Sancocho (Puerto Rican Beef Stew) is very similar to the “beef stew” prepared in the United States. It is a soup simmered to perfection with beef stew meat, tropical root vegetables, green plantains and Caribbean pumpkin for a savory dish. A traditional comfort food that is also prepared with plantain dumplings known as bollitas. The dumplings are also referred to as bollitos or bolitas.
Its creamy beef broth enhances the hearty tropical root vegetables and dumplings with rich beef flavor. The aroma of the tropical herbs and vegetables permeates the air while cooking this stew.
In the past, I would spend many hours in the kitchen preparing and cooking this delicious beef stew. No more! This beef stew can now be prepared promptly because I package the tropical root vegetables (viandas) in advance. You, therefore, reduce the food preparation time when making this dish. I just cook the meat, add the necessary condiments and place the frozen root vegetables (viandas) in a cooking pot for 40 minutes.
The term Viandas refers to our tropical root vegetables and starchy fruits collectively.
Let’s Start Cooking the Beef Stew Meat!
Cut beef stew meat into 1-inch cubes. Trim meat of excess fat and rinse.
Pour 10 cups of water into a large saucepan (Dutch Oven) and bring to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon of Lite salt (or to taste) and stir.
Now we are ready to add the beef stew meat to the saucepan. Stir the meat. Cover with lid and cook for 20 minutes over medium heat.
We Can Begin Preparing the Viandas for the Sancocho!
These are the root vegetables that we normally use for the Sancocho. Listed from the top are: Ñame (Yam), Yautía (Taro Root) and Yuca (Cassava). For this recipe, you will need ½ pound each of Ñame, Yautía and Yuca peeled and cut into 1½-inch chunks. Click on the link to learn how to peel and cut each root vegetable: How to Prepare Root Vegetables for Beef Stew.
Peel and Cut the Calabaza (West Indian Pumpkin) for the Sancocho!
This is a West Indian Pumpkin (Calabaza). For this recipe, you will need 4 ounces of Caribbean pumpkin peeled and cut into 1 to 1½-inch chunks. You can also substitute the Caribbean pumpkin with butternut squash. Click on the link to learn how to peel and cut the Caribbean pumpkin: How to Prepare Root Vegetables for Beef Stew.
Peel and Cut the Green Plantain for the Sancocho!
The Green Plantain is a member of the banana family. For the viandas, you will need 1 green plantain peeled and cut into 1 to 1½-inch round slices. Click on the link to learn how to peel and cut the green plantain: How to Prepare Root Vegetables for Beef Stew.
We just finished peeling, cutting and rinsing the viandas for the Sancocho.
Let’s Add the Ingredients to Enhance the Flavors of the Beef Stew!
After the meat has been cooking for 20 minutes, we can now add the vegetables, herbs and seasonings to the cooked beef stew meat.
First add 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, 2 seasoning envelopes with coriander and annatto, 3 minced garlic cloves, 2 tablespoons tomato sauce, 3 ajies dulces (sweet peppers) cut in halves, ¼ cup of chopped onions, ¼ cup of chopped green pepper, 3 sprigs of chopped cilantro and 2 ears of corn, cut into 1-inch slices. I normally add 2 chopped culantro leaves but I harvested all the culantro from my garden several months ago. However, if you live in Puerto Rico or in an area where culantro/recao is available, then add the culantro.
The seasoning envelopes with coriander and annatto are now sold at regular supermarkets. However, if the seasoning envelopes are not available at your local market, click on the link to learn how to create your own Special Blend of Seasonings.
The tropical sweet peppers (ajíes dulces) and culantro have such a pleasant aroma that brings out the flavor of this dish. Don’t worry if you can’t find our sweet peppers and culantro at the Latin Market. Click on the links to find an alternative for our Sweet Peppers and Culantro.
Stir all the ingredients. Cover with lid and cook for 5 minutes over medium heat.
We Are Now Ready for the Viandas!
After 5 minutes of cooking, we can add the viandas and 1 medium potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks.
Stir all the ingredients. Cover saucepan with lid and cook over medium low heat for 40 minutes or until the viandas are fork tender.
After 20 minutes of cooking, the sauce is starting to thicken.
Let’s Prepare the Plantain Dumplings Known as Bollitas de Plátano!
