Locro is a traditional South American food popular in the countries that lie along the Cordillera of the Andes Mountains. It can be compared to a thick stew or chili. The name comes from the Incan language, Quecha, and is a particularly popular dish in Ecuador and Argentina. In these countries, this stew is not only a food, but also a custom. It was eaten by native peoples of South America previous to the time of Spanish colonization, and continues to be a popular customary dish as of the 21st century.
In Argentina, for example, locro is consumed during “fiestas patrias,” or patriotic holidays. Since it is served hot, it's usually eaten during the winter months. Another reason this dish is a traditionally wintertime food may be that it is particularly high in calories and nutrients. Thus, in areas where winters are cold enough to affect the availability of food, it can be a particularly rich source of nutrition.
The typical Argentine locro is based with corn and white beans. Some kind of meat is almost always present in this version, and usually the cut used includes the bones, which one must eat around when the dish is served. Other common ingredients include sausage and other vegetables, and the liquid part is usually made from a thinned puree of squash.
Locro is typically served with bread, and may also be served with a spicy sauce such as chimichurri or quiquirimichi. Although there are a number of recipes, the dish is always vegetable-based. Much like a stew, the key to preparing it is to cook it slowly over low heat for an extended period of time. The most common style is the dense, ingredient-packed version called “locro pulsudo.” Stew that is prepared with a more thin, light, soup-like consistency is called “huaschalocro,” or “locro pobre,” meaning “poor locro.”
One variation is locro de papa, or potato locro. This dish may be made using potato as the puree base of the stew, or as a solid ingredient, like the corn and beans in traditional recipe. Other ingredients that may be included are pancetta, onions, wheat, corn starch, cream, vegetables, and any number of the various cuts of meat that are typically consumed in South American countries. Nearly every region along the Cordillera of the Andes may have its own variation on the recipe.