Sancocho (dominican meat and vegetables stew) is without doubt Dominican's most cherished dish. Sancocho is usually made for special occasions, but you can enjoy it any day.
The Dominican sancocho is synonymous with fiesta. In the Dominican Republic, we are spontaneous and happy people who do not need excuses to celebrate. Where there are two or more Dominicans a party can suddenly break out, but sometimes the occasion requires more planning and preparation. It is on that kind of occasion when it is indispensable that someone knows how to make a sancocho.
If it's your turn, our sancocho recipe is here to rescue you.
What is sancocho?
Let's start with the name: It's sancocho, not "salcocho".
Sancocho is a meat and roots-based stew that appears in different forms in several countries of Latin America, especially the countries bordering the Caribbean Sea. There are several Colombian sancochos, I've tried the Panamanian sancocho de gallina. There is a Venezuelan sancocho and a Puerto Rican sancocho. In some parts, they have sancocho with other names: Sancochado, Sopón, Olla de Carne, etc. As a funny note, in Cuba "sancocho" is a derogatory name that describes the food that is given to pigs.
In short, there are sancochos to spare, and each country has its own tastes in this regard.
In the Dominican Republic, there are also different versions of traditional sancocho, these will depend on the taste of each family and of each cook. Some rules, though, seem to be almost universal: never add potatoes, noodles, or tomato sauce.
Sancocho is usually prepared on special occasions since it contains many ingredients and its preparation is long. However, the time it takes to prepare is the time that best passes with friends, while drinking a little rum or a cold beer.
Sancocho de res y pollo
The most common version is beef, followed by beef and chicken or a gallina vieja (an old hen). It is the most economical and simple sancocho, and we also tell you how to make it further down.
Sancocho de siete carnes
Sancocho de Siete Carnes is the deluxe version, and it has 7 types of meat from 4 different animals. It is the most complex and sophisticated Dominican sancocho.
It is also worth mentioning sancocho "prieto" ("prieto" means black in our country). It is so-called because the long cooking at low temperatures gives it a dark brown color, in contrast to the orange-brown color of the "normal" sancocho, which obtains much of its color from the auyama (pumpkin). So, basically, it's normal sancocho cooked over lower heat, for longer.
I love experimenting and adapting our traditional recipes, so we now have a vegan sancocho so meatless aficionados can enjoy an approximation of our tasty stew. We also have a seafood sancocho that I absolutely love! You can also find the traditional sancocho de habichuelas, and a "sancocho" de guandules that I have created with some of our favorite ingredients.
About this recipe
This recipe describes how to make the sancocho de siete carnes, the Dominican deluxe sancocho, but if you want to make a simpler version (the simplest is beef sancocho, followed by beef and chicken sancocho), you can leave out the other meats, just add a proportional amount of extra beef or chicken as you like and add the meats in the order described in the recipe.
The vital vegetables in sancocho are yuca, plantain, and auyama. If you can't find any of the others, don't worry, just add a proportional amount of yuca, plantain, and auyama to the one you are not going to add.
There are approximately 3.5 million recipes for sancocho (the number of Dominican households), so each Dominican cook will have things that they'll love, dislike, or be indifferent about.
Every Dominican cook has his or her own version of this dish, and even the meats vary, so if you have another way to make it, please share with us it in the comments.
[Recipe + Video] Dominican Sancocho (Siete Carnes , or Beef and Chicken Stew)
- 1 lb beef for stews, flank, chuck, or round [0.45 kg] cut into small pieces
- 1 lb goat meat, [0.45 kg] cut into small pieces
- 1 lb pork for stews, belly, or chump end [0.45 kg] cut into small pieces
- Juice of two limes
- 1 tsp cilantro or parsley, chopped
- ½ tsp oregano, powdered
- 1 tsp garlic, crushed
- 1½ tsp salt
- 4 tbsp oil
- 1 lb chicken, [0.45 kg] cut into small pieces
- 1 lb pork ribs, [0.45 kg] cut into small pieces
- 1 lb bones from a smoked ham, [0.45 kg] cut into small pieces
- 1 lb pork sausage, longaniza [0.45 kg] cut into small pieces
- 2 corn cobs, cut into ½-inch slices, optional
- ½ lb West Indian pumpkin , (auyama) cut into 1-inch pieces [0.23 kg]
- 3 unripe plantains, peeled, 2 cut into 1-inch pieces, one left whole
- ½ lb yam, (ñame) cut into 1-inch pieces [0.23 kg]
- ½ lb malanga, (yautia) cut into 1-inch pieces [0.23 kg]
- ½ lb cassava (yuca), cut into 1-inch pieces [0.23 kg]
- Seasoning the meat: Place the beef, pork, and goat meat in a large bowl and season with lime juice, cilantro (or parsley), oregano, garlic, and a teaspoon of salt. Coat meat with the seasoning. Marinate for at least half an hour, better an hour.
- Cooking the meat: In a large pot heat the oil over high heat, add the seasoned meats, and stir (be careful with hot oil splattering). Cook stirring until browned. Add the remaining meats and corn, and cook stirring for a couple of minutes.
- Adding water: Lower heat to medium and pour ½ galon [2.5 lt] of water. Simmer until it breaks the boil.
- Adding vegetables: Once the water breaks the boils, add auyama, chopped plantain, and root vegetables (ñame, yautía, yuca). Grate, or scrape with the knife the remaining plantain to make it into a pulp, add to the pot.
- Cooking vegetables: Simmer covered over low heat until the last ingredients you added are cooked through, it should have thickened a bit too. If it dries too much, add water as necessary, or simmer uncovered to reduce if it is not thick enough for your taste. Season with salt to taste. Remove from the heat.