As we begin to celebrate Hispanic Heritage month, here's a look at some of Latin America's most beloved and enduring dishes, like this  classic sancocho. (Photo/Betty Cortina)

As we begin to celebrate Hispanic Heritage month, here’s a look at some of Latin America’s most beloved and enduring dishes, like this classic sancocho. (Photo/Betty Cortina)

For Hispanic Heritage Month, 5 beloved Latin American dishes!

Hispanic Heritage Month, from September 15 through October 15, honors the many generations of Hispanics who have positively influenced and enriched American society. And while there are many inspiring ways in which that has happened, food is by far one of the most transcendent—the popularity of our flavors crossing borders in powerful ways. In honor of this, we bring you five of the most beloved, classic Latin American dishes ever.

Picadillo

Picadillo

(Photo/Betty Cortina)

Just about every Latin American country has a variation on picadillo: in Cuba it’s made with raisins, capers and olives and served over fluffy, white rice. In Mexico, it’s made with pork that’s flavored with cinnamon, cloves and dried fruits and used as a stuffing for chiles. In Puerto Rico, where picadillo is found in many a cuchifrito, the raisins are often soaked in rum first. Check out our recipe here.

Empanadas

For Hispanic Heritage Month, 5 beloved Latin American dishes!  empanadas1 food NBC Latino News

(Photo/Betty Cortina)

Variations on these little pockets of deliciousness are endless, and depend greatly on the cook and the country from which he or she hails. The dough can be bread-like or flakey. It can be fried or baked. And they can be filled with chicken, beef, seafood, cheese or veggies—or just about any leftover you have on hand, which was its original purpose. They can even be made healthy, like the ones here.

Arroz con pollo

Arroz con pollo

(Photo/Betty Cortina)

Every Latino has an arroz con pollo story, or a mom or grandmother who makes it “perfectly.” Recipes for this most classic of Latin American dishes abound, with each country (if not each family) interpreting it differently. Check out our version here.

Frijoles negros

black beans

(Photo/Betty Cortina)

Whether you’re Cuban and call them frijoles negros or Puerto Rican and call them habichuelas, black beans have been a sacred part of the Hispanic diet for centuries.They’re more than a side dish; they’re culture, comfort and identity served up in a bowl. Here’s a fool-proof recipe.

Sancocho

Sancocho

(Photo/Betty Cortina)

The tradition of long-simmered, hearty soups and stews—the kind that generally send you off for a nice, long siesta—dates back to our earliest days in Latin America and the Hispanic Caribbean, and to the mingling of cultures and ingredients that took place between Native Americans, Spanish conquistadores and African slaves. This sancocho is a classic example.

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