he is sancochao - blistering hot or "stewing." This Puerto Rican stew best illustrates the one-step cooking method, a typical food preparation that has prevailed for five hundred years in Puerto Rican homes, primarily because it allows the latitude for batch cooking a nutritious meal in a single pot.

2 tablespoons olive oil
5 garlic cloves, minced
1-1/2 pounds top round beef, cubed into 1-1/2-inch pieces
1/3 cup chopped yellow onions
1/3 cup chopped green pepper
1/3 cup chopped celery
1 aji dulce; seeded and minced
5 sprigs of cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 medium tomatoes, cored and chopped
4 quarts beef stock
2 green bananas, peeled and slice into 1-inch pieces
1 yellow plantain, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium sweet potato (1/2 pound), diced into 1-inch pieces
1/2 pound butternut squash, peeled and cubed into 1-inch pieces
3 medium new potatoes, scrubbed clean and quartered
1 large chayote, peeled, cored, and diced into 1-inch pieces
2 ears of white corn, cleaned and sliced into 6 parts each

Preparation
In a preheated kettle over low-to-medium heat, combine olive oil, garlic, beef cubes, and onions, stir until beef is brown on all sides and onions begin to caramelize. Fold in chopped pepper, celery, aji dulce, cilantro, salt, pepper, tomatoes, and 1 quart of beef stock. Cook down until stock is reduced by half.

Stir beef, then fold in all the remaining vegetables and beef stock. Continue to cook until meat is tender and the vegetables soft.

Serving Suggestions: Since this soup contains beef and vegetables, it is hearty already. Serve alongside a freshly baked french bread and use the bread to soak up some of this delicious flavor.


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