Delicious Dominican Cuisine

A Buen Tiempo... Buen Provecho! ;)

Dominican Sancocho (Hearty Meat Stew)/Sancocho Dominicano

Sancocho is one of those dishes that takes time and patience to make, but the result is worth the labor.  There are also different ways of making a sancocho, you can always add or subtract any meat of your preference.   This is what we call in my household a “sancocho con todos los powers!” which means that this is a fully loaded and powerful stew. 🙂  This stew really hits the spot on a rainy day or cool winter night!

This recipe requires a good amount of prep work since it designed to feed approximately 10 – 12 people, but I promise it will deliver on flavor and richness.  As always with any large recipe, you can scale it down to make a smaller batch, however, this stew is so delicious that you will be glad you made a Big pot! 🙂

In order to make it, you will need the following ingredients:

4 lbs Beef with Bones (Pecho de Res)
2 lbs Boneless Pork Chunks (Masita de Cerdo)
2 lbs Goat Meat (Chivo)
2 lbs Longaniza (Dominican sausage)
2 lbs Smoked Pork chops (Chuleta Ahumada)
1 Whole Chicken (approx 3 – 4 lbs)
2 – 3 lbs Smoked Pork Bones (Huesos de Cerdo Ahumado)

Vegetables for sofrito:
1 Large Onion
2 Celery Sticks
1 Large Red Bell Pepper
1 Large Green Bell Pepper
1 Cilantro Bunch (about 2 cups)
6 Cloves of Garlic
3 – 4 Green Habanero Chiles (aji gustoso, make sure to get the green ones because the red ones are very HOT)
1/4 Cup Vinegar
2 Limes
1 tbsp Salt
1 tsp Black Pepper

Vegetables for Stew:
2 – 3 lbs  Yucca
2 – 3 lbs  Malanga (Yautia)
4 – 5  Potatoes
2 lbs  Acorn Squash (Auyama)
4 – 5  Green Bananas (Guineitos Verdes)
4  Corn Ears

Plantain Dumplings (Bollitos de Platano):
3 – 4 Plantains
1 tsp Salt
1 tbsp Olive Oil

Other items:
4 – 6 Cups Bitter/Sour Orange Juice (Naranja Agria)
3 tsp Salt
1.5 tsp Black Pepper
4 tsp Ground Oregano
2 tbsp Oil (Vegetable or Olive)


Before we begin, I suggest you prepare and season the meats the day before so that they absorb more flavor from the marinade.  It will also be less work when it comes time to make the actual stew. 🙂

To begin, I like to prepare a variation of a sofrito.  Take the bell peppers, onion, cilantro, habanero chiles (aji gustoso), garlic, celery and 2 limes; then give them a good wash and cut into big pieces so that we can put them in the blender later on.

You will have to blend in two batches unless you have a very LARGE blender and can fit everything in one batch. 🙂

Before you start to blend the vegetables, add the juice of the limes and about a 1/4 cup of vinegar to get it going.  You can also add some water (1/2 cup is good) to loosen up the vegetables if the puree is getting to thick.

Start with some of the vegetables and add more as the blender is running,

When all of the vegetables have been blended, add 1 tbsp of salt.  It looks like alot of salt, but remember, we are making a HUGE pot of sancocho so it’s better to infuse the salt into the seasoning now, that way we wont have to add much (or none at all) later on.

Then add about 1 tsp of fresh black pepper,

Give it a good stir and set aside to use later on.  If you don’t plan on using it soon, put it in the fridge.

Now let’s clean and prep the different meats.

For sancocho, I prefer to clean the meats with bitter/sour oranges (naranga agrias) instead of vinegar like I usually use for most meat dishes.  However, finding fresh bitter/sour oranges around here can be tricky because the local markets don’t carry them year round.  When I can’t find fresh bitter/sour oranges (for instance when I made this recipe and photographed it) I use this as an alternative:

It doesn’t infuse the meat with as much intense orange flavor as the fresh ones do, but it still works fine. 🙂  Just remember to shake the bottle well before using it.

Before we start preparing the meat, keep in mind that it is very IMPORTANT to keep the meats separate when it comes time to cook them.  Each meat will take different amounts of time to cook and get tender, also, the flavor will not develop the same way as it would if you marinate and add to the pot at different time intervals.

Before marinating, we have to clean the raw and unsmoked (yes I made that word up 🙂 ) meats.

I usually start off with the beef with bones (carne de pecho).  I use double the amount with this cut of meat than the others because it’s very flavorful, tender and also because it off sets the amount of pork in the stew.

Give it a rinse and then add some water and about 1 – 2 cups of the bitter orange juice and let it soak for about 15 – 20 minutes (to infuse the meat with some of the flavor of the orange),

Now let’s clean the goat meat,

I don’t use more than 1.5 – 2 lbs of goat meat in my sancochos because it has such a strong flavor.  You can always add more if you like the taste (if you’ve never tasted goat meat, it has a very “gamey” flavor similar to lamb).

