While Colombian cuisine may get a bad rap — let’s face it, the menu del dia isn’t exactly inspired with its predictable delivery of grilled chicken, beef or pork, rice, vegetable soup and a small excuse for a salad — there are some traditional recipes which offer up a delectable sample of local fare.
The lack of foodie culture in Colombia may be a result of the prioritization of quantity over quality. In other words, gourmet eating is a luxury that comes with being free from concerns about feeding oneself and one’s family. While wealthy neighborhoods in Colombian cities such as Bogota, Medellin and Cartegena, among others, are beginning to see a rise in international-quality fine dining options, a look inside Colombia’s borders can provide a delicious meal made from local ingredients, prepared in a traditional fashion.
Sancocho is one such dish. The one-pot stew, which can be seen bubbling over a fire pit in the countryside, could feed a large family with ease. Sancocho is a broth, thick with some kind of meat, tubers and vegetables, and accompanied by rice, avocado and spicy aji sauce. The ingredients vary depending on the region, for example the Antioquia region often prepares the dish with beef or pork, chicken is the most common base in Valle del Cauca, and a fish version of the stew is popular on the Caribbean coast.
Erica, who grew up in Colombia but now lives in the U.S., has set up her own food blog, “My Colombian Recipes,” to bring dishes like sancocho to the world. She says that she was inspired by her grandmother, mamita, who cooked amazing traditional dishes.
Erica recalls her grandmother preparing a big pot of sancocho for her nine children and their family for their Sunday lunch, as well as cooking the dish with her friends over an open fire in the countryside.
Check out My Colombian Recipes for Erica’s grandmother’s chicken sancocho recipe, traditional to the Valle region.