I am back at sharing pictures from my most recent trip to the Dominican Republic. If you have not been following along, there is still time. Check out my initial post here, plus don’t miss the following posts here, here, and here. I even posted about my quick stop by Haiti as I was in the neighboring country here. My goal is to tell you about my adventures, while sharing a delicious recipe. And today’s recipe is: Sancocho. In the bottom of this post I include several sancocho recipes but make sure you read it all to get my tips on how to make sancocho in around one hour or so. Yup, it is possible.
On the picture below you can see me riding a horse. Oh, to be there right now, that would be a dream. As much as I like city living, I am a small-town/country-side-at-heart-kind-of-girl. I enjoy simple living and most of all having a connection with nature. My family has various homes “en el campo” / on the country side, because we all enjoy getting disconnected from the city chaos and spending a day or weekend breathing clean, fresh air. Riding horses is one of my favorite past times while en el campo, and riding along the river stream is my favorite way. I like to take time to ride slow, listen to the very unique sounds of the mountains, and the sound of the horse galloping on the rocks and splashing water.
These pictures were taken during a pasadia. Pasadia, is a term Dominicans use to refer to a day long get together that does not have specific start and end times. It literally means “spend a day” and the idea is to share, eat, joke, play around, talk and spend a whole day together. People come and go at different times because usually a lot of people are invited and there is not set structure for this type of party. Let’s get together! That’s the idea, plain and simple. Dominicans take any opportunity to relax, party and enjoy.
At a pasadia lots of food is served and to make it less complicated many opt for a big pot of sancocho. It all goes in one pot and everyone loves Sancocho.
For Dominicans, Sancocho is like the heart and soul of Dominican cooking. Yes, we may eat La Bandera (get recipe here) almost every day but when we think of Dominican comfort food, even celebratory food, we immediately think of Sancocho.
The sancocho pictures you are about to see were taken by me during a pasadia on a very rustic kitchen. Before modern days, most of the Dominican Republic cooked in fogones / fire pits like the one pictured below. Still many Dominicans in the country side cook this way. This fogon is inside a little hut that is part of, believe it or not, an amazing and beautiful vacationing country home full of all the luxuries and commodities of modern days but owned by a Dominican that enjoys tradition and the taste of old fashion fire cooking. Isn’t that awesome? To me, it speaks volume when someone wants to hold to tradition and pass it along to future generations.
Is sancocho new to you? Well here is a quick intro: the Dominican sancocho is a meat and vegetable stew. The broth is rich and full of deep earthy flavors that form from boiling (sancochar) aromatics like cilantro ancho (culantro), vegetables and a variety of meats.
Interested in making sancocho? Follow my tips below to make in one hour or so.
TIP 1 – Start by cooking the meat first
By cooking your seasoned meat first (use this seasoning for true Dominican flavor) you will save time as you can then peel your veggies or work on other steps while the meat cooks and gets tender. This is the part that may need more time, so start there.
TIP 2 – Use boiling water and season the water to boil your veggies
Instead of just boiling the veggies and having to work on extra seasoning, just add some of this same seasoning to the boiling water to obtain a flavorful broth. Make sure you start by boiling the water, as the water gets to a boiling point you can then peel your veggies and save time. Using boiling water rather than just dropping your veggies in cold water, will expedite the process.
Note: If using boiling water, veggies should not take longer than 20 minutes to cook. After 20 minutes have passed, try the broth and season it with salt to taste.
Next step: Add the meat to the veggies so it finishes cooking in the broth. Cover the pot and let it cook for another 20 minutes
TIP 3 – Add Auyama puree to thicken the broth and speed up the process
To obtain a thick broth, the key ingredient is the auyama or chayote squash. This type of squash is dry, so it does not get too mushy or full of liquid when boiled. Puree some of the cooked squash and add the cream of squash to the sancocho for a colorful and thicker broth. After this you should be all done. Just try to make sure all the flavors are on point.
Serve it along white rice, con con (more on con con on a later post) and avocados.
The result is a vibrant stew that will lift your spirits and get you warm inside no matter how hot or cold the weather may be. This is one of those dishes that will make you feel right at home, no matter where home may be.
LETS CHAT: have you tried sancocho before? Or have you tried a similar dish? How is it called?