Peruvian Seco


This is what my Sunday afternoon lunch/dinners looked like growing up. Minus the beer. My mama never gave me beer.

My dad, however, did give me whiskey when I was two. He figured if he let me try it that I’d end up hating it and would never drink it again. I did hate it…until I didn’t. Only a temporary success, papa.

Back to seco.

This stew was designed for a cold Sunday.

I recommend putting on a pair of big, warm socks and prepping this thing in the late morning, sticking it in the oven and forgetting about it for a few hours. When you return, the flavors will be all combined, rich and delicious, and the meat will be so soft you won’t even need a knife. Just a fork will do.

What is Peruvian Seco exactly?

Seco is the spanish word for “dry,” which is funny because this dish isn’t dry at all. I honestly don’t know how the dish got its name and it’s gotten too late to text my mama. She likes to go to bed early.

What I do know is that VERY dry meat is added to hot oil as the first step. This gives the meat a nice crust. It’s removed and set aside while the rest of the dish is put together, including the base.

The base of the dish is made from a mix of cilantro, peppers (in this case I used serrano) and chicken stock.

It’s blended together until it reaches an almost pesto-like consistency.

Beer is added and the meat is braised in that mixture for a few hours. The sugar in the beer help break down the meat until it’s fall-apart delicious.

The flavor is rich and bright and aromatic. The beef is soft. Traditionally the dish has frozen peas and corn. You’re more than welcome to add those, if you like. I chose to throw in some potatoes and cubed winter squash.

This dish is flexible in the addition category.

Peruvians eat everything with rice…including potatoes. Starch on starch on starch.

I recommend eating this over a bed of rice, or couscous or even quinoa.

More Peruvian dishes?! Yes! And most of them are green. STRANGE!

Tallarines Verde (Green Spaghetti)

Aguadito (Peruvian Chicken Soup)

Lomo Saltado

Peruvian Seco

Print this recipe!

Olive oil
Sea salt
1 1/2 pound stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1 large bunch cilantro, leaves picked and stems discarded
3 serrano peppers, deseeded and chopped
1 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken stock, divided
1 cup beer – must be a lager (like Heineken or Beck’s)
4 small potatoes, cubed
4 small winter squash, cubed

1. Preheat oven to 325F. Sprinkle the cubes of meat liberally with salt.

1. In a large pot, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and heat over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the meat in one layer, being sure to not overcrowd the pot (you may have to brown the meat in 2 batches – I did!). Cook meat on both sides for about 30 seconds or so. Remove the meat from the pan and transfer it to a bowl. Set aside.

2. To the jar of a blender, add the cilantro leaves, 3 chopped serrano peppers and 1/4 cup of chicken stock. Blend until smooth – the mixture will resemble a pesto. Set aside.

3. In the same pot, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and add the onions; cook until translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, an additional minute. Stir in the cumin, pepper, paprika and 1 teaspoon of salt. (Note: If you’re not using low-sodium chicken broth, I’d recommend adding 1/2 teaspoon of salt.)

4. Pour in the beer and deglaze the bottom of the pot, scraping the brown bits as the beer foams up and steams. Add the meat and its juice back to the pot (it will release some juice as it sits), along with the cilantro mixture and remaining 1 1/4 cup of chicken stock.

5. Cover the pot with its lid and transfer it to the oven. Allow to gently simmer for 1 1/2-2 hours, until the meat is tender. Check on it at the 1 hour mark and add any additional chicken stock if liquid is running low (I added about 1/2 cup over 2 hours). At the 1 1/2 hour mark, check the meat – depending on the quality of meat, it might still be tough. If needed, cook for an additional hour, adding any liquid if necessary. Fold in the potatoes and squash. Cook for an additional 30 minutes, until potatoes are tender.

6. Before serving, adjust salt and pepper to taste. Serve over a bed of warm rice, couscous or quinoa. Garnish with a sprinkling of cilantro.

Serves 4

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Leave a Reply

  • Reply Jorge Boris January 29, 2018 at 7:59 pm

    Great recipe I will definetely try this one out soon. Maybe even twist it a little and make my own. I really like your blog I hope you can give me some advice on how to improve mine. Thank you.
    Jorge Boris

  • Reply Pearl December 22, 2012 at 3:36 am


    I love your blog! Your recipes are just fantastic! Btw, where did you get your cutting board? It’s so unique!


    • Reply Adrianna December 22, 2012 at 8:13 am

      Hi Pearl! Thank you so much. You’re sweet! I got it at Michael’s Craft Store. Only $7, too!

  • Reply Hadley Galbraith December 17, 2012 at 9:34 am

    Ya, I think you’re right! Just a note, I added the carrots and turnips about 1 hr 15 min into cooking time. I passed this blog post onto my parents, and I think they are eating it tonight! πŸ™‚

    • Reply Adrianna December 17, 2012 at 12:09 pm

      Good note! Thank you. Hope they like it! x

  • Reply Hadley December 16, 2012 at 8:41 pm

    I made this tonight for dinner and it was delicious! And so easy. I used a lager, like you recommended. I was a little sorry to mess with the recipe, but I didn’t have much stew meat, so I added carrots and turnip, which turned out very good. Thank you for sharing!

    • Reply Adrianna December 16, 2012 at 9:06 pm

      Oh yay! I think a vegetable seco would be delicious, too! So glad you liked it.

  • Reply Hadley Galbraith December 14, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    Hi! This looks awesomse! When you say MUST be a lager….do you really mean it? I have a darker beer in my fridge that, ha, I can’t drink because I had start taking medication that won’t let me drink it! Every night it stares at me longingly (and not the other way around) as I shut the fridge door. Seems like it would go well in this, but I don’t want to be presumptuous πŸ™‚

    • Reply Adrianna December 15, 2012 at 11:29 am

      It depends what kind of dark beer. What kind is it? Is it a porter? An IPA? If it isn’t too bitter, it should be fine.

  • Reply Michelle December 11, 2012 at 9:42 pm

    This was amazing! Great recipe! I added in peas, 1/2 rutabaga, potatoes and some spring onions for add ins! So delicious!

    • Reply Adrianna December 11, 2012 at 9:49 pm

      A rutabaga?! I love that. You’re cool!

  • Reply jordan December 11, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    this looks amazing. do you think you can replace the cliantro with parsley? my fiance cant stand cilantro. πŸ™

  • Reply Bettina December 8, 2012 at 9:33 pm

    Are you gals peruvian? My parents are both Peruvian and seco is one of my favorite dishes, I still can’t make it quite as good as my mom can, but it still always tastes amazing!

  • Reply Julie December 6, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    I found out while in Ecuador that “seco” is referring to the plain rice its served over. I had the same question the first time that I ate seco! looks delicious and can’t wait to make it!

  • Reply anna December 6, 2012 at 10:16 am

    this looks delicious, love the pepper and coriander pesto! will try it asap.

    anna x

  • Reply Megan December 6, 2012 at 10:15 am

    I’ve got this in my oven right now. Can’t wait to see how it turns out! I can’t imagine that it will be anything but incredible based on smell alone. Those thick cilantro-saucy kinds of things get me every time. YUM.

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