My glorious and superlative Citizens! As those amongst you who have faithfully attended My gustatory sermons from the Mount are well aware, I have striven to include at least one recipe from every country on this glorious blue dot in the heavens! I thought My Herculean labor in this regard to be long past…but I realized there are still a few left to go in My quest for bookish completion – and that includes the unimaginable oversight of leaving off the Dominican Republic and their delectable national dish of locrio!
THIS CRISIS MUST BE ADDRESSED WITH CERTAINTY, FINALITY AND IMMEDIACY! If you enjoy rice, poultry, sausage, olives, capers and mixed vegetables in an herbaceous, spicy and delectable casserole – this is about to become your new favorite, easy-to-make version of said meal!
The Dominican Republic is a country located on the island of Hispaniola in the Greater Antilles archipelago of the Caribbean region. It occupies the eastern five-eighths of the island, which it shares with Haiti, making Hispaniola one of only two Caribbean islands, along with Saint Martin, that is shared by two sovereign states.
The Dominican Republic is the second-largest nation in the Antilles by area (after Cuba) at 48,671 square kilometers (18,792 sq mi), and third-largest by population, with approximately 10.7 million people (2022 est.), down from 10.8 million in 2020, of whom approximately 3.3 million live in the metropolitan area of Santo Domingo, the capital city. The official language of the country is Spanish.
The native Taíno people had inhabited Hispaniola before the arrival of Europeans, dividing it into five chiefdoms. They had constructed an advanced farming and hunting society, and were in the process of becoming an organized civilization. The Taínos also inhabited Cuba, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, and the Bahamas. The Genoese mariner Christopher Columbus explored and claimed the island for Castile, landing there on his first voyage in 1492.
The colony of Santo Domingo became the site of the first permanent European settlement in the Americas and the first seat of Spanish colonial rule in the New World. It would also become the site to introduce importations of enslaved Africans to the Americas. In 1697, Spain recognized French dominion over the western third of the island, which became the independent state of Haiti in 1804.
After more than three hundred years of Spanish rule, the Dominican people declared independence in November 1821. The leader of the independence movement, José Núñez de Cáceres, intended the Dominican nation to unite with the country of Gran Colombia, but the newly independent Dominicans were forcefully annexed by Haiti in February 1822. Independence came 22 years later in 1844, after victory in the Dominican War of Independence.
Over the next 72 years, the Dominican Republic experienced mostly civil wars (financed with loans from European merchants), several failed invasions by its neighbor, Haiti, and brief return to Spanish colonial status, before permanently ousting the Spanish during the Dominican War of Restoration of 1863–1865. During this period, three presidents were assassinated (José Antonio Salcedo in 1864, Ulises Heureaux in 1899, and Ramón Cáceres in 1911).
The U.S. occupied the Dominican Republic (1916–1924) due to threats of defaulting on foreign debts; a subsequent calm and prosperous six-year period under Horacio Vásquez followed. From 1930 the dictatorship of Rafael Leónidas Trujillo ruled until his assassination in 1961. Juan Bosch was elected president in 1962 but was deposed in a military coup in 1963. A civil war in 1965, the country’s last, was ended by U.S. military intervention and was followed by the authoritarian rule of Joaquín Balaguer (1966–1978 and 1986–1996).
Since 1978, the Dominican Republic has moved toward representative democracy, and has been led by Leonel Fernández for most of the time after 1996. Danilo Medina succeeded Fernández in 2012, winning 51% of the electoral vote over his opponent ex-president Hipólito Mejía. He was later succeeded by Luis Abinader in the 2020 presidential election after anti-government protests erupted that year.
The Dominican Republic has the largest economy (according to the U.S. State Department and the World Bank) in the Caribbean and Central American region and is the seventh-largest economy in Latin America. Over the last 25 years, the Dominican Republic has had the fastest-growing economy in the Western Hemisphere – with an average real GDP growth rate of 5.3% between 1992 and 2018. GDP growth in 2014 and 2015 reached 7.3 and 7.0%, respectively, the highest in the Western Hemisphere.
The Dominican Republic is the most visited destination in the Caribbean. The year-round golf courses and resorts are major attractions. A geographically diverse nation, the Dominican Republic is home to both the Caribbean’s tallest mountain peak, Pico Duarte, and the Caribbean’s largest lake and lowest point, Lake Enriquillo.
The island has an average temperature of 26 °C (78.8 °F) and great climatic and biological diversity. The country is also the site of the first cathedral, castle, monastery, and fortress built in the Americas, located in Santo Domingo’s Colonial Zone, a World Heritage Site. The Dominican Republic is highly vulnerable to natural disasters.
The name Dominican originates from Santo Domingo de Guzmán (Saint Dominic), the patron saint of astronomers, and founder of the Dominican Order. The Dominican Order established a house of high studies on the colony of Santo Domingo that is now known as the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo, the first University in the New World. They dedicated themselves to the education of the inhabitants of the island, and to the protection of the native Taíno people who were subjected to slavery.
For most of its history, up until independence, the colony was known simply as Santo Domingo – the name of its present capital and patron saint, Saint Dominic – and continued to be commonly known as such in English until the early 20th century. The residents were called “Dominicans” (Dominicanos), the adjectival form of “Domingo”, and as such, the revolutionaries named their newly independent country the “Dominican Republic” (la República Dominicana).
