Comida Porteño: Locro (Bean and Hominy Stew)


Dear Readers– Lo siento, we got a little ahead of ourselves with last week’s dessert, alfajores.  Skipped over several more savory courses.  We’re back this week with Locro. Don’t worry, there will be more dessert to come!

In the words of Chef Chris:

Locro (bean and hominy stew) is a traditional stew throughout the Andes regions of South America often made with squash, beans, corn/hominy and meat including bacon and chorizo. It is considered a Argentine national dish and often served on the anniversary of the May Revolution. It is thick and rich and we thought that is had similarities to chili. We had locro at Cumaña, a restaurant in Buenos Aires popular with locals. It was a bit heavy but would be great on a chilly winter evening.

We tried to recreate the locro we had in Buenos Aires and found many of the ingredients at a local grocery in the Mission district in San Francisco, CA. We used canned hominy and beans (brand: Goya).

Argentine Locro

Adapted from recipe in Seashells and Sunflowers, which had adapted a recipe by Dan Perlman in his blog Saltshaker. Since we have been on a recent slow cooker kick we made some adjustments accordingly then at the end we simmered the entire stew on low heat for an additional few hours to reduce the sauce and bring out the rich, smoky flavors.

Serves 8


2 tbs. olive oil

3/4 cup white corn (hominy)

3/4 cup white navy beans

1/2 cup chick peas

2 medium onions, coarsely chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

4 oz.  pancetta, cubed

2 oz. chorizo, uncooked

1/2 lb. pork shoulder, cut into 2 inch pieces

2 ears of fresh yellow sweet corn, cut the kernels off the cobs

14 oz. crushed tomatoes

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 tbs. paprika

salt to taste

½ tsp. freshly-ground black pepper

1/2  cup sweet potato or butternut squash (or both), peeled and diced small

chopped green onion for garnish (optional)

chili oil (see directions below)

crème fraiche topping (optional)


Prepare the chili oil in advance by soaking a teaspoon of ají molido (or crushed red pepper flakes) in a tablespoon of olive oil for 2-3 hours.

In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute onions until they start to become translucent. Reduce heat and add chorizo and garlic until cooked through. Add cumin and paprika and cook for 1-2 minutes. Transfer everything to slow cooker. In separate saucepan, cook pancetta until well done and crispy. Drain fat and transfer to slow cooker. Add pork shoulder.

Drain and rinse hominy, beans and chick peas. Transfer to slow cooker. Stir in the sweet potato/squash, crushed tomatoes, salt and pepper.  Cook on low for 8-9 hours. Add fresh corn for last 30 minutes.

We then transferred everything into large pot to simmer at low heat. Stir and mash the starchy vegetables using the back of a wide spoon or spatula, press the ingredients up against the sides of the pot so they break down into the soup. As you continue to stir and mash the soup should gradually thicken. Continue until the locro reaches the rich consistency of a stew. Add salt to taste.

Serve in bowls, and garnish with green onions and a touch of chili oil. We also topped off with a dollop of crème fraiche mixed with lemon juice to lighten the heaviness and add a bit of tangy goodness (a la sour cream on chili).

This post is part of the second Spicebox Supperclub, the Comida Porteño con Sabor Latino, celebrating the food and drink of Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Comida Porteño: Yerba Mate


We left you wondering in the previous two posts, what is this yerba mate all about? Your wait is over.  This is the traditional way of beginning a meal in Argentina, a gathering of friends around a shared gourd of brewed yerba mate.  Chris and Diana brought back a large bag of prepared (cleaned, “sin palo” (“without sticks”)) yerba mate from Argentina,

yerba mate pack

along with a beautiful ceramic gourd and a traditional stainless steel straw (bombilla), which we passed around and took sips  until the brew was too bitter.mate bowl and strawIt had a pleasing, grassy, green tea-like taste, and was a nice way of centering ourselves before sitting down to dinner.

Chris did a little more research into the drinking of yerba mate and shared it with us:

  1. Get yerba mate. While in BA we brought home a bag we purchased from a local grocery store. Yerba mate seems to be available everywhere and can be found in any convenience or grocery store. The yerba mate section was impressive, taking up a good portion of an entire aisle with many different brands, sizes and styles (similar to a coffee section at a grocery store in the US. As “novices”, we were told to get yerba mate sin palo (without sticks) which only contains the leaves and is less bitter. We bought the smallest bag (500g) by brand Taragui. Note: we were told to put in our checked luggage on our flight home so that we wouldn’t get hassled by security or customs given its similar appearance to a certain illegal green leafy plant.
  2. Get gourd (also called a mate). Traditionally, this is a hollowed out gourd but also saw many different types including more modern styles. We purchased a contemporary ceramic mate from a local store called Nobrand that also sells hip T-shirts with cool graphic prints.
  3. Get bombilla (pronounced bom-bee-ja) which is the special metal straw used for drinking the mate. It has a bulbous end with tiny holes that acts as a filter to keep you from sucking up the leaves.