Rinse the goat meat with fresh water, then add some water and about 1 cup of the bitter orange juice, let it soak for 15 – 20 minutes as well.

Then take the pork meat (use a cut of pork that can be used to make pork kabobs to ensure tenderness),

Rinse the meat and then add some fresh water and about a cup of the bitter orange juice, then let it soak for 15 – 20 minutes as well.

Now let’s prep the chicken.  I prefer to use a whole chicken to have a variety of cuts of meat.  You may purchase the parts of the chicken you prefer already cut up at the supermarket as well.  If you have never cut up a whole chicken, you can refer to my post with instructions if you need some guidance.  For the sancocho I do not use the trinkets (heart, liver and gizzards)…  I leave them in the freezer and use them when I make stewed chicken (pollo guisado) instead. 🙂

Take the chicken, rinse it and then add some water and about 1 – 2 cups of bitter orange juice, then let soak for 15 – 20 minutes.

After all of the meats have soaked in the bitter orange juice for 15 – 20 minutes, rinse them with fresh water, then drain them, then place them into a container to marinate.  I usually use ziploc bags because they take up less space in the fridge and are easy to wash and reuse (unless you prefer to just toss them).

Rinse and drain the goat meat,

Rinse and drain the pork meat,

And last but not least, rinse and drain the chicken,

Now all of the “unsmoked” meats have been cleaned and drained, let’s marinate them.

Add about 1 tsp of salt to the beef with bones,

Add about 1/4 – 1/2 tsp of salt to the goat meat,

Add about 1/2 tsp salt to the pork meat,

Then add about 1/2 – 1 tsp salt to the chicken,

Next, add about 1 tsp of oregano to the beef with bones,

Then add about 1/2 tsp of oregano to the goat meat,

Then add about 1/2 tsp of oregano to the pork meat,

Then add about 1/2 – 1 tsp of oregano to the chicken,

Next we add the sofrito.  I usually divide all of this sofrito between the 4 meats, but before adding to the meat, make sure to mix it well.

Add about 1 – 1.5 cups of sofrito to the beef with bones,

Add about .5 – 1 cup to the goat meat,

Add about 1 cup to the pork meat,

And then add about 1 – 1.5 cups to the chicken,

If you have any sofrito left over, just divide in between the meats and use it all. 🙂

Once all of the meats are marinaded, seal the bags and mix to make sure all of the pieces of meat are thoroughly coated.  If you are using a bowl, just mix with a spoon to coat everything.  Then put in the fridge and let marinate for atleast an hour.  Overnight for better flavor. 🙂

Now comes the fun part… COOKING TIME!! 🙂

To begin making the sancocho (stew), we start with the beef with bones (carne de pecho) because it takes the longest to cook and get tender.  Take the beef and separate it from the liquid (do not discard the liquid marinade),

Take a large pot (the capacity of the one I’m using is 16 qts, but if you have a bigger one that would be more convenient to use for this recipe 🙂 ), add 2 tbsp of olive or vegetable oil and shift the pot to spread the oil around, then put on high heat,

Wait a few minutes and let the oil get very hot, then add the beef to the pot.  You should hear a very loud sizzling noise when the meat touches the oil,

Let the meat cook for a few minutes without stirring and let it start “sweating” its juices,

After about 10 minutes stir the meat then continue stirring it every 5 – 8 minutes to avoid sticking,

Let the beef cook until the juices reduce and the meat starts to “fry” in the oil and turn into a dark brown color, this will take about 30 – 40 minutes,

Now we are ready to add the goat meat (chivo).  Separate the goat meat from the liquid marinade (DO NOT discard the marinade),

Then add it to the pot and stir,

The goat meat will release some juices and let it cook until those juices reduce down and the meat is “frying” in the oil, this will take about 20 minutes since it’s a small amount of meat,

Then we are ready to add the pork meat (masita de cerdo).  Separate the meat from the marinade (again do NOT discard the marinade 🙂 ),

Then add it to the pot and stir,

Let the pork cook for about 10 minutes, then take the smoked pork chops (chuletas ahumadas),

Cut the chops into bite sized pieces,

By now the meat in the pot should still have some of the juices from the pork meat,

Add the smoked pork chop pieces to the pot,

Stir and let it cook until the remaining juices cook down, another 15 minutes or so, then take the chicken and separate it from the liquid marinade (do not discard the marinade 🙂 ),

In order to ensure that chicken doesn’t fall apart during the cooking process, a method I use is taking the meat in the pot and accumulating it on one side,

Then add the chicken to the open area in the pot,

Let it cook for about 10 minutes, then stir very gently.  Now remember all of those left over marinades we saved earlier?