In the national anthem of the Dominican Republic (himno nacional de la República Dominicana), the term “Dominicans” does not appear. The author of its lyrics, Emilio Prud’Homme, consistently uses the poetic term “Quisqueyans” (Quisqueyanos). The word “Quisqueya” derives from the Taíno language, and means “mother of the lands” (madre de las tierras). It is often used in songs as another name for the country. The name of the country in English is often shortened to “the D.R.” (la R.D.), but this is rare in Spanish.
As you can see – the history of the island nation is intertwined with many former colonial powers and its cuisine reflects this as well!
Dominican cuisine is predominantly Spanish, Taíno, and African in origin. The typical cuisine is quite similar to what can be found in other Latin American countries. One breakfast dish consists of eggs and mangú (mashed, boiled plantain).
Heartier versions of mangú are accompanied by deep-fried meat (Dominican salami, typically), cheese, or both. Lunch, generally the largest and most important meal of the day, usually consists of rice, meat, beans, and salad. La Bandera” (literally “The Flag”) is the most popular lunch dish; it consists of meat and red beans on white rice. Sancocho is a stew often made with seven varieties of meat. Locrio is considered the national dish and is enjoyed throughout the country.
Meals tend to favor meats and starches over dairy products and vegetables. Many dishes are made with sofrito, which is a mix of local herbs used as a wet rub for meats and sautéed to bring out all of a dish’s flavors. Throughout the south-central coast, bulgur, or whole wheat, is a main ingredient in quipes or tipili (bulgur salad). Other favorite Dominican foods include chicharrón, yuca, casabe, pastelitos (empanadas), batata, ñame, pasteles en hoja, chimichurris, and tostones.
Some treats Dominicans enjoy are arroz con leche (or arroz con dulce), bizcocho dominicano (lit. “Dominican cake”), habichuelas con dulce, flan, frío frío (snow cones), dulce de leche, and caña (sugarcane). The beverages Dominicans enjoy are Morir Soñando, rum, beer, Mama Juana, batidas (smoothie), jugos naturales (freshly squeezed fruit juices), mabí, coffee, and chaca (also called maiz caqueao/casqueado, maiz con dulce and maiz con leche), the last item being found only in the southern provinces of the country such as San Juan.
Locrio is a rice dish from the Dominican Republic that is very similar to pilaf and paella, and consists of seasoned rice with some kind of meat, such as chicken, Dominican salami, guineafowl, rabbit, pork chops, arenque (dried herring), shellfish, or sardines (often called pica-pica). The name derives as a portmanteau: Locrio ＝ Locro + Criollo.
・Locro ＝ A South American stew made with potatoes, corn, beans, vegetables, and meat. It originates from the Andes.
・Criollo ＝ Descendants of Europeans born in the Americas.
In 1492, Christopher Columbus landed in the Dominican Republic. Before the Spanish arrived, the Dominican Republic was home to indigenous people (Taíno) who had migrated from South America and had roots in the Andes. They had their roots in the Andes and ate a stew called Locro. After Columbus landed, the Taíno people were enslaved and many of them died of disease. In order to make up for the lost labor, many people were brought from Africa to the Dominican Republic.
As a result, African culture and flavors were added to the societal mix. Christopher’s brother Bartholomew Columbus built Santo Domingo, the current capital of the Dominican Republic. It was around this time that Spaniards began to settle in the country and began to make paella with ingredients available in the Dominican Republic.
The Muslims originally brought rice to Spain starting in 711 AD, and as a result, paella was born in that country under the Moorish occupation. 750+ years later, the liberated Spanish brought paella to the Dominican Republic, the Taíno and African tastes were added, and the Dominican version of paella – Locrio – was born. Until the 19th century, it was regarded as a dish for poor peasants, but due to its deliciousness and nutritional value, it is now regarded as one of the most representative dishes of the Dominican Republic.
My version of locrio is sublimely representative of the best the country has to offer, of course – and TFD Nation should expect no less from its Autarch of Authenticity! I prefer to use guinea fowl – a bird imported from Africa and now endemic to the Dominican Republic – as well as Dominican longaniza sausage for additional fat and savor (guinea fowl is a very lean bird).
If you have never had the opportunity to try this delectable and VERY hard to catch bird, you’re in for a treat! Guinea fowl meat is moist, very lean, tender and flavorful. It is white like chicken (you can substitute chicken, if you must), but its taste is more reminiscent of pheasant, without excessive gamey flavor. Chefs and home cooks seek them out because of their marvelous flavor; in restaurants, they are often chosen over pheasants because they do not have tendons in the leg and thigh. Buy it from here, and the Dominican longaniza can be easily purchased from here.
Citizens, I am truly abashed and contrite in forgetting the proud county of the Dominican Republic in My recipe missives – I hope that you enjoy this delicious first (but not the last!) recipe from this island nation, now and in the future! The other countries still missing will eventually find themselves here, preserved forever in digital amber for the hungry and teeming masses of TFD Nation!
Battle on – the GeneralissimoPrint
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