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Recipe courtesy of Monti Carlo


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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 3 hr 25 min
  • Active: 40 min
  • Yield: 6 to 8 servings
Sancocho saved me. I was six years old when I first came to the mainland. I didn’t speak a lick of English and I missed Puerto Rico terribly. I didn’t understand what winter was or why the cold never seemed to go away. My mother would make this hearty stew and it would take me right back to my Abuela’s house in San Juan. Every family has their version of sancocho, some making it with chicken and tripe, others with pork or goat. This one is FROM my Abuela Alicia, WHO LOVED making her sancocho with oxtail. I love making it with oxtail too, but feel free to use chuck or bone-in short ribs. The preparation is relatively simple, but the cooking time is a little over three hours. So be patient and enjoy the way it perfumes your entire household. Trust me; the wait is worth it.



  1. To make the recaito, process the onion, bell pepper, frying pepper, garlic and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a blender until it resembles a very chunky sauce. Add the cilantro and blend until the sauce is combined and has a slightly chunky consistency, about 30 seconds. Set aside 1/2 cup of the recaito you’ve just made and freeze the rest for future preparations.
  2. Add the remaining olive oil to a very large, heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium-high heat. Dry the oxtails and add salt and pepper. Brown the oxtails in batches, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove and set aside on a plate or platter.
  3. Remove excess fat from the pot you browned the oxtails in, leaving about 2 tablespoons in the pot. Add the reserved 1/2 cup recaito and saute until fragrant. Add the adobo, oregano and bay leaves, then stir in the tomato sauce and saute for 1 minute. Add the red wine and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Taste the broth and add salt and pepper to taste, remembering that as the broth reduces it will become saltier; don’t go overboard. Add the oxtails back to the pot. Lower the heat and cover the pot, leaving the lid slightly cracked. Simmer until the meat is beginning to become tender and fall apart, about 2 hours.
  4. Skim the fat off the top of the stew. Add the potatoes, yucca, plantains, pumpkin and corn. Top with more chicken stock, if necessary, to cover all the vegetables. Put the lid back on and simmer until the root vegetables are tender, 30 to 45 minutes.
  5. Taste the broth, season with salt and pepper and garnish with cilantro leaves. Serve with a side of rice if desired.