Sancocho | Last week it was crazy cold outside. I never thought that when I moved to Texas the temperatures would dip below 25 degrees! Cold weather like this calls for a warm hearty stew. Something to warm the soul and fill the belly. Without a doubt, my favorite stew is Sancocho, which translates as stew. In Puerto Rico when a person has spent all day under the hot sun, it is said that they are “sancochao”, which means stewing in the heat.
What is Sancocho?
Sancocho is a satisfying stew with humble origins. Every country has their own version of stew. They would make a huge pot and let it stew all day and have a hearty meal ready after a long day of labor. Variations of sancocho can be found throughout the Spanish Caribbean and Latin America.
What is in Sancocho?
Sancocho is made up of beef tips, beef stock and a variety of starches that are both native to the island and to Africa. Although plantains are associated with the Puerto Rican cuisine, the plantain is originally from Africa. My favorite starch in this stew is the yuca root, which is native to Puerto Rico and was used by the native Taino Indians.
Where to find Sancocho Ingredients?
I have lived all over the United States and I know that finding these ingredients can be challenging depending on where you live. Of course, you can find most of the ingredients at your local Latin market. And, now many of the items including yuca and plantains can be found at any large chain grocery store especially if you are close to a metropolitan area.
However, you may be surprised to know that many of the ingredients can also be found in a local Asian market. many Asian countries share a similar climate to the Caribbean so they carry much of the same produce. I was lucky enough to find frozen yuca at my local Asian market.
If you can’t find something it’s ok to swap out root vegetables with what is available. If you are missing something, add a little more of something else, but do not leave out the corn. The corn is one of the best parts.
I always save my corn for the very end; it is almost like a savory dessert. I remember when my sister and I were young we use to fight over the last piece of corn in the pot. She is a scrappy one, but I didn’t go down without a fight.
Sancocho Recipe Ingredients
2 Tbs olive oil
5 garlic cloves
1 1/2 lbs top round beef
1/3 cup yellow onions
1/3 cup green pepper
5 sprigs of cilantro
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 quarts beef stock
1 green plantain
1 yellow plantain
1 medium sweet potato
1 medium yuca
1/2 lb butternut squash
3 medium new potatoes
2 ears of yellow corn
This stew is just heaven and reminds me so much of home. OB was very excited to come home to a huge pot of sancocho. It is very filling and bursting with flavor. Especially on a cold rainy day like today.
If you have any left, refrigerate it and save it for later. This stew is even better the next day after it has been marinating overnight. I think Obed, and I ate from this pot for three days. You can also freeze it in portions and have it on hand for a cold rainy day. To me, it’s a little piece of home in a bowl.
Tips for Sancocho
- Although yuca and plantains can be found at many chain grocery stores they can also be found a local Latin and Asian markets.
- Prepare a double batch if possible for leftovers and easy weeknight dinners.
- Leftovers can be portioned and frozen.
- Sancocho is often served with white rice.
If you are craving something a little lighter try this chunky roasted tomato soup. But, of course, everyone loves a classic sopa de fideo con pollo (chicken noodle soup). If you want something hearty and loaded with aromatics and spices you need to try this Moroccan Lamb Stew with Harissa and Garbanzos.
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- 2 Tbs olive oil
- 5 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 1/2 lbs top round beef, cubed into 1-inch pieces
- 1/3 cup yellow onions, chopped
- 1/3 cup green pepper, chopped
- 5 sprigs of cilantro, chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 4 quarts beef stock
- 1 green plantain, peeled and slice into 1-inch pieces
- 1 yellow plantain, peeled and sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 medium sweet potato, diced into 1-inch pieces
- 1 medium yuca
- 1/2 lb butternut squash, peeled and cubed into 1-inch pieces
- 3 medium new potatoes, peeled and quartered
- 2 ears of yellow corn, cleaned and sliced into 6 parts each
- In a preheated dutch oven or heavy pot 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.
- Add in chopped pepper, cilantro, salt, pepper, and 1 quart of beef stock. Cook down until stock is reduced by half about 20 minutes.
- Stir beef, then add all the remaining vegetables and remaining beef stock. Bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cover for 30 minutes.
- Uncover and simmer for 20 - 30 minutes or until the stock has reduced some and meat is tender and the vegetables are soft. Serve
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