Winter is time for hot delicious meals that taste like home. Nothing compares to smell your grandma’s specialties in your own kitchen, and even when I can enjoy a good bowl of chili, my winters favorites come from my homeland, Argentina.
Argentina is the world’s eighth-largest country and covers most of the southern portion of South America. Most people relate Argentina to soccer, tango, and Buenos Aires. Don’t get me wrong, I love Buenos Aires, it’s an amazing city -vibrant and full of culture- but there are so many other places to visit: from the colorful mountains in the North to the glaciers in Patagonia in the South, from the majestic Andes in the West to the Iguazu Falls in the East, and everything in between those. Every corner of my beautiful country has something to offer, something to enchant you, and Argentinian food is part of the charm.
I have a long list of wintry delicious dishes from Argentina but my absolute favorite is “locro“, which is a corn and squash stew, but not just that. There are many versions of this classic dish, I chose one in which the ingredients are available fresh in Wichita. Are you ready to taste a bite of my country directly from your kitchen? Here we go!
Locro Recipe (Corn and squash stew)
Locro is considered a national dish in Argentina. It’s prepared for Independence Day (July 9th) and other important national holidays. The most popular version is made out of hominy, and could be considered a meat lover’s paradise. My favorite version is made out of fresh corn. and the meat in this recipe is optional: in my childhood house, we usually ate the vegan version.
Ingredients (6 servings)
- 1 onion, minced
- 2 green onions, minced
- 1 red pepper, chopped
- 1 small squash, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped
- 6-8 ears of fresh corns(or 2 cans of sweet corn, not creamy)
- salt and black grounded pepper, to taste
- 1 tsp. sweet paprika
- olive oil
- Optional meats: 10 oz of cured chorizo (or Italian sausage) in thick slices, 16 oz bacon (thick cut) chopped, 1 lb of pork shoulder cut into 1″ pieces.
The locro preparation times vary depending on what your choice is between fresh corn or the canned one: if you are using the fresh you need to cut the corn from the cob. The cooking times are super different also for the vegan version and the meat one: you will need 20-25 minutes to cook the vegan version, while you are going to add a full hour to that if you are preparing the meat version. No matter which one you choose, you are going to need a big cooking pot.
Let’s get started!
- Sautee the minced onion and green onions with the chopped red pepper in olive oil. Reserve some of the green onions and red pepper to decorate your plates.
- Add 4 cups of water and 1 tbs of sweet paprika.
- Add the pork shoulder cut into 1″ pieces. Let the meat cook for one hour, it’s the only way to get the texture we are looking for. (Optional step)
- Add the cured chorizo (or Italian sausage) slices and the chopped bacon. (Optional step)
- Add the finely chopped squash. Let cook for 15 minutes.
- Add the fresh corn and let everything on the stove for another 10-15 minutes.
- Adjust with sea salt and black pepper to taste.
- Turn off the heat and let it simmer, while you wait just think about all the delicious flavors melting, mixing, and settling… Oh my, I’m just feeling it in my mouth!
- Serve in deep dishes or bowls and decorate with the chopped green onions and red pepper.
You Need a Dessert
In Argentina, we love a good meal, and a good meal is never complete without a dessert. I was cooking locro for my family and thinking, almost feeling guilty about it: “how can I cook this and not offer a delicious Argentinian dessert?” And guess what? You can’t do that. You need a dessert.
I didn’t have much time and I haven’t thought about it when I went for my groceries, so I just open my pantry and in less of a minute decided what to do. But here I need your promise: never ever tell my mom I used pre-cooked rice to prepare the traditional “arroz con leche“!
Ingredients (6 servings)
- 4-6 cups of milk (start with 4 and add more if necessary)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 and 1/2 cups of rice
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
You just need to cook the rice in milk, with sugar, until the rice is soft and the milk is more like a cream than a liquid. Ideally, you will need to use normal white rice, not pre-cooked, not parboiled, so it’s really creamy. I only used cinnamon, but you can add also nutmeg, raisins, lemon zest, or orange zest. You can also vary the flavor by choosing brown or white sugar. The twist is on you and your creativity!
- Bring the milk to boil and add the sugar, stir until dissolved, and low the heat to medium.
- Add the rice and stir frequently to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom.
- The time of cooking will vary if you are using pre-cooked rice or normal rice. Regardless, let the rice in the pot twice the time you would use for a savory recipe. The idea is the rice absorbs most of the milk but not all, and it never ever should be “al dente”.
- Let it simmer and add the cinnamon (and the optional ingredients if you want!)
- Serve when warm or cold and enjoy!
If you would like to know more about the delicious food we eat in Argentina, just live your request in the comments and I will do my best to serve you. My family will thank you for tasting before I post the pictures!
These are some of the savory and sweet dishes we eat in Argentina. Some pictures are mine but most of them are from my friends that wanted to make sure you have a wide variety to choose from. Thank you, Vicky, Adriana, Deborah, Rorro, Marina, Jorge, and Facundo: I couldn’t put all the pictures, but please know I’m very grateful to all of you!