Locro, taking wing

Locro

Buenos Aires Herald
On Sunday supplement
Food and Wine

We’ve heard it all before. We’ve been bombarded by news and websites and tweets and posts. We’ve been China Studied and Eating-ed Animals until we’re ready to crawl into a box with a milk fed calf and join in. And the truth is, we’re really not that interested. It’s not that we don’t want to live longer and healthier lives, we’re just not going to live them out of a salad bowl filled with fair trade, hand-picked greens harvested by indigenous people living down the block, growing plants with their own family’s waste products.

Because while dining as a locavore/herbivore may be dandy for all the folk who just “eat to live” and imagine their lifespans stretching into eternity while day trading, some of us “live to eat” and prefer to imagine a significantly shorter mortal coil while indulging in mouth-watering treats. And we’re not fooled by “it has the taste and texture of” adverts, because the only people who truly believe that are ones who never had the original, and likely are the same ones who keep infomercials doing brisk business offering shoes that guarantee to take off 20 kilos within 17 minutes.

We know there needs to be some balance, and we’ve already added in the shared salad, switched from fries to mashed, and gone for the half entraZa instead of the kilo lomo. And while I’m not here to convince you I can take a traditional, artery stopping recipe, flip it around so it can get a cute little heart symbol tacked on, and have it “taste just like the original”, I am convinced we can make a delicious version of a classic dish or three that might not add another layer of plaque to our carotids. Why not start by lightening up a classic locro stew for summer?

1 cup dried white corn
2 ears of fresh yellow corn, cut the kernels off the cobs
2 medium white onions, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, sliced
2 1-cm thick slices of smoked turkey breast, cubed
4 chicken thighs
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon hot paprika
½ teaspoon of ground black pepper
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
½ butternut (anco) squash, peeled and diced small
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced small
1 large potato, peeled and diced small
2 plum tomatoes, cut in small wedges
salt
2 tablespoons olive oil

Soak the dried corn in water overnight. In a large pot, cook the onions and garlic in the olive oil over medium heat until they’re soft. Add in the meats, fresh corn, cumin, paprikas, bay leaves, liquid smoke, black pepper and a large pinch of smoked salt and continue cooking for ten minutes. Add the vegetables and soaked corn kernels, water and all, and add water to a level 5cm above the level of the ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to lowest setting, cover and simmer for 2 hours. Every 20 minutes or so give it all a stir. Fish out the four chicken thighs, you can leave them whole or remove the meat from the bones and shred it. Use a wooden spoon or spatula and press the vegetables against the side of the pot, working your way around until about a quarter of it is mashed up and thickens the soup. Add smoked salt to taste. Add the chicken back in if you’ve shredded it, otherwise just put one thigh in each serving bowl – ladle the soup into the bowls. Add fresh chopped chilies if you like it spicier. Serves 4 as a full dinner.

A series of recipes and articles that I started writing for the Buenos Aires Herald Sunday supplement, Food & Wine section, at the beginning of 2012. My original proposal to them was to take local favorite dishes and classics and lighten them up for modern day sensibilities. We’re not talking spa or diet recipes, but at the very least, making them healthier in content, particularly salt, fat and portion size. As time went by, that morphed into a recipe column that, while emphasizing food that is relatively “good for you”, wasn’t necessarily focused on local cuisine. At the beginning of 2013 I decided to stop writing for them over some administrative issues, but it was fun while it lasted.

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