With apologizes to France, Chile is the most hospitable nation in the world. Actually, I adore the French, but no country tops the warmth and graciousness of the people of Chile. As a clueless gringa, I recall with fondness my first trek to Santiago from Viña del Mar, when I asked a gentleman which train to take. Realizing I was Yankee tourist, he insisted upon paying for my entire transport. I politely protested. The gentleman replied, ‘You are a guest in my country, and it is my wish to host you.’ I recalled the words of Mark Twain, which goes something like: ‘The act of kindness is a language the whole world can understand.’
Porotos Granados is the national dish of Chile. The basic ingredients — pumpkin, cranberry beans, corn and tomatoes — are all indigenous to the New World, pre-dating the arrival of Europeans.
Vegetarians will be delighted to find that there are no meat products in the dish, and that the recipe is heart-healthy and absolutely delicious. A popular summer dish in Chile, you can prepare this recipe year-round, substituting with white or navy beans.
You can also spice it up a bit by using a hot green chili pepper, seeded and minced. Sometimes it is garnished with sweet basil. Keep in mind this is a stew – sometimes called Chilean Bean Stew in English – and like all stews the recipe can vary to your liking. I once devoured the sublime dish with a family who served it with a fried egg on top.
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tablespoons oil
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 cup pumpkin, peeled and cubed (acorn or butternut squash can be substituted)
- 2 cups fresh sweet corn kernels
- 1-2 cups water
- 1 large tomato, chopped
- 2 cups beans – shelled fresh cranberry beans (again, you may substitute with white or navy beans)
- Simmer the fresh cranberry beans gently in water for 30-45 minutes, or until tender. Drain and set aside.
- Heat the oil in a heavy saucepan and add the onions and garlic. Cook until translucent. Add paprika, pumpkin, tomato and corn, stirring until vegetables are soft and fragrant.
- Add 1 cup of water, covered for 5-10 more minutes. Add the beans (and more water if necessary) and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until pumpkin is very soft and begins to fall apart and thicken the stew. Simmer even longer, uncover to thicken the stew, or add more water if a thinner stew is desired.