what are the origins of the typical Argentine dish and the secrets of cooking it

(CNN Spanish) — One of the most common rites of Argentine national holidays is the cooking of locro, an ideal dish for the southern winter. Being slow cooked, it’s the perfect excuse to share some time with loved ones.

What are the origins of locro?

Locro is a stew that the Quechuas ate from the Inca empire. The word “locro” is also native. Therefore, it is a typical dish of Latin American countries such as Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Chile and Argentina. While it has some classic ingredients, like corn and white beans, because it comes from different places, it’s common to find different versions. Each country has added to the food the food it had thanks to its own production.

In the case of Argentina, in pre-colonial times it was a characteristic dish of the northern region, of provinces such as Jujuy, Salta and Tucumán, but over time this custom spread throughout the territory. Historian Daniel Balmaceda assures us that “it’s not that locro was not eaten in Buenos Aires, but there the preparations were different”.

In those areas it was very common to cook stewed meals in saucepans, not having the resources to cook other things. This cooking method “allowed the food to always be prepared and ready to serve at different times,” explains Balmaceda.

Also, it was very helpful to properly soften the ingredients so that they were easy to chew. This was very important as, over time, the residents’ dentures began to weaken.

In the first half of the 19th century it was a common meal that was part of a menu in stages. Both the soups and the locro formed the first courses of a menu, which also included white and red meats. Over the decades and with the advance of the migratory wave towards Argentina, the locro gradually lost its everyday character.

Although it is an ideal meal for the southern winter, it is currently eaten mainly on the country’s national holidays and is considered a preparation to be shared among several people, be they family or friends.

How do you cook locro?

There are hundreds of versions of how to make locro, as many times the recipe comes from previous family generations.

Furthermore, over time, it has adapted to new tastes and trends. For example, there are families who cook a vegetarian or vegan version of locro. In turn, it is common to replace the classic vegetables or meats with different ones.

Union members in Argentina prepare a locro in Buenos Aires, May 29, 2019. (Credit: JUAN MABROMATA/AFP via Getty Images)

The preparation of the typical dish is simple, but it has many ingredients, so it is ideal to have them ready to incorporate. It is also a meal that requires at least two hours to cook.

Ingredients (for about 6-8 servings):

  • 250 g. of white beans
  • 250 g. white cracked corn
  • 1 red chorizo ​​(optional)
  • pig skin
  • pork brisket
  • 2 pig’s feet
  • Skirt
  • Tripe
  • Beef broth
  • 200 g. Bacon
  • 3 onions
  • 2 green onions
  • 1 leek
  • 1/2 squash
  • 1/2 red pepper
  • Condiments: salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, ground chilli, oregano

Both beans and corn should be soaked, ideally 12 hours. They should also be cooked slightly, but not completely, so they don’t delay the cooking of the rest of the ingredients and they don’t turn out too old.

The procedure to follow is simple. First you have to brown the onion and then do the same with the skin, the breast, the thighs, the skirt and the mondongo, all previously cut into small pieces.

Once browned, add the beans and corn along with the leek, squash and carrot and seasonings to taste. It is recommended to grate the pumpkin and carrot well.

After it cooks for a few minutes, add the beef stock until all the ingredients in the pot are covered. If, over time, there is very little broth left, it is advisable to add it.

It should be left to cook for about two hours. In case of the inclusion of red chorizo ​​​​it is incorporated 30 minutes before the estimated time is respected.

In the meantime, the sauce is being prepared, for which the bell pepper and green onion are chopped. Then you have to saute those ingredients with olive oil, paprika, oregano, ground red pepper and salt.

Finally, all that remains is to serve the locro on plates and accompany it with the sauce. Bread on the table is another great ally of this typical food.

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