Puchero from Río de la Plata

Puchero is a type of stew originally from Spain, where it is associated with Andalusia. Through Spanish migration, the tradition of making Puchero has spread to other parts of the world, including the Philippine and many parts of Latin America. A lot of different versions have developed over the years, so there is on “one true recipe” for Puchero. It is more correct to see it as a group of many related stews growing from a shared heritage, and adapted to be cooked from locally available ingredients in different parts of the world.

In Spanish, the word puchero originally signified a type of earthenware pot. Today, it is used for a wider range of cooking vessels.

Río de la Plata puchero

Puchero is a popular dish in the Río de la Plata region, which is shared by Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay.

By the estauray of Río de la Plata, puchero will typically include a lot of beef, as beef has traditionally been readily available here and not very expensive. While chickpeas are a common ingredient in puchero back in Europe, they are unusual in puchero in this part of the world.

The steps for making the puchero in Río de la Plata are similar to the steps used on the Iberian peninsula, but when it comes to consumption, the customs differ from each other. In the Río de la Plata estaury region, the broth and the solid ingredients are often consumed separately.

In this part of the world, puchero is a dish served during the coldest months of the year. It is considered a rustic dish. You may have trouble finding it on the menu in an upscale restaurant, so seek out more budget-friendly rustic diners instead – when the season is right.

Which cuts of meat should I use when making Río de la Plata puchero?

If possible, obtain ossobuco (also sold as osso buco). It is beef shank cut into portions. The shank is a hard-working muscle on the animal, and it wraps around a bone that is rich in marrow. When ossobuco is cooked slowly over a low temperature, the meat will become very tender and the marrow will soften. This adds a lot of richness to the puchero. If you can´t find osso buco, get other beef cuts with marrow.

In addition the main meat, add bacon, pork belly and local chorizo. This is not the same chorizo as the Spanish cured chorizo made with paprika. In Argentina, Paraguya and Uruguay (and in several other parts of Latin America), chorizo is a more generic name for any coarse meat sausage, while Spanish-style chorizo is referred to as chorizo español. The local Argentine chorizo is normally made form pork and is not rich in hot spices.

What else?

Exactly what is put into the puchero will depend on what is available. Examples of typical local produce are:

  • Potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Squash
  • Onions
  • Sweet corn
  • Carrots
  • Cabbage

Some cooks add eggs to their puchero.

How to make it?

  1. Cut the meats into chunks.
  2. Fill a large pot halfway with water and 1 tablespoon of salt.
  3. Bring to a boil. Add the meats and bring to a boil again. Lower the heat and leave the food to simmer under a loose lid for 1 1/2 hour.
  4. Cut the remaining ingredients into chunks and add them to the pot. Add more water if necessary.
  5. Leave to simmer over low heat until the vegetables are tender.
  6. Either serve together, or serve the broth separate from the solids.