It is said of a person who has been under the sweltering sun that he is sancocho – blistering hot or “stewing.” This Puerto Rican stew best illustrates the one-step cooking method, a typical food preparation that has prevailed for five hundred years in Puerto Rican homes, primarily because it allows the latitude for batch cooking a nutritious meal in a single pot.
The barbacoa technique employed by the Tainos has evolved more sophisticated and complex cooking technology, but the spirit and the legacy of the barbacoa are constant as we struggle against the drudgery of the modern work day and subsequent meal preparation. When you come home, why not spend 15 minutes of preparation and 45 minutes of “R and R?” The pot over the heat does the cooking you end up with a delicious beefy stew.
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 garlic cloves, minced
1-1/2 pounds top round beef, cubed into 1-1/2-inch pieces
1/3 cup chopped yellow onions
1/3 cup chopped green pepper
1/3 cup chopped celery
1 teaspoon minced fresh gingerroot
1 chili pepper; seeded and minced
5 sprigs of cilantro, chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon pulverized rock salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/3 cup burgundy wine
4 medium tomatoes, cored and chopped
4 quarts beef stock
2 green bananas, peeled and slice into 1-inch pieces
1 yellow plantain, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium sweet potato (1/2 pound), diced into 1-inch pieces
1/2 pound butternut squash, peeled and cubed into 1-inch pieces
3 medium new potatoes, scrubbed clean and quartered
1 large chayote, peeled, cored, and diced into 1-inch pieces
2 ears of white corn, cleaned and sliced into 6 parts each
In a preheated kettle 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. Fold in chopped pepper, celery, gingerroot, chili pepper, cilantro, cumin, salt, white pepper, burgundy wine, tomatoes, and 1 quart of beef stock. Cook down until stock is reduced by half.
Stir beef, then fold in all the remaining vegetables and beef stock. Continue to cook until meat is tender and the vegetables soft.
Since this soup contains beef and vegetables, it is hearty already. Serve alongside a fresh bread and use the bread to soak up some of this delicious flavor.