Charquicán: A Taste of Chile’s Best Dishes

November 29, 2023

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The Roots of Charquicán in Chilean Cuisine

Charquicán, a traditional Chilean dish, carries a rich history. Its origins lie with the indigenous peoples of Chile, particularly the Mapuche, who created a simple yet nourishing meal that could sustain them through the harsh Andean winters. Consequently, this meal has become a staple in Chilean cuisine, connecting the past with the present through its enduring popularity and significance.

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From Survival Food to Culinary Staple

Originally, Charquicán was a simple dish made from dried meat (charqui), potatoes, and whatever vegetables were available. The Mapuche, skilled in preserving meat by drying and salting, used this technique to create charqui – the namesake and key ingredient of this hearty stew. Over time, as the Spanish arrived and the cultural exchange began, Charquicán evolved, integrating new ingredients like beef and pumpkin, reflecting the blending of indigenous and European culinary traditions.

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The Impact of Charquicán on Chilean Cuisine

Charquicán’s impact on Chilean cuisine is profound. It highlights the use of local ingredients and the importance of food preservation methods passed down through generations. It’s a dish that tells a story – of resilience, cultural fusion, and the adaptability of Chilean cooking. Chefs across Chile and beyond continue to experiment with Charquicán, adding their twists and celebrating its humble origins while elevating it to new culinary heights.

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A Dish That Embodies Chilean History

Charquicán is a part of Chile’s culinary history. It’s simple, rustic roots and rich, flavourful presence on the modern Chilean table encapsulate the country’s journey from its indigenous beginnings to its current cultural tapestry. Whether enjoyed in a cozy family kitchen or a high-end restaurant, Charquicán remains a beloved emblem of Chilean heritage and culinary ingenuity.

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Our Version of Charquicán (The instructions are in the video below)

Ingredients (3-4 people):

  • 1 tablespoon oil (we used vegetable oil)
  • 1 medium sized onion (diced)
  • 3 cloves of garlic (chopped)
  • 30 gr of pork rinds
  • 250 gr of minced meat (We used half beef/half pork)
  • 1 teaspoon ground paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 medium sized carrot (diced)
  • 1 stick of celery (diced)
  • 2 to 3 stems of fresh parsley
  • 200 gr potatoes (cut in cubes)
  • 200 gr pumpkin (cut in cubes)
  • small diced green pepper
  • small diced bell pepper
  • 100 gr of steamed peas
  • 100 gr of steamed corn
  • Salt and pepper to taste (We used Merquen but you can use Cayenne pepper for a little heat)

As you will see in the video, we prepared a simple salad consisting in two small diced tomatoes, sliced small red onion, olive oil and salt. This salad is the perfect companion to this delicious dish.


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