It’s hot and humid summer here in Buenos Aires, but I am finally getting around to writing about locro, a long-simmering, winter stew. This savory, meaty stew is thick and satisfying anytime, but it’s especially welcome on a cold winter evening – load up your stock pot when the next polar vortex comes around, and you won’t even care about the Arctic encroachment. Especially if you pair it with a nice Malbec.
Locro is one of those things like chili in the US that everyone does it a little bit differently. Additionally, like barbecue in the US, the definition of locro varies widely depending on where you are, as it is a dish commonly found in many countries around Argentina – Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia. The recipe that I cobbled together below is a good representation of what is commonly included around where I am.
It is important to note that locro is “slow food” – the kind a gaucho would leave simmering all day, not the kind that will be ready in 20 minutes. It also includes two elements that require prep in advance. If you include the hominy, it needs to be soaked for at least 8 hours ahead of time. My locro is served with garlic chili oil, which I write about in a separate post – this needs to infuse for several hours ahead of time (overnight is even better). You can always serve it without the oil, but it’s so easy, you should just make it 🙂
Makes 7-8 hungry person servings
350 grams (3/4 pound) pancetta or slab bacon, in bite-size cubes
1 large onion, chopped
2 fresh, hot sausages, casings removed or 1 andouille, in bite-size piece slices
2 slabs of osso bucco or similar boney cut
1 small butternut squash, peeled and diced in bite-size pieces
2 cups corn (canned or frozen is fine)
1 ½ cups soaked hominy* – save soaking water
1 cup garbanzos
1 can white/navy beans
3 cloves garlic, sliced
2 bay leaves
1 ½ teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
salt & pepper to taste
Garnishes: green onions and garlic chili oil
1) In a large pot over medium heat, start cooking your pancetta/bacon. Once some of the fat has rendered from the pancetta, about 3 minutes, add your onion. After another 3-4 minutes, add sausages and break up the meat while browning (not necessary to cook all the way through). After about 5 minutes, remove pancetta, sausage, and onion to a bowl and set aside.
2) There should be a good amount of pork fat left in the bottom of the pot, but if there is not, add a tablespoon of oil and turn the heat up to medium high. Place one slab of osso bucco in the pot and sear for 1 minute. Flip to repeat. Remove the slab to the bowl with the other meat and sear remaining slab on both sides.
3) Turn the heat down to low while you add your other ingredients – there are a lot, so it takes a minute! In no particular order – onion, sausage, pancetta, remaining osso bucco, squash, corn, hominy, garbanzos, navy beans, and garlic.
4) Add your soaking water from the hominy until everything in the pot is covered by at least half an inch. Use tap water to supplement if you don’t have enough.
5) Add bay leaves and spices and give everything a good stir.
6) Turn fire up to high until boiling, and return to low. Simmer at least 2 ½ hours (up to 6 hours), stirring occasionally to make sure beans do not burn on the bottom of the pot.
7) When you are almost ready to serve, use tongs or a spoon to remove osso bucco bones and meat. Break meat into pieces and return to the pot.
8) Serve hot topped with green onions and drizzled chili oil. Enjoy!
*I had a hard time finding hominy until it came into season here (and then suddenly, it was everywhere!). If you cannot find hominy, I suggest adding another can of navy beans.
I am inclined to think that the long simmer part of this stew could be done easily in a slow cooker while the chef is at work, but not having my Crock Pot here in Argentina, I can’t test my theory. If someone does, let me know how it goes!