Peel and grate 2 green plantains, using the super-fine blade of a box grater. I also wear a cut resistant glove to avoid cutting my fingers.
Place the grated plantain dough into a bowl.
Pour 2 tablespoons of skim milk or the milk of your preference, ¼ teaspoon of Lite salt (or to taste) and 1 minced garlic clove.
Stir until all the ingredients are well blended. The dumplings are optional. However, when I was living in Puerto Rico, Sancocho was always served with dumplings in my household.
Let’s Start Cooking the Plantain Dumplings!
When the Sancocho is ready to be served, fill a melon baller with the plantain mixture. Release the plantain mixture from melon baller on top of broth. Cover saucepan with lid and cook over medium-low heat for 7 minutes or until the plantain dumplings are thoroughly cooked.
If you are going to place the plantain mixture by tablespoonfuls on top of broth, you will need to turn the dumplings to the other side for an additional 7 minutes.
The Sancocho has been cooking now for 40 minutes. The viandas and beef stew meat are tender.
The plantain dumplings (bollitas) are thoroughly cooked as well. The dumplings will also thicken the beef broth while cooking.
It’s Time to Serve the Sancocho (Puerto Rican Beef Stew)!
We are ready to serve this delicious and hearty Sancocho (Puerto Rican Beef Stew)!
I like to place several dumplings in the middle of the bowl and surround the dumplings with the broth, corn and viandas. A side dish of white rice is also served with the Sancocho.
To save on food preparation time for Sancocho, I purchase large quantities of viandas at the Latin market. Once they are peeled and cut to size, according to my recipe, they are placed in vacuum seal bags and sealed with a vacuum sealer. I label each bag and store them in the freezer for future use. Click on link to learn How to Prepare Root Vegetables for Beef Stew.
Click on the button below to watch my YouTube video on How to Make Sancocho (Puerto Rican Beef Stew)!
Recipe and Nutritional Facts!
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The Puerto Rican Beef Stew (Sancocho) is a soup simmered with beef stew meat that enhances the hearty tropical root vegetables with rich beef flavor. This dish is very similar to the Beef Stew prepared in the United States.
- 10 cups water
- 1 tablespoon salt (low sodium) or to taste
- 1 pound beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 seasoning envelopes with coriander and annatto
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoon tomato sauce
- 3 sweet peppers (ajíes dulces), halved and seeded
- 1 culantro leaf or 3 sprigs cilantro, chopped
- ¼ cup onions, chopped
- ¼ cup green peppers, chopped
- 2 ears corn, cut into 1-inch slices
Root Vegetables (Viandas)
- ½ pound yautía (taro root), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
- ½ pound ñame (yam), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
- ½ pound yuca (cassava), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
- 1 medium potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
- 1 green plantain, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
- 4 ounces calabaza (West Indian Pumpkin), peeled, seeded and without strings, cut into 1-inch chunks
Green Plantain Dumplings
- 2 large green plantains, peeled
- ¼ teaspoon salt (low sodium) or to taste
- 2 tablespoons skim milk
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
- Bring 10 cups of water to a boil. Add salt.
- Add beef stew meat to saucepan. Cover with lid and cook over medium heat for 20 minutes.
- Add the remaining ingredients except for the root vegetables (viandas) and dumplings. Stir well.
- Cover saucepan with lid and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Add the root vegetables (viandas) to the saucepan. Cover saucepan and cook over medium-low heat for 40 minutes or until the root vegetables are tender.
- Prepare the dumplings by grating the green plantains and place in a bowl.
- Add the salt, minced garlic and skim milk to the grated plantain. Stir well.
- You can place the plantain mixture by tablespoonfuls on top of broth or you can fill a melon baller with the plantain mixture. Release plantain mixture from melon baller on top of broth.
- Cover saucepan with lid and cook over medium-low heat for 7 minutes or until dumplings are done.
Prepare the root vegetables in advance to reduce your food preparation time. Visit my food blogging post on How to Prepare Root Vegetables for Beef Stew!
If you are going to peel and cut the viandas the same day of preparing this recipe, then add 40 minutes to the Prep Time.
- Category: Soups and Stews
- Cuisine: Puerto Rican
Keywords: Puerto Rican Beef Stew