Preparation adapted from WikiHow.

Mate (pronounced mah-teh) is a drink made by steeping dried leaves from the yerba mate plant in hot water. It was the Guarani Indians of South America who first discovered the rejuvenating qualities of yerba mate and now it’s enjoyed in Uruguay, Paraguay, Argentina, parts of Brazil, Chile, eastern Bolivia, Lebanon, Syria and Turkey. It tastes somewhat like green tea, with hints of tobacco and oak.

A gourd being used for the first time should be cured, or else the first few drinks from it might be a little on the bitter side. Curing removes the soft inner tissues of the gourd and “seasons” the inside with the flavor of mate. Fill the gourd with boiling water almost to the metal rim (or to the top if there is no metal rim) and let it sit for 10 minutes. Then softly scrape the membrane out of the gourd with a metal spoon under running water (but do not remove the stem in the center). Finally, put the cleaned-out gourd in the sunlight for a day or two until it is completely dry.]

  1. Pack the dry, loose yerba mate into the gourd just over half full.
  2. Place your hand on the top of the half-filled gourd and turn it upside-down. Shake the more powdery leaves to the top of the gourd with several flicks of the wrist. This helps to ensure that you don’t suck in the powdery leaves through the bombilla later. Repeat as needed.
  3. Insert the bombilla into the gourd so that the tip is at the bottom.
  4. Pour in hot water. (Some sites tell you to start with cold water first to soak the leaves but we went with the faster version and just started with hot). Pour in enough water just up to the level of the leaves. It is important to use hot water (70–80 °C, 160–180 °F) but not boiling, as boiling water will make the mate bitter.
  5. Drink from the bombilla. We were told that you are not supposed to touch the bombilla (except with your lips of course!)
    1. Newcomers to mate tend to jiggle the bombilla and stir the herb. Resist this temptation, or you’ll end up clogging the bombilla. Drink the entire mate when it’s handed to you, don’t just take a small sip and pass it back. You should hear a sound similar to when drinking soda with straw.
    2. In a group, the first brew is traditionally taken by the person who prepares the mate. If you are the server, drink the mate until there is no water left, then refill the gourd with hot water and pass it to the next person, sharing the same bombilla. Keep refilling the gourd as it’s passed around (one brew per person) until it loses its flavor (called lavado in Spanish, because the flavor is “washed out”); it should take ten refills, more or less (depending on the quality of the mate). To signal that you don’t want any more mate, give thanks to “el cebador” (the server). Remember only to give thanks after your last mate. Once you give thanks it will be understood that you do not want anymore.

Additional info and tips (via WikiHow)

  1. In Argentina, mate is also sold in teabag form (called mate cocido) so it can be steeped like other teas (but still not in boiling water).
  2. You can also treat the yerba mate like any other loose tea; steep it in hot water (the amount depends on how strong you want it to be, you’ll need to experiment) and then filter out the leaves before drinking.
  3. If you have a coffee french press, you can prepare the mate with it.
  4. You can also make mate in a standard automatic coffee maker. Just put the mate where you would normally put the coffee grounds.
  5. In some parts of South America, the peel of citrus fruits (especially oranges) is added to the herb, or, alternatively, it is brewed with nearly scalded milk.
  6. For a sweeter drink, you can add some sugar or honey to the gourd before pouring in the hot water.
  7. You can also add Fresh Mint leaves, or other aromatic plants directly in the water.
  8. In the summer, try making “tereré” by replacing the hot water with ice-cold water or lemonade. For tereré, it is better to use a small metal cup or mason jar instead of a gourd.
  9. You can also add Chamomile (Egyptian has strong taste), Mint leaves, Star Anise in the Yerba Mate.
  10. Mate contains caffeine; though generally less than tea and coffee.

This post is part of the second Spicebox Supperclub, the Comida Porteño con Sabor Latino, celebrating the food and drink of Buenos Aires, Argentina.  Come back next week for (finally) some food– empanadas!