Soups are surprisingly common in Costa Rica, and the most traditional ones are served hot. Nearly all Nuevo Latino fusion varieties are cold. Olla de Carne is one of three typical weekend specials. It’s a delicious root vegetable and bone-in beef chunk stew. The starches and veggies are potatoes, carrots, camote (sweet potato), chayote (green pear-shaped squash), plantain, tiquisque (purple skinned starchy root), and cassava.
Here’s the secret ingredients list & preparation from Tatiana Coto, a local food-stylist whose famous recipes are now compiled on her book “Costa Rica: The Best Recipes”.
Olla de Carne – Beef and vegetable stew
450 grams (1 lb.) beef ribs
680 grams (1 ½ lb) beef brisket
1 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 stalks celery, chopped
230 grams (1 cup) cilantro, chopped
1 head of garlic, chopped
1 T oregano, dried
1 T thyme, dried
salt and pepper to taste
1 young chayote (green pear-shaped squash)
3 potatoes, 2 carrots
2 sweet potatoes
2 ears of corn, white and/or yellow
450 grams (2 cups)cassava
3 guineos (smaller specie of plantains)
2 tiquisques (purple skinned starchy root)
1 green plantain
230 grams (1 cup) squash, well ripped
Cook all the ingredients together (except the vegetables) in a pressure cooker on high. Cook for 30 minutes after the cooker starts steaming and lower the heat
Peel and chop the vegetables into pieces. Cook the vegetables together in salted water until tender, except the chayote and squash
Mix the meat with all of the vegetables and continue to cook until all the ingredients are tender.
Our special note:
Olla de carne literally means a pot of meat. The cook loads up with whatever combination of the vegetables available above. We ticos usually go to the market saturday morning to get the roots, especially ñampi and tiquisque – which are pink and purple skinned. If we were making this dish in North America, we would substitute turnip and parsnip for these two roots.You can probably find cassava and plantains at Latino markets. The trick is use large chunks of peeled roots, to add them sequentially so that none fall apart and to simmer gently until the meat and vegetables are soft. Olla de carne is served in soup bowls with white rice on the side, or a plate alongside the rice, with a separate bowl of broth.