Locro is one of those dishes that inspires rivalries and stirs intense family pride. It seems there are countless versions of this hearty Argentine stew from the northwestern provinces, and of course, any recipe handed down from the venerable abuela is considered a culinary masterpiece. Period.
Faced with a dizzying array of recipes that had excellent lineage but invariably involved some objectionable ingredient like tripe (sorry, Grandma), I did the most sensible thing I could think of—I took the abuela out of the equation. I eventually settled on a recipe by Dan Perlman, an American chef and food writer living in Buenos Aires.
As Dan explains on his food blog SaltShaker, he developed this locro recipe after researching numerous other recipes, talking with Argentine home cooks, and tinkering a bit in the kitchen. Though the preparation is a bit labor intensive, the result is a rich stew that's packed with flavor and very satisfying.
So, cozy up with a big bowl of locro on a cold day, and enjoy this recipe that would surely make any Argentine grandmother proud!
Adapted from a recipe by Dan Perlman
1 cup dried white corn [hominy]
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2- ¼" thick slices of smoked pancetta or slab bacon, cubed
2 chorizos colorados or other slightly spicy sausage, sliced
2- 1" thick pieces of osso buco [beef shanks], or similar cut
2 ears of fresh yellow sweet corn, cut the kernels off the cobs
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. paprika
2 bay leaves
salt to taste
½ tsp. freshly-ground black pepper
1 ½ c. butternut squash, peeled and diced small
1 ½ c. yams, peeled and diced small
1 large baking potato, peeled and diced small
2 plum tomatoes, cut in small wedges
chopped green onion for garnish [optional]
chili oil [see directions]
Soak the hominy in 2 cups of water overnight (a minimum of 12 hours).
The next day, prepare the chili oil in advance by soaking a teaspoon of ají molido (or crushed red pepper flakes) in a tablespoon of olive oil for 2-3 hours.
Place the onions, garlic, pancetta, chorizo, and osso buco in a large stewpot. Cook over medium heat until the onions are translucent. Add the fresh yellow corn, cumin, paprika, bay leaves, salt, and pepper. Continue to cook, stirring regularly, for roughly 10 minutes. Add the soaked hominy, including the soaking water. Add hot water to the pot to about 2 inches above the level of the ingredients. Add the remaining vegetables, stir, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, stirring every 15-20 minutes, for at least 2 hours.
At this point, uncover the pot and remove the bay leaves. Remove the pieces of osso buco and discard the bones. Cut the meat into bite-sized pieces, and then return it to the pot. Continue to stir over low heat, and using the back of a wide spoon or spatula, press the ingredients up against the sides of the pot so that the starchy vegetables and tomato break down into the soup (the corn and meat will resist being mashed). As you continue to stir, mash, and cook, the soup should gradually thicken. Continue until the locro reaches the rich consistency of a stew. Add salt to taste.
Serve in bowls, and garnish with green onions and a touch of chili oil.
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