Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Locro

This is a typical Argentine dish that has variations all over the country. Locro is a particularly typical dish in the north west. The name is thought to derive from the quechua indian word "loqru" or "ruqru" which means "pot" although it refers particularly to a dish with a base of dried corn, beans and pumpkin. It has been declared a national dish and is seen at most cultural events although it has it´s origins in the north west. It is not uncommon to see it cooked in massive crowd sized portions with pots big enough to fit a small child.


After the arrival of the conquistadors the new ingredients of beef, pork and panceta were added. In places the corn is replaced with wheat. In the Missiones region fish is added; while in Salta it usually contains pieces of pork or lamb, tripe, panceta and salted dried bony meat. In less abundant times guaschalocro (orphan locro) is made with fresh corn and smaller quantities of whatever meat is available (especially dried meat). I actually really like this version as it's a little less rich. But both are good especially on a cold day.

The key to a creamy locro is the inclusion of the water used to soak the dried corn in the dish as it contains the dissolved corn starch.
The stew is garnished and spiced by quiquirimichi which is melted fat or oil flavoured with paprika, dried chilli and spring onions (shallots).

Locro Color Maïs
(lucky for us Sol doesn't like tripe either)
Recipe for 9 people

Ingredients
250g Dry white corn
250g white dried beans
125g Panceta
375g Queperi - divided fland steak
375g Alita - strip ribs around 4cm wide with meat attached
125g chorizo
65g salted bones
1.25 kilos pumpkin (unpeeled)
2.5 litres water
1 small onion (finely diced)
1/2 red capsicum (finely diced)

Method
All ingredients should be cut into pieces that can be picked up with a spoon. This is a stew that shouldn´t need a knife or fork to be eaten.
Wash the beans and corn. Place water in pan for cooking the locro and soak corn for 10 hours. Soak beans in another container.
To the soaked corn add the salted bones and panceta and boil. After 2 hours add onion and capsicum and the meat cut into cubes.
In another pan boil the beans until cooked.
When the meat and corn is cooked add the pumpkin that has been peeled and cut into cubes. Once the pumpkin is added the pot needs to be continually stirred to stop the pumpkin from catching. Finally add the beans and chorizo and remove from heat. Let the pot stand covered for 15 minutes before serving.
For the quiquirimchi heat lard and add one spoon each of paprika and salt. At the last minute add finely chopped green part of spring onions. Top portions of locro with this oil for colour and flavour.

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