Yeah, Buche' Perico (Pumpkin and Corn Stew) has a weird name and an unusual list of ingredients, but it's a fantastic, comforting soup.
Why we ❤️ it
Buche' Perico (Corn and Pumpkin Stew) is the kind of dish I sometimes like to have to forget about the stresses of life. There are dishes like that.
I had promised you to bring you this recipe a few weeks back in a post I wrote about odd names in Dominican cuisine, so I walked to the supermarket to get the ingredients for it. Luckily it did not contain any odd ones.
This dish earned its place in our list of foods with bizarre names, as it translates into English as "parrot's gut". It hails from the Cibao region, more specifically from the Moca - Seybo region. The name comes from the corn that is the base of the recipe. Parrots (pericos) and other domestic birds are usually fed dry corn.
If you've met Aunt Ilana's husband, Pedro, you probably know that he calls himself "a mocano", despite the fact that he was born in Ciudad Colonial. This was my chance to call his bluff. So, I made a giant pot of this stew and called him to tell him I had some for him.
Not surprisingly he had never heard of this dish. "Not surprisingly", I say, because I don't think that even all "real" mocanos have heard of it.
About this recipe
In its native Moca, this is a dish that is also served as a substitute for beans at lunch, not necessarily as a soup itself, and may contain fewer ingredients, and even no meat. You can try these alternatives.
While doing some research into this dish I found that, like with every Dominican dish, each household has a different recipe. Some people add longaniza (Dominican pork sausages) to it, some add smoked pork chops, some don't use any meat at all. I suggest you go with whatever pleases you most. The one here has the ingredients that my family enjoys best.
This is best made with tender, freshly-cut corn, but I couldn't find those, and probably neither can you, so I adapted the recipe to the corn on the cob commonly found in supermarkets, this is why I added starch to the soup, as fresh corn is starchier than the sweet variety in supermarkets.
The result should be a creamy, rich stew with just the faintest bit of sweetness from both the corn and the auyama, and the smoky flavor from the smoked pork chops.
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[Recipe] Buche' Perico (Corn Stew)
- 3 corn cob
- 3 pound smoked pork chops, [1.36 kg] diced, bones set aside
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, (corn, peanut or soy)
- 1 onion, cut into eighths
- 1 clove mashed garlic
- 1 cup diced tomato
- ½ cup cubanela, (cubanelle) peppers cut into 1" x 1" squares
- 1 small carrot, sliced
- ½ cup celery, stalks cut into slices
- 2 cups auyama (kabocha squash), (West Indian pumpkin) cut into cubes
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch, (see notes)
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, (or parsley)
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt, (or more, to taste)
- ½ teaspoons pepper (freshly-cracked, or ground), (or more, to taste)
- Cut corn: Using a sharp knife cut the corn from the cob, making sure not to go too deep as the corn is very fibrous and tough.
- Boil corn: Boil the corn in 2 qt [2 lt] of water until it is very tender, Maintain the same level of water adding more as necessary. You can shorten the cooking time by doing it in a pressure cooker. It takes about 40 mins in a conventional pot, and about 20 in a pressure cooker. Separate corn and water and set both aside.
- Brown pork chops: Heat the oil over medium heat in a heavy aluminum or cast iron pot. Add the pork chop and brown. Stir in the onion and garlic, cook until the onion starts to become translucent.
- Saute vegetables: Stir in tomatoes and cubanelle peppers and cook and stir for a couple of minutes, careful that it doesn't burn. Add the carrots, celery, and auyama.
- Add liquids: Dissolve the cornstarch in 1 qt [1 lt] of water (the water in which the corn boiled) and pour it into the pot with the meat and vegetables. Add the corn and cilantro, and boil over medium heat until everything is cooked through. Add extra water as it becomes necessary to maintain the same level.
- Boil soup: Scoop out half of the squash, mash and return to the pot. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve: Serve hot with arroz blanco, and avocado on the side. You can also add some agrio de naranja, if you have any.
Tips and Notes
Nutritional information is calculated automatically based on ingredients listed. Please consult your doctor if you need precise nutrition information.
Published Apr 5, 2011, revised