Time for another bowl of our Latin favorite… Sancocho!! Puerto Rican style!!! This Caribbean beef and root vegetable stew is brimming with flavors. That’s because its been simmering for a couple of hours in amazing Latin flavor bombs.
Make this hearty, delicious one pot stew, where melt in your mouth meat pairs well with tons of unique veggies. Ladle the warm stew over steaming rice with a few plantains, and you are all set for one chilly winter night coming your way.
Embrace it with the largest bowl you can find for this Sancocho…
If you ask any native from Caribbean island countries, what is their happy place? More than once they will say a family all around the table with some cracking simmering bowl of meat stew that’s been cooking all day.
The stew has lots of different versions, with whatever meat available, and whatever personal choices for veggies go in the pot, along with some great local seasonings and flavor benders.
But the whole idea is almost the same. The same melt in your mouth tender meat that is absolutely delicious with tons of veggies in every single bite.
We have featured some amazing soups and stews from Latin countries already. Carne Guisada from Puerto Rico, Dominican Pollo Guisado, and Caldo de Res and Albondigas Soup from Mexico are some of the huge, popular recipes here on GypsyPlate.
Sancocho is just another such thing! One more Latin flavor Bomb in our kitchen…
What is Sancocho?
The word “Sancocho” comes from the Spanish verb “Sancochar”, meaning parboil. Sancocho is a traditional and very classic stew famous in many Latin American countries like Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Columbia, Cuba, Venezuela and many more.
It’s believed that Sancocho has some African roots, and was brought by Spanish settlers from the Canary islands to Latin America, where it was adapted by locals with whatever ingredients were available.
Every country, of course, has their own version of stew with different meats and veggies and seasonings. Though at its base, Sancocho is a hearty meat stew (sometimes with a mix of different meats like pork, ham, and chicken along with beef) with loads of tropical starches, squash and veggies like plantain and corn.
All get cooked for hours to tender meaty and veggie perfection in a seasoned broth. The starches in Sancocho naturally thicken the stew as it cooks, making it rich, velvety and deliciously hearty.
Though Sancocho is mostly cooked for special occasions and holidays, it’s so beloved and popular that it often finds its way to regular weekend family get togethers.
Puerto Rican Sancocho has the distinctive addition of sofrito as a cooking base for the stew, and the presence of plantain and corn, along with other tubers.
Puerto Rican Sancocho Ingredients
- Beef – Today we are making beef Sancocho, and are using thick cut, marbled chuck roast for this Caribbean stew, as this is the best cut for any stew. The chuck roast, when cooked for a long time, results in melt in your mouth tender bites. You can add pork, chicken, sausage or ham to this stew pot, too.
- For Beef Marination – Sofrito, sazon (culantro y achiote), oregano, black pepper, adobo, white vinegar, olive oil.
- Veggies & Starches – Onion, carrots, potatoes, butternut squash, corn, plantain, yucca.
- Sofrito – We have a whole post how to make your own sofrito. Simply click here. For a quick sofrito, blend 1 green bell pepper, 1 cubanelle pepper (optional), 1 small onion, 5-6 garlic cloves, 1 cup of cilantro, 4-5 leaves of culantro (optional) in a blender.
- Flavor enhancers – Garlic, adobo, oregano, beef broth.
- Tomato Sauce
How to Make Sancocho
1. Season the meat: Season the beef with all the marinade ingredients and marinade for at 2 hours, or while you prep the rest of ingredients.
2. Sear the meat: Heat 2-3 Tbsp oil in a large dutch oven or stew pot and sear the beef until brown all over. Work in batches, not overcrowding the pan. Plate the beef chunks out.
3. Make the base for the stew: In the same pan, add remaining oil (if needed) and add diced onion, sauté for 5 minutes. Add in garlic along with sofrito and sauté for 3-4 minutes. Add in tomato sauce, oregano, adobo and browned beef chunks. Mix well.
4. Simmer the stew: Add in beef broth and bring it to boil. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Add in carrots and keep on simmering, covered, for an hour or more, until the meat is tender. Stir occasionally.
5. Add veggies: Add in potatoes, butternut squash, corn, green plantain, yucca and cook till all the vegetables are cooked tender to your preference (about 20-30 minutes). If the stew is getting thicker thank you like, you can add more water (we ended up adding an additional cup of water). Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more adobo and black pepper if desired.
Tips for the BEST Sancocho
1. Making homemade Sofrito: Sofrito is a cooking base used in a variety of Puerto Rican dishes like Arroz con Gandules, their famous rice and pigeon peas, bean dishes like Habichuelas Guisadas, and the rest of their stews and soups.
This herbatious base is made by blending green bell pepper, sweet peppers, onion, garlic, cilantro and culantro (an herb with a similar taste and aroma to cilantro).
