During the winter months, I love to make a pot of Puerto Rican Beef Stew (Sancocho). In the past, I would spend many hours in the kitchen preparing and cooking this delicious soup. One day, I decided to go to the Latin market and purchase large quantities of tropical root vegetables, pumpkin (West Indian Pumpkin) and plantains. You can also purchase these produce at many Asian markets. Once the produce are sorted into groups, I would then peel and cut each produce according to the exact measurements found in my cookbook recipe. After the viandas∗ are peeled and cut, they are subsequently packaged in air-tight vacuum seal bags and placed in the freezer for future use.
I am, therefore, able to reduce the food preparation time when making this dish because the viandas are prepared in advance. When I inform my family that I am going to make Puerto Rican Beef Stew, they understand that this meal will be made in no time. I just cook the meat, add the necessary condiments and place the frozen root vegetables in the pot to cook for 20 to 30 minutes.
∗The term Viandas refers to our tropical root vegetables and starchy fruits collectively.
Let Me Introduce You to the Viandas for the Beef Stew!
The root vegetables from left to right are the following: yam (ñame), taro root (yautía) and cassava (yuca).
The yam (ñame) has a thin dark brown skin with a rough surface. It has a white or yellow flesh. The yam was brought to the island from West Africa. The taro root (yautía) is a tuberous, starchy tropical root vegetable with brown and shaggy skin. The flesh can vary in color from white to yellow to pink. The cassava (yuca) has a dark brown hard rind protecting the firm white starchy flesh that has a stiff cord running lengthwise down the center. Both the taro root (yautía) and cassava (yuca) are native to the Taíno Indians.
These pumpkins (West Indian Pumpkins) are Caribbean pumpkins and native to the Taíno Indians. The West Indian Pumpkin are round squash and very popular in the Caribbean, Central and South America. The skin color can vary – green, organge and tan hues. The flesh is firm and bright orange with a sweet flavor similar to butternut squash. You can purchase whole pumpkins or pumpkin wedges at the Latin market. You can, however, substitute butternut squash for the West Indian Pumpkins.
These pumpkins (West Indian Pumpkins) were grown this past summer in my backyard in Northwest Indiana!
The green plantain is a member of the banana family. However, it is longer, thicker and much starchier than the familiar banana. The plantains originated in Southeast Asia.
Let’s Start Peeling and Cutting the Taro Root (Yautía)!
Cut both ends and peel the taro root (yautía) with a potato peeler or knife. Cut across several large pieces approximately 1½ inches.
Cut the large pieces into 1-inch chunks.
Let’s Start Peeling and Cutting the Yam (Ñame)!
Cut the yam across into 2-inch slices.
Peel the yam with a knife.
Cut the yam in half.
Cut yam into 1-inch chunks.
Let’s Start Peeling and Cutting the Cassava (Yuca)!
Cut both ends and peel the cassava (yuca) with a knife. Cut cassava across into 1-inch slices.
Cut the cassava in half lengthwise. Remove the fibrous string located in the center of yuca.
Let’s Starting Peeling and Cutting the Plantain!
Cut both ends of plantain. With a knife, slit skin lengthwise from top to bottom.
Insert a spoon in the slit between the flesh and skin, pressing spoon backwards to peel the plantain lengthwise from top to bottom. With your hands, remove the peel. You continue this process until the skin is completely removed.
You can use a flatware knife instead of a spoon to peel the plantain.
Cut plantain into 1-inch round slices.
Let’s Start Peeling and Cutting the West Indian Pumpkin!
Using a spoon, remove the seeds and strings from the pumpkin wedge.
Insert a knife between the flesh and the skin to peel the pumpkin.
Cut the wedge into 1-inch chunks.
Other Root Vegetables!
I also peel and cut several russet potatoes into 1-inch chunks. If you are living in Puerto Rico, many islanders also add apio – a root vegetables. Since apio is not my favorite root vegetable, I do not add apio to my beef stew. You select the viandas of your preference when making this dish.
Let’s Start Packaging the Viandas!
When all the viandas are peeled and cut to size, weigh each vianda (according to my recipe). Place the different types of measured viandas for the beef stew in separate bowls. Rinse the viandas.
Add the assorted viandas into a vacuum seal bag. This bag contains the exact amount of viandas to prepare one pot of beef stew.
Vacuum seal each bag with a vacuum sealer. Repeat this process until you have packaged all the viandas for the beef stew based on the quantity of produce you purchased.
When you vacuum seal your produce, it prevents air from reaching the food due to the secure air-tight wrapping. Subsequently, the food will last longer and prevent the food from getting freezer burn while being stored in the freezer.
Place the individual packages in the freezer for future use. You will definitely save on food preparation time by peeling and cutting the viandas in advance. I normally label and date each bag before it is placed in the freezer.
Click on the button below to watch my YouTube video on How to Prepare and Package Viandas for Beef Stew (Sancocho)!
Recipe and Nutritional Facts!
Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and is approximate only. Please refer to our Nutritional Facts Disclaimer for more information.Print
You can save a lot of food preparation time by packaging the viandas in advance for our delicious beef stew. When you vacuum seal your produce, it prevents air from reaching the food due to the secure air-tight wrapping. Subsequently, the food will last longer and prevent the food from getting freezer burn while being stored in the freezer.
- 2½ pounds taro root (yautía), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
- 2½ pounds yam (ñame), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
- 2½ pounds cassava (yuca), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
- 5 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
- 5 green plantain, peeled and cut into 1-inch round slices
- 2½ cups pumpkin (calabaza – West Indian Pumpkin), peeled, seeded and without strings, cut into 1-inch chunks
- When all the viandas are peeled and cut to size, weigh each vianda, according to my beef stew recipe.
- Place the different types of measured viandas for the beef stew recipe in a bowl. You should have a total of 5 bowls.
- Rinse the viandas.
- Add the assorted viandas into 5 vacuum seal bags. Each vacuum seal bag should contain the exact amount of viandas to prepare one pot of beef stew.
- Vacuum seal each bag and place in freezer for future use.
- You can label and date each bag if you so desire.
You can select the viandas of your preference to prepare this delicious beef stew! The term Viandas refers to our tropical root vegetables and starchy fruits collectively.
- Category: Food Preparation Techniques
- Cuisine: Puerto Rican
Keywords: Root Vegetables for Beef Stew