The original recipe calls for oxtail but since this time I had not stocked up on that, I made do with meat balls from the rundertartaar (pure minced steak with no fat or connecting tissue) I had brought from Amsterdam. I tried to imitate the wonderful sancocho I had indulged in a couple of weeks before that at the Colombian restaurant at Brixton market. It came out beautifully!
So here's the recipe:
- Peel and finely slice half a head and 3 onions. Reserve a few cloves of garlic unsliced.
- Sauté 2 onions and sliced garlic in a squiggle of olive oil until nice golden brown. Add some fish sauce or salt as well as very finely sliced Scotch bonnet pepper towards the end, if you like it spicy.
- In the meantime, put one sliced onion and a whole head garlic in a pot with water (about 2 litres). Add some whole crushed black pepper corns, 2 carrots peeled and cut into small blocks and a stalk of celery, sliced. Add meat at this stage if you are using bones or oxtail. Put on fire, allow to simmer until the meat start coming off the bone.
- Tip 2 into 3. Add the meatballs as well as diced cassava, sweet potato, green plantain, mandioquinha, chayote, garden eggs, or whatever other South American veg you get hold of.
- Simmer until the vegetables are soft enough to eat.
- Serve with chopped spring onions and coriander or parsley.