Chances are, if you have visited Argentina, you’ve tasted the dish known as Locro. But what exactly is it?
Well, it’s a hot and hearty white corn based soup that Argentines celebrate as a national dish. It’s delicious and perfect for cold weather as the temperatures start to drop. The soup is also unique because it carries on the legacy of ancient Incan dining concepts, which is interesting considering the fact that much of Argentine cuisine draws inspiration from European cultures.
The thick, chowder-like stew originated along the Andes mountain range (where it is still widely enjoyed today) at a time when the Incan empire thrived in Peru, Bolivia, and northern Argentina.
As with many popular dishes with traditions that spill over international borders and date back centuries, countless varieties exist. Every region seems to hail their own version as the unrivaled best. Needless to say, the dish is much more than a simple soup – it’s a source of passion and fiery pride in Argentina.
The rules of making Locro are extremely flexible, offering an endless combination of creative possibilities. Most agree that the first step involves cooking hominy for hours until it becomes tender. Along with the cooked hominy, meat is usually included (which can be beef – often on the bone), tripe or chorizo. Then, toss in a ton of different vegetables such as potatoes, squash, yams and pumpkin.
All these ingredients are carefully mashed together to give the soup its dense texture. Many recipes also call for beans. The stew may feature garnishing in the form of green onions, ground cumin, black pepper or paprika. Some regions also serve a spicy sauce on the side known as quiquirimichi. The main rule here is to serve the soup piping hot in a bowl and it’s traditionally accompanied by bread.
Here’s a quick and easy locro recipe below for you to try at home, but remember, feel free to tweak based on whatever has you feeling inspired!
- YIELD: Serves 12 people
- ACTIVE TIME: 30 minutes
- TOTAL COOKING TIME: 4 3/4 hours
- 1 1/2 pounds lean pork ribs, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 pound pancetta (Italian unsmoked cured bacon), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 pound flank steak, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 pound beef short ribs, cut between bones
- 3 sweet Italian sausage links, cut into 1 1/2-inch lengths
- 2 Spanish chorizo (spicy dried pork sausage) links, cut into 1 1/2-inch lengths
- 3 quarts water
- 6 carrots, cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
- 1 1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
- 1 large boiling potato, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
- 2 red bell peppers, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 3 (15-ounce) cans white hominy, rinsed
- 2 (16- to 19-ounces) cans white beans, rinsed
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon black pepper
- Stir together meats and water in a 12-quart heavy pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, 3 1/2 hours.
- Add vegetables and paprika, then simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.
- Add hominy, beans, salt, and pepper and simmer, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes.