good food + awesome travel & occasional odd bits

Locro

We are in for a treat. Today’s post comes to you from K in which he shares how loco for locro he was. After some tweaking, we have nailed down a recipe that works for us. It’s hearty, comforting, and delicious.

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Two times. That was the number of times I had to visit Quito in one year. Quito is the capital of Ecuador and is mostly known as the jump off point for folks on their way to the Galapagos to see the Piqueros de Patas Azules or as we all know them here, the Blue Footed Booby. I enjoyed going to Quito, it was a wierd and dull place. I probably could’ve done a bit more exploring but with non stop work for which I was there to do, most of my exploring took place┬áduring dinner time and on a few friday nights.

What made the biggest impression on me was that every restaurant, cafe, home and probably gas station served a bowl of locro which is basically a stew. And in Quito, the most common Locro is made with potato and I could not get enough of it; that was however, till I’d absolutely had enough and I couldn’t stand it. It seemed like Locro was on every menu in every hole in the wall and after I’d paid the exit fee at the airport to leave the country I was happy that I wouldnt be eating Locro any time soon.

And I was right, its been probably eight years or so since those trips and in that time I’ve grown to miss Locro. I’d try to to explain to S how flavorful the worlds most boring stew was and I finally just had to break down and show her. Locro is simple, potatoes, onions, cumin, water, soft fresh cheese, a hit of milk and some small cubes of avocado and there it is. An Ecuadorian classic.

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Locro

Yield: 8 servings

2 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon achiote paste

1 large onion, medium dice

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 teaspoons cumin

2 teaspoons salt

3 teaspoons aji paste

3 russet potatoes, peeled and cut in large chunks (6 pieces per potato are ideal)

6 cups water

1 cup milk

Garnish:

chopped cilantro

queso fresco

green onion, sliced thin

In a large stockpot (8 quart), over medium heat, melt the butter and add achiote paste. Stir to combine, breaking up the achiote paste to smooth out. Add onion, garlic, cumin, salt and cook until onion becomes translucent. Add aji paste, stir to combine. Add potatoes, mix well and add water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20- 25 minutes until potatoes are just tender enough to mash. As soon as potatoes begin to soften, gently mash some of the potatoes with a potato masher, leaving some larger chunks and some mashed smaller. The goal here is to get about 1/3 of the potatoes mashed semi-fine, 1/3 small chunks, and the final 1/3 left in larger pieces. Stir in the milk and let simmer for 5 minutes before serving.

Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with chopped cilantro, queso fresco, and green onion.

*Usually, avocado is used to garnish the soup and in instead of chopped cilantro, its culantro which is not readily available unless you grow your own. Cilantro is the closest substitute we could find.

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