January 21st, 2008


Recipe for Locro

I was having a discussion the other day with my friend Rich about the lunch his mom had made him, called 'Locro.' He described what his mom made -- a stew of potatoes, squash, chicken, and corn, topped with cheese. It sounded kind of good, so I went looking for recipes.

Turns out Locro is a dish that has been made in the Andes since before the Spanish conquest, and if you start looking for a recipe, there are many variations, and that Bolivians, Venezualans, and Argentinians all have their own version. The only constant is that it uses Potatoes.

So here's my variation, based mostly on Rich's description of his mom's recipe.

1 Large Onion
4-5 good-sized cloves of garlic
3 Potatoes (about fist-sized)
1 Acorn Squash
1 Package frozen sweet corn.
1 25-oz can of chicken stock
Salt and Pepper to taste
Tsp crushed Oregano
3-4 healthy dashes of good hot sauce
Tsp Worchestershire Sauce.

Quarter the Acorn squash, remove seeds, cook in 400f oven for about 30 minutes.
While squash is cooking, dice onions and sautee in soup pot in 1-2 tsps of Olive Oil

Add crushed or minced garlic to onions after onions start to go transparent and cook together for a few minutes.

Add Chicken Stock and diced, peeled potatoes. Bring to a medium boil.

When Squash is soft, remove from oven and allow to cool a few minutes. Remove skin and chop squash into smaller chunks and add to soup pot. Add crushed Oregano, Worchestershire and hot sauce.

Supposedly this is supposed to simmer for as many as 4 hours, but I cooked it at a moderate boil for another half hour, and then used a potato masher to break up cubed squash and potatoes.

Add corn and bring back to a simmer. Allow to simmer, stirring frequently, for another 15 minutes to as long as you want.

Serve with grated cheese.

This tasted amazing to me. I have to be in the right mood for squash by itself, as it has a pronounced flavor and texture. The combination of the squash and potatoes seems to turn into a 'third flavor' that's neither as bland as potatoes tend to be, or strongly 'squashy.' It seems to be a nice balance between the two.

As for the Worchestershire sauce, it's not very Andean an ingredient. I added it because it was tasting too bland, and Worchestershire in moderation added what I imagined I was missing -- a little bit of sourness and slightly bitter bite. If you have a better suggestion I'd love to hear it, because Worchestershire is a bit of a crutch for me when making soup.

I liked this a lot just as I've described above, but there are endless variations that can be made. If you eat bacon, you could fry bacon and then use the drippings to sautee the onions and garlic before adding stock. You could go strictly vegan by using a vegetable stock, and adding soy sauce or whatever to keep it from tasting too bland.

There are recipes that call for Chorizo, or the south american version of fatback, or chicken. You can use milk to replace some or all of the stock, pushing it from a stew to a chowder. You could make it spicy by adding chiles, or more colorful by adding chopped red peppers. You could use peas instead of or in addition to corn. Mild green chiles would be an nice addition.

But as near as I can tell, someone somewhere would still call it Locro.