In Puerto Rico, one is said to be “sancochao” when you’re all hot, burnt and sweaty after a day of stewing in the sun. That sentiment explains the concept of sancocho quite well, i.e. throw a bunch of delicious stuff into a pot and let it stew away. This one-pot wonder is a hearty stew with African and Native Taino influences, as both cultures are integral parts of the cultural makeup of Puerto Rico.
This recipe reminds me of my mom. She’s a fantastic cook, and a stickler for making Puerto Rican food just like her mother and grandmother taught her. I think it drives her nuts when I improvise on her recipes. Sorry mom! Anyhow, when she’s whipping up a Puerto Rican recipe that she hasn’t made in a while, she pulls out her tattered, kitchen-stained copy of Cocine Conmigo, an old school Puerto Rican cookbook that she got as a wedding gift 35 years ago. No pictures, no fluff, just straight up ingredients and instructions, it reads almost like a Bible. I’ve already told her to leave me that book in her last will and testament, I want nothing else.
I took some inspiration from the sancocho recipe in this book, and of course, I added my own spin (mom approved, though!) This sancocho de pollo is the perfect dish to warm your soul for colder days and is a popular meal to make for a large group. Make this next time you’re in the mood for a warm, belly hug of a meal.
What Ingredients Are Used In Puerto Rican Sancocho?
Like any good stew, what goes into varies and everyone has their own favorite recipes. However, what sets sancocho apart from any stew is that it includes Sofrito seasoning and is filled with a variety of tropical root varieties as a starch: green plantain, squash or pumpkin, and at least two of the following: potatoes, Caribbean sweet potatoes (batata and/or ñame), plantains (platanos), yautía (malanga) or yuca (cassava). Corn on the cob and carrots are a popular addition as well. For convenience, I buy frozen pre-chopped frozen sancocho veggies at my local Latin supermarket! Less prep and peeling? Yes, please!
What’s the difference between Puerto Rican and Dominican sancocho?
In Puerto Rico, it’s most commonly made with chicken and beef, sometimes pork. In the Dominican Republic, there are usually 7 different meats used in sancocho: beef goat, pork sausage, pork stew meat, chicken, pork ribs and smoked ham bones. And these aren’t the only countries that make this dish! Many Latin countries that border the Caribbean sea make a version of sancocho. Panama has sancocho de gallina, Venezuela has hervido and Colombia has sancocho trifásico.
What to serve with sancocho?
The beauty of sancocho is that it’s literally a one pot meal. You have protein, carbs and veggies all in one dish! You can serve it all on its own, or with traditional side dishes like white rice (arroz blanco), ripe avocado (aguacate) and tostones (fried plantains).
Want more Caribbean-inspired stew recipes?
- Pollo Guisado (Puerto Rican Chicken Stew) Includes Slow Cooker Version!
- Carne Guisada (Puerto Rican Beef Stew)
- Puerto Rican Pollo Fricase (Chicken Fricassee)
- Bacalao Guisado (Stewed Cod Fish)
- Slow Cooker Ropa Vieja (Cuban Shredded Beef Stew)
- Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken
Sancocho De Pollo (Puerto Rican Chicken Stew)
- 1 tbsp olive oil or achiote oil
- 1/2 cup diced ham or smoked sausage (optional)
- 2 lbs bone-in chicken legs and/or thighs can sub with boneless chicken thighs, cut into large chunks
- 1/2 cup no salt tomato sauce
- 8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 3/4 lb yautia (malanga) and/or yuca (cassava) root peeled and cut into large chunks
- 3/4 lb ñame (Caribbean yam) peeled and cut into large chunks
- 2 large green plantains peeled and cut into 1 inch discs
- 1/2 lb calabasa kabocha squash, peeled and cut into large chunks
- 2-3 ears of corn cut into 2 inch discs
- 8 sprigs culantro or cilantro
- 3 dried bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon powdered chicken bouillon or more to taste
- ripe avocado for serving
- white rice for serving
Place the diced chicken into a bowl and pour the sofrito and Sazon seasoning over it. Mix to combine and set aside.
Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, then add oil and diced ham/sausage.
Cook for 2 minutes, then add chicken/sofrito mixture into the pot.
Saute for 4-5 minutes, then add the tomato sauce and chicken broth.
Bring the mixture to a boil, then add the yautia, ñame, yuca, green plantains, chicken bouillon, culantro/cilantro and bay leaves. Reserve the pumpkin/squash and corn.
Cover the sancocho and simmer for 30-40 minutes, until the root vegetables become tender.
Add the pumpkin and corn and cook for 20 minutes more.
Check for seasoning, the sancocho should be thick and creamy. If not, mash a few of the root veggies into the stew.
Serve with sliced avocado and white rice
If desired, you can make plantain dumplings for your sancocho. Remove the cooked plantains from the sancocho. Mash the cooked plantains with a pilon or potato masher until smooth. Grab about 2 tablespoons of the mashed plantain (will be hot), and form it into a ball with your hands. Continue with the rest of the mashed plantain mixture. Drop the plantain balls back into the sancocho.