Loco por el locro!
The tradition of eating certain foods to help celebrate cultural traditions dates back far beyond written history. From food being left in tombs of Egyptian tombs to eat turkey to celebrate genocide… Food plays an essential part in human history and it is no different in Argentina where they use Locro to celebrate the May revolution (Revolución de Mayo) and also as their national dish alongside the more commonly known asado.
Where did the tradition of eating locro come from?
One of the great parts about the traditions of food in latin america is that it´s got a lot of history. Locro is said to originate from the indigenous tribes living in the andes around the time of the Incan empire. Locro spread with the people known as the Cuyo as they migrated into the north of Argentina before the colonization of the spaniards. After the May revolution which took place in 1810 from may 18 to the 25th, which through a series of events saw the removal of the spanish control and the establishment of a local government, Locro became known as a national dish to signify the disconnection of europe and the rise of there own culture. It is usually eaten to commemorate the May revolution on the 25th and also eaten mainly in the winter to ward of sickness as it is known to have lots of vitamins.
What is locro?
Locro is a thick hearty soup traditionally made with corn and other vegetables and meats that the local people had to use around them. It has many different varieties and is really up to the cook to decide what is in it. Normally though, it is made with corn, beans, onions, potatoes or squash, and some form of meat (which could range anywhere from minced beef to intestines). In Ecuador called yahuarlocro which is made with lamb instead of beef and usually contains intestines and blood. But here in Argentina it is said to have spread from the Cuyo region. Here the locals used corn sometimes hominy (a form of dried corn that can be whole or ground), squash/pumpkin, beans, onions, and papa chola (which is similar to a baby potato with a hint of sweetness). In Argentina a side sauce called Quiquirimichi, this is similar to a chimichurri but a little spicier.
How to make locro?
Soups are one of the many foods where recipes mean very little, the taste will change depending on the quality of vegetables and type you use so this is a rough guideline that will get you started. Start with soaking your dried beans the day before, you can use black beans, garbanzo (chickpeas), lima, hominy, or white beans any beans or dried vegetables work, it´s a soup! If you got it chuck it in! The next day start cooking the soup early in the day as this soup takes a long time to cook. Brown your meat in a big sauce pot on high heat in batches (If you are vegetarian you can leave this step out…). You can use minced beef, chorizo, sausage or ribs (staying with the if you got it, you should use it theme of this soup). Season and the brown meat on both sides in batches searing the leaner meats first and taking them out and browning fattier meats towards the end. After you have finished searing the meat and taking it out of the pot, turn the heat to medium and add chopped garlic and onions. Cooking until soft and almost translucent color (probably a bit brown as well from the meat). After, add a little tomato paste with a bay leaf or 2, oregano, cumin, you can play around here depending on what spices/herbs you like. Cook the tomato paste for a few minutes and stir trying to get no sticky bits to burn on the bottom of the pan (this will make your soup bitter in the end if left). Now add your meat back into the pan as well as squash (this should give it the yellowish color you´re looking for) and the drained beans/dried vegetables that you soaked the day before. Add water (or stock) to cover the top of all the ingredients. Bring to a boil and turn down to a medium/low heat and cook for a few hours until the beans/hominy is cooked. Season with salt, pepper, and some lemon juice and you are ready to eat! But wait!
Quiquirimichi a must do accompaniment!
The great spicy side dish most put right on top! Like a chimichurri this sauce is primarily oil based. You start with chopping all the ingredients into smallish pieces red chorizo(cured not raw) or Longaniza (a popular fiambre in argentina), oil (can use any type chorizo oil is probably the best), red wine, spring onions, red peppers (choose your degree of spice), dried chili flakes, and fresh oregano. Leave this to infuse while your soup cooks. Spoon over your soup and dig in! For more info on this blog or our Spanish School in Buenos Aires write to us below.
Do you like locro or have a recipe to share?. We would love to hear from you!.