18. Curanto (CURANTO (Ricardo Vargas B.)) Back

This shellfish cooking system is typical of the Chiloé Island, using a pit in the ground, with stones or rocks in it, covered by a fire. When the stones are red hot, the shellfish (mussels, clams, and barnacles) are put over the rocks and then covered by big elephant ear leaves, called in Chile “nalca”. Over the leaves are put the pork ribs, sausages potatoes and pots with cheese and chicken then covered again with leaves. All is then covered with tuft grass and left for 40 to 60 minutes before uncover the curanto.

The curanto is made for a large audience. When we have few guests, we can cook the curanto in a big Dutch oven pot or an iron casserole with 20 liters capacity over a charcoal fire or over a grill.


  • 2 large garlic head or 4 small garlic heads
  • 3 dried red hot chili peppers
  • 2 onions
  • 1 big cabbage with all its leaves
  • 2 tbsp black pepper
  • Salt
  • 1 bottle of white wine
  • 7 Kg mussels, the shells brushed under running water
  • 3 Kg clams, the shells brushed under running water
  • 1 chicken, cut in pieces, half broiled
  • 6 pieces of Polish or smoked sausage
  • Potatoes to cover the casserole border.
  • 1 length of smoked pork rib, cut in pieces
  • Cheese in a small pot
  • Green beans

Put the clams on it; add salt and garlic and the other chili pepper. Cover with green cabbage leaves. Put the potatoes on top (so you can pinch them to see if they are cooked) and towards the center place the sausages, and in the middle the smoked pork rib pieces. Cover again with cabbage leaves. Put the mussels in the casserole, add one chopped big garlic head (or 2 small one), 1 spoon of black pepper, salt and two dried chili peppers cut in length.

Add 1 liter water. Now put in the center a pot with the chicken and cover it with a clean tablecloth. Cover the casserole and put it over the fire. When it begins to boil open the lid, add the wine, the green beans in a table cloth and wait for 20 minutes. When the potatoes are done, add another small pot with the cheese and in 5 or 5 minutes the Curanto is ready for tasting. To serve the curanto: take out the different layers and put into various covered, serving dishes. The shellfish should be all together as should the meat the vegetables, etc. start by eating the meat, chicken, cheese and vegetables, the broth in small cups. Then the fish and shell fish.