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Chifrijo: a typical Costa Rican dish

While the origins of the Gallo Pinto are disputed between Nicaragua and various other Central American countries, the Chifrijo originated at Cordero’s Bar in San José.

It was in 1979 that Don Miguel Cordero, seized by a sudden urge to snack, went into the kitchen of his restaurant and began to prepare a snack for himself. The result was so good that he asked the cook for her opinion, then his entourage, and they unanimously adopted the dish and put it on the menu.

It’s true that it would be a shame to miss out on this dish, such is its popularity…

For those who would like to try it, or for those who know it and would like to prepare it, here is the original recipe.

Chifrijo Recipe – Costa Rica


0.5 kbs fresh white beans and broad beans
1 sprig fresh coriander
1 medium white onion, thinly sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
3 whole garlic cloves
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper
3 ripe tomatoes, finely diced
½ red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup chopped coriander leaves
1/2 tsp. salt
4 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons olive oil

0.5 lbs pork shank
1 spoonful paprika
1 spoonful Cayenne pepper
1 spoonful Thyme
1 spoonful Oregano
2 tablespoons water
1 or 2 spoonfuls vegetable oil


1 onion, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 ½ cups white rice.
2 ½ cups water.
1 spoonful salt
Jalapeño pepper in strips
Ripe avocado, sliced
Toasted corn cakes

Bean preparation

Soak the beans for about 4:00 for fresh beans (24:00 for dry ones) in water, changing the water every 2 or 3 hours. For better digestion, add a teaspoon of bicarbonate to the water.

Drain the beans, cover again with water and add the coriander sprig, halved onion, whole garlic cloves and medium bell pepper. Cook for one hour or until tender.

In another pot, make a sofrito with olive oil, garlic, onion, bell pepper, salt and pepper. Add this mixture to the beans and simmer for 15 minutes.

Shank preparation

Place large cubes of shank in a pot. Coat each piece with a mixture of salt, pepper, paprika, thyme and oregano. Brown in vegetable oil. Don’t let them dry out, and add a little water if they do. Once cooked, place on a paper towel to remove excess fat.

Préparation du Pico de Gallo (Chimichurri)

Dice the tomatoes and onions. Finely chop the coriander and mix. Add salt, lemon and oil. Leave to marinate for 30 minutes in a cool place.

Rice preparation (optional)

In a hot pot, add two tablespoons of oil. Add the chopped onion, garlic and bell pepper, and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add the rice and sauté for a further 2 minutes. Then add the water and salt and cook for around 5 minutes, until the water is completely absorbed.

Chifrijo is served in bowls or soup plates. Place a layer of rice, then a layer of beans and a little juice, a layer of shank and finally the chilled Pico de Gallo. The hot/cold result of the recipe is one of its secrets.

On the side, present the golden corn cakes, sliced avocado and chilli. You can also add lemon slices.

For my part and given my origins, I serve it with a little mustard, but here, I’m going to make the aficionados howl 😉

This is one of my favorite Costa Rican recipes, along with the Olla de Carne, which will be the subject of another post. In the meantime, enjoy!

¡Provecho and Pura Vida!

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