One of my MBA class friends here in Mexico City is married to a woman from the Dominican Republic. For Rodolfo’s birthday last year, his wife made an amazing Dominican creation known as Sancocho de las Siete Carnes. John and I were invited to the Gran Sancochada (as apparently one calls the event at which one stuffs oneself with sancocho), which of course we could not miss!
Now the recipe I linked to above states “Time: 90 minutes”. That sounds extremely optimistic to me, as I believe Rodolfo’s wife Elizabeth spent *at least* all day making this dish, and probably plenty of additional time scrounging up all of the ingredients! To start with, you have seven meats. These typically include beef, chicken, chorizo, pork, perhaps some goat, maybe bacon or cured beef (cecina), you get the idea. Rodolfo was quick to point out in his invitation that although the specifics of the siete carnes are left a bit vague in advance (depending upon what’s available), “…no es carne de gato, ni de rata, ni nada por el estilo.” [translation: It's not cat, nor rat, anything along those lines.]
In addition to the meat, sancocho requires a variety of Dominican-y vegetables like “la yuca, yautía, ahuyama, y todas esas cosas dominicanas que no entiendo lo que son,” in Rodolfo’s words. [translation: yuca or cassava, yautia or malanga which is similar to taro, ahuyama or cucurbita maxima which is a type of squash, and all those Dominican things that I don't understand what they are.] I also recall ñame [yams], platanos [plantains], corn cobs cut into thirds, and other more familiar vegetables and spices.
The number of ingredients is impressive, but I have to admit what most impressed me about Elizabeth’s cooking [before I actually tried the dish] was the pot she was using. This thing took up about 4 burners on their gas stovetop. It was MASSIVE. And bubbling away inside it was vastly more sancocho than our group of 20-something guests could possibly eat. I remember thinking to myself, “This woman is not screwing around in the kitchen,” and feeling slightly ashamed of the wee, loser pots we had hiding in our cupboards back home.
The sancocho was served with various accoutrements like avocado slices, rice, hot sauce, etc., and plenty of alcohol. It was fantastic– definitely as meat-diverse as promised, with amazing flavor from all those ingredients having simmering together for a few hours. I had at least two helpings, quickly making a mess of myself trying to eat the corn off the cob and ripping some of the meat off bones. Then I spent the rest of the evening wondering things like,
- What will they do with the rest of the sancocho?
- They cannot possibly have enough tupperware containers to store all of that, nor space in their fridge… right?
- Maybe they have an extra “sancocho fridge” hiding in a back room, just like people in the Midwest have an extra “meat fridge” in the garage?
- Maybe Rodolfo brings the extra sancocho into work and sells it?
- What would he charge?
- Why didn’t we bring 18 tupperware containers along with us?”
- Is my purse waterproof?
- Why didn’t I bring a larger, waterproof purse?
This is the point in any food-related post where I might claim, “This was so good I will definitely make this at home!” And the sancocho was indeed good enough to almost inspire me to that point– it almost feels like it should be a traditional Midwestern dish with all that meat hanging out along with numerous ears of corn!! But given my feelings of pot inadequacy and skepticism that I could identify all those Dominican veggies without a field guide, I think I will just wait for the next Gran Sancochada.