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Sancocho is the archetypical stew in Puerto Rican and, by extension, Nuyorican Cuisine. Even more so than Asopao. The only thing similar in continental cuisine would be the French dish called, Cassoulet, in which beans, pork, lamb and garlic sausages are all mixed together in a casserole. Sancocho follows along the same line, but without the beans. Instead, we have an assortment of vegetables which are added to the broth. These include Root Plants like: Yuca (yoo-kah), also known Cassava; Yautia (ya-o-teeah), also known as Dasheen; and Name (nyah-meh), a starchy root akin to Yams. Like many Caribbean words, Sancocho does not have any definitive translation. In Puerto Rican slang, sancochar means to boil or stew. Suffice to say, that it is a platter rich in pork, chicken and what have you. Making a Sancocho is not a quick effort. It takes time and infinite patience to cook. The result is an ultimately superior meal in itself.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup olive oil

1 medium green bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped

1 medium onion, peeled and coarsely chopped

2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

3 aji dulce (sweet chill pepper), seeded and chopped

6 fresh culantro leaves, washed and chopped

1 pound boneless chuck beef, trimmed of fat and cut into 1-inch chunks

1 pound pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch chunks

1 medium stewing chicken (about 2 1/2 pounds), washed and cut into serving pieces

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

I teaspoon dried oregano

2 ears fresh corn, shucked and quartered

1/2 pound yuca, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

1/2 pound yautia, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

1/2 pound name, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

2 medium yams, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

1/2 pound pumpkin, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

3 green plantains, peeled and quartered

1/2 cup tomato sauce

1 teaspoon salt

Italian Bread

Instructions:

1. Heat oil in a large kettle and add bell pepper, onion, garlic, aji dulce and culantro. Saute over moderate heat until tender (4-5 minutes).

2. Add beef, pork, chicken, pepper, oregano and culantro. Cook until meat is browned (8-10 minutes).

3. With a slotted spoon, remove chicken pieces from pot and set aside.

4. Add corn, yuca, yautia, name, yams, pumpkin and plantains to meat.

S. Add water to cover contents in pot, also add tomato sauce and salt. Bring to a boil. Cover, lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

6. Add chicken and continue to cook on low heat until meat is tender (about 2-2 1/2 hours).

7. Uncover and remove plantains. Place in a bowl and mash with a potato masher. Let cool for a few minutes. Form into small balls with palms of hand. Return to kettle and boil for 1-2 minutes.

8. Serve with Italian bread.

Yield: 12 servings.

Recipe from Oswald Rivera’s, Puerto Rican Cuisine in America: Nuyorican and Bodega Recipes

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