You can buy jarred sofrito in the Latin aisle of your grocery store, or online. But there is nothing like fresh, vibrant homemade sofrito. Please go through our detailed post for Sofrito, and keep it ready in your freezer. You will be amazed how much of a flavor bomb it is.
2. Types of starches and vegetables: Typical starches and squashes that goes in this Latin Stew can easily be found in Latin or Asian grocery stores. You can make a great tasting Sancocho with whatever you lay your hands on. Don’t hold off to make this recipe if you miss one or two ingredients. You can always use the substitutes we will mention down below.
3. Thickness of the stew: Cook the starchy veggies longer if you want a thicker and mushier stew. But if you want a firmer texture, cook them until they are just fork-tender.
4. Vegetable timing: As the vegetables cook, keep an eye on the pot. Some vegetables cook faster than others and you might need to remove them from the pot until the other vegetables cook, so that they don’t break down and disintegrate into your stew. You can then add them back in when the Sancocho is closer to being done.
5. Meats: If using a combination of meats, keep in mind that different meats cook at different times, and you might need to remove some from the pot as each becomes tender. Towards the end, you can mix all the cooked meats back into the stew.
- Use the same recipe for different meats. You can make just chicken or beef or pork stew. Or, as its mentioned above, it’s very common to use 2-3 meats together in this hearty stew.
- Give it some more heat by adding a scotch bonnet pepper.
- Use other veggies and starches like kabocha squash, sweet potatoes, yautia, yam, cabbage, green beans or zucchini.
What to Serve Puerto Rican Sancocho with
Sancocho is traditionally served on a bed of steaming white rice. A few slices of avocado and their beloved Tostones or maduros complete this Latin feast. Some people like to add extra heat with a drizzling of some hot sauce.
We can see this is great stew with some kind of fresh bread too, like our No Knead Bread.
Leftovers and Storing
Make a big batch and enjoy Sancocho for a few days, as it keeps on getting better. Store it in an air tight container up to 3-4 days in the refrigerator.
This freezes beautifully too, up to 3-4 months. Simply thaw and reheat it on the stovetop, adding a dash of water or beef stock if necessary.
This Caribbean meat and vegetable stew is perfect for any time of the year, so don’t limit it just to chilly winter nights. Remember, it comes from tropics. So even on some hot sunny day, it’s equally rewarding to dig into a big bowl of Sancocho, brimming with all different kinds of veggies and fork tender meat.
Give this amazing Caribbean recipe a chance in your kitchen, and find new flavors in your stew pot. Make Sancocho, and find out what it is that all those islanders swoon about…
A pot like that will always live up to expectations… A BOWL FULL OF AMAZING NEW FLAVORS!
Puerto Rican Sancocho, on our Gypsy Plate… enjoy!
- 3 pounds chuck roast, cut into bite sized chunks
- 1/4 cup sofrito (see note 1)
- 1 packet sazon (culantro y achiote)
- 3 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 Tbsp adobo
- 2 Tbsp white vinegar
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 4-5 Tbsp olive oil, divided
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 4-5 garlic cloves, chopped
- 5 Tbsp sofrito
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- 1.5 tsp oregano
- 1/2 tsp adobo
- 6 cups beef broth
- 2-3 carrots, cut into big chunks
- 3-4 small potatoes, cut into big chunks
- 1/2 butternut squash, peeled and cut into big chunks
- 3 ears corn, cut into big chunks
- 1 big green plantain, peeled and cut into big chunks
- 1 small yucca, peeled and cut inti big chunks
- Season the beef with all the marinade ingredients and marinade for at 2 hours, or while you prep the rest of ingredients.
- Heat 2-3 Tbsp oil in large dutch oven or stew pot, and sear the beef until brown all over. Work in batches, not overcrowding the pan. Remove to a plate.
- In the same pan, add remaining oil if needed and add diced onion. Sauté for 5 minutes. Add in garlic and sofrito, and sauté for 3-4 minutes. Add in tomato sauce, oregano, adobo and browned beef chunks. Mix well.
- Add in beef broth and bring it to boil. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Add in carrots and keep on simmering, covered, for an hour or more, until the meat is tender. Stir occasionally.
- Add in potatoes, butternut squash, corn, plantain, yucca and cook till all the vegetables are cooked tender to your preference, about 20-30 minutes.
- If the stew is getting too thick, you can add in more water (we adding a cup of additional water). Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more adobo and black pepper, if desired.
- Serve along with rice and tostones.
- For a quick sofrito, blend 1 green bell pepper, 1 cubanelle, pepper (optional), 1 small onion, 5-6 garlic cloves, 1 cup of cilantro, 4-5 leaves culantro (optional) in a blender.
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