Meatless charquicán: mashed potatoes and squash with spinach and celery |

Meatless charquicán: mashed potatoes and squash with spinach and celery

I’ve made mashed potatoes and squash many times but never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that it was a traditional vegetable side dish for the rodeo-loving Chileans. In the Chile episode of No Reservations, Anthony Bourdain partook of a barbecue feast where he enjoyed ribs braised in red wine with a side dish of mashed potatoes, pumpkin, spinach and celery.

Unlike my all-vegetable side dish, however, the Chilean charquicán includes finely diced and fried leftover meat. In fact, charquican is really a dish for leftover meat and bits and pieces of whatever vegetables are on hand. And the dish may have originated from Peru.

I don’t know if it is usual to add butter and cream to the Chilean charquicán but I added both butter and cream to mine. Everything just tastes better with butter and cream. Especially vegetables.

And, of course, because squash rather than pumpkin is native to my country, I substituted. Squash is cheap and plentiful; imported pumpkin is rare and pricey. The substitution is a no-brainer.


  • 3 medium-sized potatoes
    1 and 1/2 c. of diced squash
    3 celery stalks, sliced thinly
    a bunch of spinach, blanched and squeezed
    3 tbsps. of butter
    4 to 6 tbsps. of cream (or milk)
    freshly milled black pepper


  1. Place the potatoes in a pan. Cover with water. Bring to the boil, lower the heat, cover and simmer for ten minutes. Add the diced squash. Continue cooking for another ten minutes. Add the sliced celery. Cook for another five minutes.

    Drain all the vegetables together and transfer to a bowl. Add the butter. Mash the potatoes and squash (the celery will not be soft enough to mash). Stir to incorporate the melting butter. Stir in the spinach. Pour in the cream or milk and stir until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

    See a similar recipe that substitutes fennel for the celery.

    And what’s that dish in the blue bowl in the background? That’s caldo pata, also from the Chile episode of No Reservations. The caldo pata recipe coming up next.

Cooking time (duration): 25 minutes

Number of servings (yield): 3

Meal type: supper

Meatless charquicán: mashed potatoes and squash with spinach and celery

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The Author

Hello, my name is Connie Veneracion. I cook, I shoot, I write. But I don't do the laundry. I don't like housekeeping very much either... (more about me)

8 Responses

  1. Miam says:

    This looks so good, I will try it next week (after I receive our grocery budget!)
    My mother-in-law makes a similar dish, but a bit soupier and with sitaw instead of celery. Happy New Year, miss Connie!

  2. Alessandra says:

    In Chile we eat this as our main course – we just serve up more and add a fried egg or two on top! The runny yolk suprisingly tastes delicious on top! And your meatless version is great! We have that here too for the “vegetarians” although I highly doubt they use veg broth instead of chicken broth! :)

  3. chris says:

    My fiancé and I just saw that episode of No Reservations and had to pause it to look for this recipe, and ended up finding it on your web page. Looks amazing. We will be making this soon.