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 misskmberlynn November 30, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    Off topic: Have you ever made the El Salvadorian dish Pupusas? I hope one day you do and put it on your blog. The way you instruct with great detail and photos helps me in the kitchen when I am recreating a dish. I was searching for a good instruction guide for making pupusas and I thought, Cozy Kitchen could definitely do this! and better!

    • Reply Adrianna November 30, 2012 at 12:57 pm

      I haven’t but I LOVE PUPUSAS. Let me play around with them before I put them on this here blog. Thanks for the recommendation. I love getting these!

  • Reply Naomi S. November 30, 2012 at 10:43 am

    Yes!! This is going to be perfect for tonight. It’s raining and cold and I want beef! πŸ™‚

  • Reply Katie @ Blonde Ambition November 30, 2012 at 10:34 am

    I got super excited to see that you posted a new Peruvian recipe today — I’ve had your Aguadito recipe bookmarked for nearly a year now and I’ve been dying to make it for just as long, but I’m always missing at least 1 ingredient!

    This sounds so good. Perfect for the storms we’re getting up north! I love that all your Peruvian recipes are green….I think that’s my favorite part of them! Also, I just love cilantro and peppers.

  • Reply laura @ glutton for nourishment November 30, 2012 at 10:16 am

    yummmm this looks so good. i love peruvian food! keep ’em coming.

  • Reply marie November 30, 2012 at 9:30 am

    i love peruvian food!! have you ever made an aji? i used to get this amazing aji amarillo sauce at a latin restaurant i worked in and i have no idea how they made it

  • Reply Cynthia November 30, 2012 at 7:58 am

    mmmm…..seco!!! My mom makes it with a side of frejoles canarios.

    • Reply lourdes canela February 16, 2013 at 7:07 am

      thats how its originally served over rice and white beans. My mother also makes it with frijoles canarios

  • Reply Laura (Blogging Over Thyme) November 30, 2012 at 6:27 am

    This looks delicious! I have to say, I have no problem with starch on starch (especially when its potato on rice–like in a curry or something). It’s always very comforting. And this recipe definitely seems like a special one, thanks for sharing such a family heirloom!

    Have you made locro before? I think that’s Peruvian as well. I make it with butternut squash, corn, peas, feta, onion, and a tiny bit of tomato. It’s one of my FAVORITES! Definitely going to be bookmarking this recipe though…

    • Reply Adrianna November 30, 2012 at 10:00 am

      Oh I haven’t. It sounds SO good! I need to look into that. Must try!

  • Reply Meghan November 30, 2012 at 6:21 am

    I love to get up early and cook in warm fuzzy socks.

    This looks so good! Just curious, what kind of squash are those? I’ve never seen a squash that looks quite like that before!

    • Reply Adrianna November 30, 2012 at 10:01 am

      They’re winter baby squash!

  • Reply sarahpantcheff November 30, 2012 at 6:18 am

    This looks so delicious! I am really excited about trying it sometime soon – especially as it’s gotten really cold here in Boston! (for an English girl, anyway…) My grandad used to give us beer when we were really young – just a sip from his nightly 6pm beer. He used to have it with peanuts – we were also allowed a few peanuts, with the instruction to ‘chew them carefully!’ He was much more worried about us choking on the peanuts than any ill-effects from the beer!

  • Reply Bev @ Bev Cooks November 30, 2012 at 6:17 am

    I am seriously dying right now. This is SSOOOOOO my type of meal and I’m losing my vision.

  • Reply Anne W. November 30, 2012 at 6:09 am

    This looks fantastic! It will be a great dish to make back in the USA after I move from Lima, Peru! And how true on rice & potatoes… One or the other, and sometimes both, are served with EVERYTHING here!

  • Reply little kitchie November 30, 2012 at 3:32 am

    this looks like an amazing sunday dinner! perfect comfort food.

  • Reply marissa @ the boot November 30, 2012 at 1:32 am

    italians do starch on starch too! (potatoes + rice, pasta + potatoes) this looks unbelievably good!

  • Reply Margherita November 30, 2012 at 12:39 am

    Ha! Loving that you had whiskey but no beer…
    Never had seco in my life, this recipe is very tempting, I’m gonna try it next Sunday. But first I have to find some serrano peppers!

  • Reply this is lemonade November 30, 2012 at 12:23 am

    Oooh this looks delightful. I love cilantro and so much green is pleasing to the eye, I feel as though I can smell the fragrance. I must try this. I love a good stew for this season – thank you for sharing this πŸ™‚

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