Then add all of the marinade to the pot,

Gently stir the meat and the marinade,

Then take the smoked pork bones,

Then add them to the pot and stir gently.

I love using this type of meat in my sancochos because they add a punch of flavor, however, if you cannot find this you can always just use more smoked pork chops.

Now take the “longaniza”, which is a Dominican style pork sausage,

Cut it into bite sized pieces,

Then add it to the pot and gently stir,

Let all of the meats cook in the pot for 5 – 10 minutes, then add enough water to fill the pot 3/4 of the way (about 15 – 20 cups),

Now we wait for the contents in the pot to come up to a boil.  I suggest you cover it so that it comes up to a boil faster.  In the meantime, take the corn ears and cut them into small pieces.  I usually cut each ear into 4 pieces,

Add the corn to the pot, don’t worry if the stew is not boiling yet. 🙂

While the stew is resting, most of the excess fat that the meats released will accumulate on the top.  I HIGHLY recommend that you scoop out most of the extra grease because it will enhance the flavor of your stew,

The stew looks really dark with all of that grease nested on the top, it also makes the first few servings of the stew really fattening.  As you scoop the grease out, you will see how the stew gets lighter in color,

It does take some time, but trust me it’s worth it!  Look at how much grease I removed during the first round:

There is about 2 cups of excess grease in that bowl!  Ofrescome (yikes)!

Now, let’s make some plantain dumplings (bollitos de platano).  You can just add the plantains sliced into the stew, but if you’ve never had your sanocho with these dumplings I suggest you try them out, they are delicious! 🙂

Peel the plantains,

To shred them, you can use a shredder or a food processor.  I prefer to use a food processor because it’s quicker… 🙂

Cut the plantains into small slices and add to the food processor and grate,

Add about 1 tsp salt to the shredded plantains,

Then add about 1 tbsp of olive oil,

Mix thoroughly with a spoon or your hands,

Then take about 2 tbsp of the plantains and put them in your palm and make an oval shaped dumpling (bollito), making sure to pack it well so it doesn’t fall apart,

3 – 4 Plantains usually render about 12 – 15 dumplings, depending on how big you make them,

Once all of the dumplings are made, with a large spoon, gently nest them into the stew (which should be boiling by now) so that they don’t fall apart right away,

On a side note, see how much lighter the stew looks? 🙂

As the stew boils more grease will accumulate on the surface of the stew.  Before we add the remaining vegetables, take a moment to scoop out some more of that grease, 🙂

Now we are ready to add the remaining vegetables.  Take the malanga (yautia), which is a type of yam,

Peel and cut it into bite sized pieces (remember to rinse the malanga after peeling), then set aside,

Take the Yucca (cassava),

Peel it and cut it in half, then remove the fiber that runs in the middle so that when you serve it, your guests aren’t chewing on it. 🙂

Cut the yucca into bite sized pieces and set aside.

Then take the acorn squash (auyama), peel and cut into bite sized pieces,

Then take the malanga, yucca and squash and add it to the pot.  Adding the together lets them cook at an even rate and they aren’t falling apart later on.

Then take the green bananas (guineitos), peel and cut them into bite sized pieces, set aside.

Take the potatoes, peel and cut them (make sure to rinse them as well),

Take the green bananas and potatoes and add them to the pot,

Now, I’ve certainly cut it close with space while making this sancocho haven’t I? 🙂

The pot I’m using has a capacity of 16 quarts.  It is the largest pot I have, but if you have a larger pot you can use, you probably wont have to do this following step.

If you want a really thick stew with a little broth, stop right here and let it cook until the potatoes and green bananas are fork tender.  But if you like it with more broth but ran out of pot space (as I did), a trick that I like to use is the following:

Take a smaller pot and fill it about 1/2 – 3/4 of the way with some of the meat and vegetables, put on the burner and set the heat on medium – high,

The remaining stew in the larger pot is very thick and has very little liquid,

Now add more water to both pots to loosen the stew (the larger one and the smaller one),

Stir well and let it cook for 5 – 10 minutes, make sure that the vegetables are fork tender , also do a taste test and add more salt if you feel it’s necessary.

Turn the heat off and cover until you are ready to serve.  You can also put the heat on low and let it hang out if you don’t plan on serving it for a while.

Keep in mind with sancocho, the longer it sits and as it cools down, it will get thicker.  Also, if you leave the heat on high and let it boil for a long time after the vegetables are fork tender, everything will start to fall apart when it comes time to serve it.

I recommend you serve it with a couple of lime wedges, a slice of avocado and a side of white rice, YUM! 🙂

While making a sancocho is time consuming and laborious, I promise that this stew will knock your taste buds out of their sockets! 🙂

Buen Provecho! 😉