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 yellow onion, chopped
1/3 cup green pepper, chopped
1/3 cup chopped celery
4 ajies 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 water or 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 West Indian Pumpkin (or substitute with butternut squash), peeled and cubed into 1-inch pieces
2 medium potatoes, scrubbed clean and quartered
1 large chayote, peeled, cored, and diced into 1-inch pieces
1 large yautia, peeled and cubed into 1-inch pieces
1 small yuca, peeled and cubed into 1-inch pieces

2 ears of white corn, cleaned and sliced into 6 parts each

Preparation
In a large caldero, over low-to-medium heat, combine olive oil, garlic, 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. Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes or so, then cook on high until 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. You might need to add a bit more water to get it just the way you like it. Sancocho is a thick soup.

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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