Sancocho

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May 5, 2018

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In Colombia, sancocho is a soup or stew containing large pieces of meat, vegetables and root vegetables, served in a broth. In our recipe below, the meat used is chicken, but colombians will use many other types of meat as well, depending on availability. Hen, ox tail, beef ribs, pork ribs and fish are some examples.

Dishes similar to sancocho appear in many different culinary traditions around the world, and in Spanish speaking countries the name sancocho is widespread.

The name sancocho is derived from the Spanish verb sancochar, to parboil.

Sancocho recipes

Ingredients (6 big servings)

  • 2 cups of fresh chopped cilantro leaves, divided
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 red spicy chili pepper (e.g. Habanero), chopped
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 1 gallon water
  • 3 chicken bouillon cubes
  • 1 tablespoon of ground cumin
  • Salt & Pepper, to taste
  • One chicken (3-4 lbs) cut into eight pieces
  • 1 small yucca, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 green (unripe) plantain, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 5 potatoes, halved (not peeled)
  • 2 ripe plantains, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 4 ears of corn, each ear cut into three pieces

Toppings

  • Avocado slices
  • Boiled white rice
  • Lime wedges for squeezing juice into the soup

Instructions

  1. Puree 1 cup of the cilantro together with onion, garlic, bell peppers, chili pepper and carrots in a blender.
  2. In a large pot, combine the puree with water and bouillon cubes. Season with cumin, salt and pepper.
  3. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat and leave to simmer for half an hour.
  4. Add the chicken to the liquid and leave to simmer for 20 minutes.
  5. Add the yucca and the green plantain. Leave to simmer for 10 minutes.
  6. Add potatoes, ripe plantain and corn. Leave to simmer 15 minutes.
  7. Put some of the broth from the pot into the blender and combine it with the remaining 1 cup of cilantro. Then stir it back into the soup. This gives the soup an extra cilantro kick.
  8. Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Serve hot. Put the toppings in bowls on the table so each person can add their own toppings to their bowl of soup.

Sancocho in other countries

Puerto Rico

One of the many countries were a dish called sancocho is popular is Puerto Rico, where it is prepared as a stew and served with rice, tostones and a spicy citrus sauce called pique criollo.

There are several different types of sancocho in Puerto Rico, such as sancocho de gallina (made with chicken, and often also some smoked ham) and sanchocho de patitas (sancocho with pork feet and chick peas). If it’s simply called sancocho, it is likely to be made with top round beef.

What most Puerto Rican recipes for sancocho have in common is that they include guineos, sofrito, sazón, corn on the cob and various tubers. To this, various flavorings are added, e.g. bay leaves, oregano, ginger, thyme, parsley and/or celery. Some recipies even call for wine or rum.

Dominican Republic

In the Domican Republic, sancocho de gallina is made with hen and popular for weekend dinners with family and friends. Other examples of sancochos eaten in the Dominican Republic are sancocho de habichuela which is made with beans and sancocho de guandules which is made with pigeon peas. Sancocho de siete carnes means “seven meat sancocho” and is prepared with chicken, beef, pork, longaniza and more. Longaniza is a type of pork sausage.

Venezuela

In Venezuela, sancochos is a popular Sunday meal. Families in the Llanos region tend to favor beef in their sancocho, while chicken is more common in the central and western parts of the country. Sancochos made from beef stomach and shank, or the eqvivalent from a goat, is a speciality to the states of Falcón and Lara. Unsurprisingly, people living towards the coast often make sancocho from fish and other seafood.

When sancocho is to be eaten as an everyday meal, it is typially prepared as a soup and eaten without side dishes. For Sundays and celebrations, making sancocho stew is popular, served with cassava or arepas. In Venezuelan Spanish, “going to a sancocho” has become shorthand for attending a party.

The list of commonly used vegetables and tubers include onion, garlic, yam, cassava, jojoto (maize), taro (malanga), squash, cabbage, cilantro, and topocho banana.

Ecuador

In the Ecuadorian mountains, sancocho is typically made with pork. In other regions, hen, chicken or ox tail is more common. Near the coast, a typical sancocho will contain fish. Just as in other countries, the Ecuadorian sancocho contains a combo of tubers and veggies, e.g.corn, plantain and yuca.

Panama

Sancocho de gallina – sancocho made from hen – is associated with the Azuero region of Panama but is today eaten throughout the country and has become somewhat of a national dish for Panama. It is prepared as a stew and served with rice on the side and hot sauce.

Examples of commonly utilized ingredients are hen or chicken, yuca, yam, taro, onion, garlic, corn on the cob, otoe and culantro. The culantro gives the stew a greenish tinge.

Sancocho chorrerano is a speciality of a town called La Chorrea, where it is made from chicken, yam, chili peppers, onions, garlic and oregano.

Sancocho chiricano is prepared in the Chiriquí province and is made extra thick by the addition of squash. The squash also makes the stew look more yellow than standard Panamanian sancocho.

El Salvador

In El Salvador, sancocho is usually made with offal of cattle, e.g. the stomach. It is served as a stew, not a soup.

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