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What Is Puchero?

By Liz Thomas
Updated May 16, 2024
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Puchero is a stew that is made most commonly in Spain, Uruguay, Colombia, Argentina and the Philippines. The translation of the name is "stewpot," a reference to the large, clay pot in which the stew originally was cooked. Puchero is considered a type of peasant food, and the ingredients differ depending on the location. The stew traditionally is eaten over several days, each day accompanied by a different side dish. It also can be broken down into several courses.

This dish's long list of possible ingredients includes several kinds of meat — sliced ham, pork ribs, bacon, chicken, veal and beef. It also includes vegetables such as potatoes, chickpeas, turnips, carrots, squash, celery and cabbage, as well as salt, noodles and rice. The actual contents of the stew, however, depend on what items are available and the cook’s origins and personal preferences. Puchero from Paraguay, Uruguay or Argentina is quite different from the stew made in Spain. Other options for main ingredients include chorizo, eggs, sweet potatoes, onions and sweet corn.

The cooking time for puchero varies and depends on the ingredients. The stew generally is allowed to simmer for several hours. Some ingredients, such as dried chickpeas, might benefit from being cooked separately. This reduces the total cooking time of the stew.

Puchero can be eaten as one dish or separated into three courses. The first course consists of the broth or caldo, which is the soup course. Caldo typically is served with salsa, sliced avocado, cilantro or onions, if they are available. In place of soup, an egg might be added to the broth to create a consommé.

The next course consists of the stewed vegetables served on a platter. This is followed by a platter of the stewed meat. No matter how the stew is served, it usually is accompanied by rice, noodles or warm tortillas. The courses also can be served over several nights — the soup on the first night, the vegetables on the second night and the meat on the third night.

This dish originates from Spain. As the Spanish explored the globe, the stew went with the explorers. The traditional Spanish recipe was changed and altered to fit the local produce and tastes. In fact, recipes can even vary between households, because cooks will have their own variations.

Puchero is quite thick and hearty, so it traditionally is served during cooler weather. It is a staple of the middle and lower classes and is not associated with the higher class. Therefore, this dish is frequently served in regional and family oriented restaurants and not in gourmet restaurants.

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