Sancocho is the King of Dominican dishes. Ask anyone what they consider THE dish of the Dominican Republic and a few dishes come to mind. Of course you have Mangu, Habichuelas, Chimis, and Pollo Guisado. But no list is complete without Sancocho! It’s the definition of Dominican culture all in one plate. And like many traditional dishes, there’s more than one way of making this dish. In fact, this dish varies from region to region. I love watching family debate on what makes a “true Sancocho.”
Traditionally, Sancocho is a soup made up of seven different meats… yes, you heard that correctly, SEVEN meats! However, very rarely will someone make it with seven different meats. There’s also huge debates on what those seven different meats are. Sancocho, for me must have smoked pork chops! I love that subtle smokey undertone. It truly rounds out the dish. My grandmother NEVER made Sancocho or Asopao de Pollo without smoked pork chops, and neither do I. However, my Mother-In-Law (who by the way is a FANTASTIC cook), HATES smoked anything in her soups and stew. **Cue my fiance and I having our debates on what a true Sancocho is** As you can see, Sancocho varies in very close quarters.
When making Sancocho, do not be intimidated. It’s really easy to tackle many different traditional Dominican dishes and abandon this one because it’s daunting. However, it’s only daunting because you understand the magnitude of this dish and what it means to you and your family. The minute you understand that you can freestyle this dish however you like, you’ll be in good hands! For example, my aunt is from the capital– Santo Domingo, and insists that Sancocho must have Longaniza and Oxtails. My other aunt who is from the Cibao region, strongly believes that Sancocho with corn is not Sancocho it’s, Sopa de Pollo. Recently, I’ve noticed that many Dominican cooks are adding plantain dumplings. And lastly, my God Mother doesn’t eat so bye-bye smoked pork chops in the Sancocho.
All in all, create a Sancocho that’s true to you, your family, and the flavors that you enjoy. Sancocho tells the story of a nation, culture, but more importantly– family. I created my Sancocho recipe to mimic the flavors that I love. I created a recipe that invokes the memory of my Grandmother. However, I added my own spin to it. Sancocho is also known for its viveres aka root vegetables. It’s no secret by now that I love yuca, auyama (kabocha squash), and plantains. My Sancocho is full of these hearty root veggies along with others that you may not have heard before. But don’t fear, add the root veggies that you like and frankly– add the root veggies that you can find in your local grocery store. I do recommend shopping at a Hispanic or Caribbean market when looking for the classic Sancocho viveres- root vegetables.
Sancocho Quick Tips:
- Use a large pot. Read: use the largest pot that you have preferably, a caldero. Every Hispanic household has the Sancocho pot. C’mon… you THE pot I’m talking about
- Use a variety of different meats but be careful not to choose meats that are too fatty. This will make your Sancocho super oily– we don’t want that
- When choosing which meats, choose chicken, different cuts of beef, and pork. Up to you whether you want to use beef, pork, or smoked pork chops. I find Sancocho tastes best when at least two different meats are used
- Note that different meats cook at different speeds. Cook the one that cooks the fast first and remove from the pot. Set aside and add it back into the pot towards the end. You can also cook the different meats in different pots and then combine them altogether at the end
- Note that different root vegetables also cook at different speeds. Stagger them so that they don’t dissolve into nothing when overcooked
- If you peel your root vegetables ahead of time, leave them soaked in water with a tiny bit of salt to keep them from oxidizing
- When eating Sancocho, enjoy with white rice, ripe avocado, lime, and hot sauce (optional)
- Sancocho can feed a village. Feel free to add more water to stretch out the soup. You can also add more chicken if you feel like the meat is running low
- Corn is optional! If you add corn, make sure it’s corn on the cob. I recommend slicing corn on the cob into 1 inch slices so it’s easier to eat and cook
If you’d like to see a step-by-step tutorial on How to Make Sancocho Dominicano | Dominican Sancocho visit my YouTube Channel: Chef Zee Cooks!
And now for the recipe! ….
- 1 ½ lbs Beef Ribs
- 1 ½ lbs Chuck Steak
- 1 ½ lbs Chicken
- 1 lbs Smoked Pork Chops
- 1 ½ lbs Pork Chops
- 1 Yautia Blanca
- 1 Yautia Amarilla
- 1 Ñame
- 2 Yuca
- 2 Platanos
- 2 ½ lbs Auyama
- 1 Onion
- 1 Green Pepper
- 1 Head of Garlic
- 4 Sprigs of Thyme
- 2 tbs DR Orégano
- Black Pepper to Taste
- 3 ½ tbs Sopita- Chicken Bouillon Cube
- 1 cup Sour Oranges
- Olive Oil
- 2 tbs Sopita- Chicken Bouillon Cube
- 2 Onions
- 1 Green Pepper
- ½ Orange Pepper *optional
- 1 Cup Recao
- 6 Sprigs of Fresh Thyme
- Cut meat (Steak, Pork chops, and smoked pork chops) into thick slices and chunks
- Place all of the meats-- steak, pork chops, smoked pork chops, chicken, and ribs into a large mixing. Then add lemon juice, vinegar, and cold water
- Massage meat making sure to clean thoroughly
- Leave meat in lemon, vinegar, and water for 20-30mins then drain and rinse once more with cold water
- While meat is sitting in wash/brine, feel free to start preparing the marinade. In a blender, add white onion, green pepper, 1 head of garlic, 3 tbs of chicken bouillon cube/sopita, 4 sprigs of fresh thyme, 2tbs of Dominican Oregano, 1 cup Sour Orange Juice, and Olive Oil
- Blend together until mixture is nice and smooth
- Now add marinade to meat and massage into the meat until well combined.
- Marinate meat for 3-4 hours, overnight, or two days max
- In a very large heated pot or caldero, add olive oil
- Add meat and marinade. Mix together
- After 5 minutes, cover pot and continue to cook for 15-20 minutes
- After 15-20 minutes, remove chicken and set aside
- Now add water to pot. Add enough water to cover meats completely
- Now add 1 red onion, 1 white onion, orange pepper *optional, green pepper, 2 tbs Chicken Bouillon Cube, Recao (Cilantro/Culantro), and Fresh Thyme.
- Mix together and simmer for 1 hour and 30 minutes
- While Sancocho is stewing, prepare viveres (root vegetables) Peel root vegetables and place them into cold water. Add salt. This will prevent them from oxidizing and help them retain their color once you place them into the stew
- After an 1 hour 30 mins, remove peppers, cilantro, onions, bones, and any excess oil that may have collected on the top
- Add 1/2 of the auyama (kaboucha squash) and boil until auyama dissolves which usually takes about 20 mins
- Next, add the chicken back into the Sancocho
- Then add yautia, name, yuca, and more water. Boil for an additional 20-30 mins
- Now add the rest of the viveres-- the 2nd of the auyama and the green plantains
- Boil for another 15-20 mins until the plantains have cooked through
Enjoy sancocho with white rice, avocado, fresh lime, and hot sauce!