It is! We haven’t seen the sun in Houston for about 3 weeks now. Don’t get me wrong. I’m thrilled with the snow and cold, I don’t want it to go away, but it is hella gloomy around here.
So, to counteract all the dreariness, I made sancocho; soup, more specifically, chicken soup. Traditionally, this is prepared with chicken, ñame [pronounced nyah-may] and culantro, in addition to the standard spices, that’s it. I did follow this traditional recipe and ended up with a bowl of goodness that took me right back home.
About the ingredients:
Ñame is a type of tuber, one of many varieties of yam. I’m not sure where you’re shopping for groceries, but here in Houston it has become easier to find ‘real’ latino produce. Of course this little fact makes my heart swoon with merriment. However, should you not have this tuber available in your area, you could use potatoes in its stead. Not the same, but still workable. Beware when peeling this root as it exudes a milky sap that is slightly slimy.
Culantro and cilantro are 2nd cousins. The tastes are similar, but culantro is like cilantro on steroids. The flavor is deeper and savory. They look nothing alike.
Carrots ~ I like adding carrots whenever I’m making a broth. They add a bit of sweetness that is just delicious.
Chicken ~ I am partial to dark meat, particularly when stewing chicken. I also recommend you use chicken that is still on the bone, because this will build the most flavor. I browned the chicken before boiling it and I removed the bones after the sancocho was done, neither of these steps are required.
Ok, back to cooking. Here’s what you’ll need:
3 lbs chicken pieces, (browned, optional)
1 lb name, cubed
10 culantro leaves
3 tbsp Maggi or Knorr chicken bouillon
1 carrot, peeled cut in thirds
2 cloves garlic, whole-husks and all
Salt and black pepper to taste
Add the chicken, 1/2 of the yam, 6 culantro leaves, carrot, garlic, and the bouillon to a stock pot. Add enough water to cover everything generously–about 5 qts.–and bring the pot to a boil over high heat. Once it boils, remove the foam that is floating over the top, lower the temperature to medium bringing it to a medium simmer. Cover it loosely with the lid and allow it to simmer for about 45 minutes.
At this point the yam will be done and breaking apart, this will help thicken the broth. Remove the culantro, carrots and garlic cloves. At this point you can also remove the chicken to debone it (if you want to).
Add the rest of the yam, the deboned chicken and allow it to cook for another 2o minutes or until the freshly added yam is tender. Chop the rest of the culantro and add it to the broth, allow it to cook for about 5 minutes. Serve with white rice.
What about you? What do you cook/eat to fight the winter blahs?