Sancocho is a beautiful, deliciously festive dish. This sancocho recipe has been tried and tested at our classes in Spanish and enthusiastically receives the thumbs-up every time we make it. Traditionally it is made with up to 7 different meats and quantities of starchy vegetables, but not here. I hesitate to call it ‘sancocho lite’ but it really is, and although it maybe lighter in calories, it gives up absolutely nothing in taste. Its traditional flavor comes from the herbs and homemade sazon we use. We’ve substituted some of the starchier vegetables for more nutritious veggies like turnips and carrots, and used lean skinless chicken for the meat. If you like, you can add a couple of skinless chicken thighs to the mix to add even more flavor. You won’t need them. Enjoy!
- Cut the chicken into 10 pieces. Set aside in a baking dish.
- Make the marinade: In a small bowl, mix together 6 cloves of the garlic and the bitter orange juice. Pour over the chicken, both pieces and feet. Mix well to coat. Leave to marinate for 30 minutes. Meanwhile in a mortar, mash the remaining 6 cloves of the garlic with the oregano and salt until it forms a paste. Set aside.
- Heat a large skillet over hot-medium heat. Add the chicken and the marinade. Cook until the chicken turns white and opaque. Set aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-low flame. Add onions, ajicitos, and half of the garlic-oregano paste. Sweat the vegetables for 7 minutes or until the onions are transparent and starting to color. Add chicken and 8 leaves of the culantro. Cook for 5 minutes. Add the water and bring to a boil. Cover. Reduce the flame to low and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Add the diced plantain and cook for 10 minutes. Add the yautía, the carrots, and the turnips. Cover and cook for 20 minutes.
- Add the pumpkin and the remaining 4 culantro leaves. Cook for 15 minutes more. It should be just soft enough to mash against the side of the pan.
- For the traditional presentation: Remove half of the vegetables from the sancocho with a slotted spoon and set aside. Discard the culantro leaves.
- Stir the grated green plantain into the soup. Cook for 5 minutes. Return the vegetables to the pot and remove the soup from the stove. Add the apple cider vinegar and remaining garlic paste. Add the homemade ‘sazon’. If necessary, add more to taste. Let the soup sit 15 minutes for the flavors to develop. Taste for salt. Ladle chicken vegetables and broth into soup plates. Serve sprinkled with the chopped cilantro, and avocado slices on the side.
Ann's Tips and Tricks
Ajicito peppers look like pale green habaneros, but are small sweet with little or no heat. You can find them in Dominican and Puerto Rican groceries, but if that’s not an option, a couple of small Italian frying peppers or cubanelle peppers make a great substitute.
Spear shaped culantro or recao leaves are from the same family as cilantro and are great used whole to flavor soups and stews. You can use a whole branches of cilantro instead, I cilantro for 2 culantro leaves, and if the cilantro roots are still attached, keep them on as they have a lot of flavor.
And in the summertime, try adding chunks of fresh corn cob to the soup in step 8.
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