Tuesday, March 13, 2007

"The Art of South American Cookery" by Myra Waldo - South American Beef-Vegetable Stew

Date I made this recipe: March 10, 2007

The Art of South American Cookery by Myra Waldo
Published by: Doubleday & Company, Inc.
Illustrated by John Alcorn
© 1961

Recipe: Beef-Vegetable Stew (“Locro”) – p. 97

President Bush is visiting Latin America (also known as South America). This fact is neither here nor there; I mention it only because it reminded me of a recent acquisition to my cookbook library.

I scored The Art of South American Cookery at Bonnie Slotnicks Cookbooks, my home away from home in Manhattan and the source of many a unique book for my collection.

This book caught my eye for several reasons. First, there's the cover art. Like so many books published in the 1940's and 50's, both the cover and chapter artwork were done by an illustrator, as opposed to photography which is so prevelant today. The illustrator, John Alcorn, was, according to his bio, primarily a children’s book illustrator yet a peek at his portfolio on the web shows a few cookbooks here and there. At any rate, I thought it was a pretty cover so I put it in my “to buy” pile. (By the way, my buying process is always the same at Bonnie’s: I start to my right, wind my way around the whole shop and end up with a stack of books for further consideration. After that, I get out my calculator and then (almost always) subtract books and their purchase price until I hit both my budgetary goal (a term I use loosely) and my goal for unique books that are hard to find elsewhere. Consultation with Bonnie is usually advised although she knows me well enough to know my weak points and that’s not always a good thing!)

The book also caught my eye because it was written by Myra Waldo. Myra Waldo cranked out a lot of cookbooks in her day including the apparently popular Cooking for the Freezer. If the Food Network had been around while she was writing, she would likely have been as popular as Ina Garten, Giada DeLaurentiis and Paula Deen, all of whom have written several cookbooks. Since I liked the artwork and I liked Myra the book stayed in the buying pile.

The recipe I ended up selecting, Beef-Vegetable Stew (known as “Locro” in Spanish) doesn’t exactly sound South American but when I Googled it, I found it actually dated back to colonial times and is popular in Argentina, Chile, Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador. The write-up also said that the stew tends to contain “lesser” meats such as organ meats, pig’s ears, intestines and the like. Well people, why use “lesser” meats when you can use quality meats? I mean sure, I could have stuck to tradition, but my checkbook and my stomach pretty much demanded I go for the gusto and eschew the use of a lesser meat in favor of very nice beef stew meat. I think you’ll agree after you make the recipe that this is indeed the way to go!

Although this recipe says the stew should be thick, I was very thankful that it wasn’t. "Thick" to me means "heavy" and given yet another wild “winter day” when the temperature hovered around 50 degrees, heavy wasn’t what I wanted. (If you blink around here, you miss: one week, we’re getting 12 inches of snow, the next week, it’s all melting and the temperatures are approaching a Minnesotan’s version of “bathing suit weather.” Go figure.)

So, despite the unseasonably warm weather, I made this surprisingly light stew and imagined life in sunny South America, far away from the midwestern snow belt...and people, it was blissful. This recipe almost made me want to pack a bag to go after the real deal, the original locro, but alas, 'twas not to be. Maybe next year when instead of rising temperatures and melting snow banks, we're experiencing blowing and drifting snow. That would make the trip all the more worthwhile, don't you think?!

Beef-Vegetable Stew (“Locro”) – serves 4-6
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds beef, cut in 1-inch cubes
¾ cup chopped onions
¾ cup chopped green peppers
3 cups water
1 ½ cups cubed yellow squash
1 ½ cups cubed white potatoes
1 ½ cup cubed sweet potatoes
1 cup corn kernels
1 cup sliced onion
2 ½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons minced parsley (optional)

Heat the oil in a casserole or Dutch oven; brown the meat in it. Mix in the onions and green peppers until browned. Add the water, squash, white potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, carrots, salt and pepper. Cover and cook over low heat for 2 ½ hours. The stew should be very thick; add a very little boiling water if necessary. Taste for seasonings and sprinkle with the parsley. Garnish with fried onions and green peppers if desired. Serves 4-6.

1 comment:

~~louise~~ said...

Hi Ann,
Excuse me while I "gush." I am absolutely delighted to have "bumped" into your blog today.

It came about while I was in search of this recipe for Locro. I'm celebrating United nations Day on my blog on Saturday with a few recipes from a cookbook titled Favorite Recipes from the United Nations I wanted to find out a little history about the dish before posting and lo and behold, along came you with this terrific post!!!

You see, I too am a cookbook collector and I share my cookbooks on my blog much the same way you do. Nice to "meet" you Ann:)

I hope you don't mind if I include this link in my post. I'd also like to add your link to my blogroll, if that's okay with you?

P.S. I LOVE Bonnie's store!!! and Kitchen Arts & Letters.