Daniel Joelson, author of Chilenismos and Tasting Chile, is with us today to share a hearty traditional recipe perfect for holiday gatherings. Daniel writes:
My wife and I are excitedly packing our bags for a trip in late December to beautiful Chile, where we will bask in the sun and celebrate the New Year with fireworks on the beach as the Southern Hemisphere’s summer explodes into full swing.
But first, we need to cook some good old-fashioned Chilean comfort food as we try to keep bodies warm and bellies happy in frosty Washington, DC. With family and friends soon to descend upon our home for the holidays, we have started to arm ourselves to the hilt with a wonderful array of shellfish and different types and cuts of meats. All of these will come together so that we can titillate our guests with one of Chile’s national gastronomic treasures, the Curanto, which is typically eaten during the wintry months at big family get-togethers and for special occasions.
The most traditional version of Curanto is prepared over hot rocks in a burning pit in the ground. In fact, curantu means “abundance of rocks” in Mapudungun, the language of Chile’s indigenous Mapuche peoples. However, for the Curanto recipe below, rather than digging up a big hole in your backyard and charging it with heat, you only need a large pot and a stove. With the hearty flavors and the rich pork in this dish I like a Cabernet Sauvignon or a Syrah, which can stand up to the mighty Curanto.
Curanto en Olla (Pork and Shellfish Stew)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 chicken (1 1/2 to 2 pounds), cut into 4 pieces
1 pound pork chops (about 3 medium chops), cut into several pieces
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
12 ounces semi-spicy sausage, cut into 2 inch pieces
1 small onion, finely chopped into thin 1 inch strips
1 medium carrot, peeled and grated
1 small red bell pepper, finely chopped; or half red pepper and half green pepper
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh celery leaves
2 cups white wine
8 mussels, in their shells, cleaned and scrubbed
8 littleneck clams, in their shells, cleaned and scrubbed
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
- Sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides of the chicken and pork chops. Heat half of the oil in a pot over a medium flame. When hot, add the chicken pieces and lightly brown them on both sides. Remove the chicken from the pan and lightly brown the pork slices on both sides. Remove the pork and then brown the sausages on both sides.
- Remove most of the fat from the pot, reserving 2 to 3 tablespoons, return the chicken, pork, and sausages to the pot and add the onion, carrot, bell pepper, garlic, celery leaves, 1 cup of water, and ¼ cup of the wine.
- Cook, covered, over medium-low heat, shaking the pot, and adding a bit of wine every few minutes for a total of 20 minutes. Gradually add 1 ¾ cup more wine and ½ cup more water.
- Add the mussels, clams, and parsley, continuing to mix. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve in a large bowl or casserole dish. Provide your guests with both a bowl and a plate so they can cut the meat.
Daniel Joelson is author of Hippocrene’s Tasting Chile: A Celebration of Authentic Chilean Foods and Wines