Recipe from the 19th century in Guatemala: Duck stew

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Documentary testimonies have recorded recipes prepared by cooks from different civilizations, to find out what people ate in past centuries. For example, in 1987 recipes for Marco Gavio Apicio that make up the manuscript book Apicius culinarius either Of re coquinariawhich dates from the 1st to the 3rd century AD, the oldest known.

One of the oldest recipe books in Guatemala is the cooking bookwhich Amalia Herrera Solís de Muñoz Meany inherited, copied in Guatemala City on December 7, 1844, and which belonged to her family, but possibly dating back many years. It was transcribed and published by the Center for Folk Studies in the 1990s, due to its significant value for the gastronomic culture of the country.

The sauces, desserts and dry sweets stand out in this recipe book, as well as a variety of tamales. It contains two stew recipes, 25 soup recipes, 148 stew recipes, 10 nogada recipes, 23 sauces, 32 cakes, 17 cakes, 238 sweet recipes, 20 marquesotes, 14 quesadillas, and 44 biscuits.

we present the duck stew, recipe reproduced by Elliott Castellanos, executive chef of the Bontá restaurant, Tecpán, Chimaltenango. “For me it was a challenge to make this recipe, since the amounts are not specified, but I think I have passed this test,” he says.

“It was an honor to prepare this dish, that transported me to that time, and imagine the kitchen where it was prepared for the first time, until seeing the final dish. It was a process that I enjoyed”, added Castellanos, who highlighted the exquisite flavor of this stew, in which the characteristic flavor of chile guaque predominates, a recurring ingredient in this recipe book.

original recipe

It was given the name “another duck stew”. “The ducks are preserved in lard and spices, fried whatever it is, they make a chile guaque sauce, cooked with a clove of garlic, bay leaf powder. It is understood that it has to be fried in the same butter as the ducks, and if it is thin, breadcrumbs are added. Then onion heads are sliced, fried with parsley, spices, capers, vinegar and wine. Finally, the ducks are drowned in this compound”.

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Also read: Stuffed duck exalts traditional cuisine


1 yard duck of about four pounds
4 ounces lard (can be substituted for butter)

8 guaque chiles without seeds
2 creole garlic cloves
bay leaves
1 sprig of parsley

1 medium onion
4 tablespoons unsalted capers
1 glass of white wine

1/4 cup vinegar, preferably from home
breadcrumbs (optional)
Salt to taste

Spices to taste, dried and ground


One day before cooking the duck, make a mixture with the butter and ground spices and spread it all over the bird, inside and out. Refrigerate.
The next day, place the duck on a baking tray, and bake it for half an hour, so that it takes on a brown (golden) appearance and that the ingredients penetrate all of the meat.

Separately, cook the guaque chiles, garlic and bay leaves with a cup of water. Then, blend them and fry them with the same fat that the duck produced when it was baked. Cut the onion into julienne strips and chop the capers to make a sauce, which is drowned with the wine, vinegar and finely chopped parsley.

Mix this sauce well with the guaque chile sauce and place it in a pot with the duck. Cook everything for an hour, depending on the duck, as some are more tender than others. If the sauce is very thin, you can add breadcrumbs to thicken it.

Also read: sumptuous stuffed turkey

What did Guatemalans eat in the 19th century?

Starting this year we will be presenting a recreation of recipes —starters, main courses, desserts and sweets— that appear in the cooking booka recipe book handwritten in Guatemala from 1844. This work displays a sample of the dishes that Guatemalans consumed in the 19th century and, possibly, during a large part of the 20th century, with evident Spanish, French and British influence.

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Cover of the handwritten recipe book “Lybro de cocina”, dating from December 7, 1844. (Free Press Photo, Cefol)

These recipes, reproduced by Guatemalan chefs, closely preserving their essence, will help us understand how gastronomic culture has evolved in Guatemala in the last 178 years.

Collected by Cookingtom

Original Article

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