Tarahumara Three Sisters Stew Recipe | PBS Food

Tarahumara Three Sisters Stew

"This is a hearty, satisfying, easy-to-assemble stew recipe that I picked up in Copper Canyon Mexico. What delights me here is that the three main ingredients, corn, beans and squash, compliment each other both in the soil and in our bodies. In the field, the corn, which serves as a trellis for the beans and squash, requires a lot of nitrogen while the legumes supply (or "fix") a lot of nitrogen. On our plates, this combination offers a compliment of tasty slow-release carbohydrates, proteins, fats and other nutrients. If you decide to use homemade pozole corn and home-cooked beans, then these will need to be prepared ahead of time." - Daphne Miller

This recipe appears courtesy of Daphne Miller, MD, a family physician and Associate Clinical Professor Adjunct at the University of California, San Francisco.



  • 3 slices of bacon chopped in bite size pieces or 1 tablespoon lard (optional but adds a lot of flavor)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1⁄2 to 1 teaspoon dried ancho chile (or more if desired)
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 2 cups lima or other broad beans, soaked and cooked
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen corn or 2 cups precooked pozole or 2 cups canned hominy
  • 2 cups sliced delicata squash (the long, thin yellow ones with the green lines)*
  • 3 fresh tomatoes, diced, or one 14- ounce can diced, tomatoes or
5 small tomatillos, hulled and diced
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth or water
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped


  1. In a large sauté pan, cook bacon over medium heat. Add the olive oil. If using lard, heat lard and olive oil at the same time.
  2. Add the onion, garlic, and bell pepper and sauté until the onion is translucent. Add the chile and thyme and stir several times. Add the beans, pozole, squash, tomato or tomatillo, and broth and bring to a bub- bling boil then turn down to a simmer and cover. Do not remove the lid! Cook for 20–25 minutes. For a thicker stew, remove 1 cup and puree in the blender, then return it to the general pot. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Add the cilantro and stir for 1 minute.
  4. Serve warm topped with mashed avocado and a sprinkling of queso blanco and toasted pumpkin seeds. This stew is also delicious the next day with tortillas or eggs.


To prepare delicata squash, peel with a vegetable peeler, cut off ends, then cut in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Cut each piece in half again lengthwise, then crosswise into thin 1⁄2-inch-wide slices. These can also be substituted with a variety of summer squashes or other gourds, depending on what is in season.
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