Sancocho in the Dominican Republic is synonymous with party.
Dominicans are spontaneous and happy people who do not need much of an excuse to party. Where there are two or more Dominicans, a party may break out at any moment; some occasions, however, call for more lavish and elaborate celebrations.
A baptism is an occasion for family and close friends to meet and celebrate with the parents the joy of the arrival of their new child. The religious celebration is followed by a brunch, attended by the closest friends and family members.
Typically some picaderas (hors d’oeuvre) are served.
The next big occasion will come when a girl celebrates her 15th birthday. Her friends, dressed in beautiful gowns, will attend the celebration of the girl’s symbolical passage into adulthood. Picaderas, soft drinks for the teenagers and beer and cocktails for the grown-ups will be served. Sometime in the night there will be a buffet comprised mostly of typical Dominican dishes.
The night ends with a piece of the monumental cake that has been the center of attention all night long.
Nothing, however, will top the regal exuberance of a Dominican wedding. On this occasion, to which guests will wear their best clothes, the bride will outshine them all. Dressed like a princess from a fairy tale, she will be the center of attention, her only competition being the biggest, fanciest cake the madrina could afford. There will be picaderas, drinks and a buffet, and the party will probably end in the early hours of the next morning. It is not rare to see the bride and groom leave when the party has ended. Dominicans would not let their wedding night get in the way of a good party.
But heck, we don’t need an excuse! It need not be somebody’s birthday, baptism or wedding, all we need is a sancocho, or asopao, some frías, Merengue and we’ll call it a party.
Sancocho is, without doubt, the Dominican people’s most cherished culinary treasure. It is a dish that is usually prepared for special occasions. Its preparation is long and it contains many ingredients. However, the time it takes to prepare is the time best enjoyed with friends, while drinking a little rum or a cold beer.
The traditional sancocho is made with beef only (usually flank, or similarly inexpensive cut), however the Sancocho de Siete Carnes (seven-meat Stew) is the deluxe version. You can skip the other meats if you want.
Sancocho is the star of the Dominican foods, a stew that is the ultimate Dominican comfort food. Learn how to make it with this recipe.
- 1 lb [0.45 kg] beef for stews (flank, chuck or round)
- 1 lb [0.45 kg] of goat meat
- 1 lb [0.45 kg] of pork sausage (longaniza)
- 1 lb [0.45 kg] of pork for stews (belly or chump end)
- 1 lb [0.45 kg] of chicken
- 1 lb [0.45 kg] of pork ribs
- 1 lb [0.45 kg] of bones from a smoked ham
- Juice of two limes
- 1 teaspoon of chopped coriander/cilantro or parsley
- ½ teaspoon of powdered oregano
- 1 tablespoon of mashed garlic
- 1½ teaspoons of salt
- 4 tablespoons of oil (corn, peanut or canola)
- 2.5 quart [2.5 lt] of water
- ½ lb [0.23 kg] of yam (ñame) cut into 1-inch pieces
- ½ lb [0.23 kg] of auyama (West Indies pumpkin) cut into 1-inch pieces
- ½ lb [0.23 kg] of taro (yautia) cut into 1-inch pieces
- 3 unripe plantains, 2 cut into 1-inch pieces
- ½ lb [0.23 kg] of cassava cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 corn cobs cut into ½-inch slices (optional)
- Cut all the meat into small pieces.
- Coat the meat with the lime juice (except the pork sausage).
- Place all the meat in a large bowl and add the coriander, oregano, garlic, and half a teaspoon of salt. Rub meat to cover with the spices. Marinate for at least half an hour.
- In a large pot heat the oil over medium heat, add the beef and stir (be careful with hot oil splattering). Cover and and simmer for 10 minutes. Add a few tablespoons of water if it looks like it might burn.
- Add the pork and simmer for 15 minutes, adjust water when necessary. Add the rest of the meat to the pot (except for the chicken) and simmer for another 15 minutes, adding tablespoons of water as needed to prevent it from burning.
- Add the remaining meat and simmer for another 5 minutes, adding tablespoons of water as needed to prevent it from burning.
- Add 2 quarts of water to the pot and bring to a boil. Add the ñame, auyama, yautía and the two plantains that you had previously cut. Simmer covered for 15 minutes.
- Grate, or scrape with the knife the remaining plantain to make it into a pulp, add to the pot. Add all remaining ingredients (minus the salt) and add water as it becomes necessary to maintain the same level. Stir regularly to avoid excessive sticking.
- Simmer until the last ingredients you added are cooked through.
- Season with salt to taste. Serve hot with white rice, slices of avocado and garnish with hot sauce or agrio de naranja