Carne Guisada – Puerto Rican Beef Stew

Carne Guisada

When I was a kid, I did not show much love for my mother’s beef stew, carne guisada.  I was told once by a family friend that my mother made the best beef stew and I shrugged it off.  Teenagers are stupid.  I didn’t really get the alchemy behind sofrito, tomato, potatoes, carrots, bay and beef.  My siblings and I would get home back from school and basically ignore the large pot where the beef stew, stuffed pot roast and carne a la catalana would simmer for hours before dinnertime. It was just… there.  It took going away for college and coming back home to appreciate the comforting magic of these slow cooked dishes.  

I went on a carne guisada binge two weeks ago.  One of my college roommates came to visit, and we met with our other roommate for lunch at la Placita de Santurce.  We went to a restaurant that hasn’t been able to take their version off the menu since they opened.  It’s a no-knife needed dish – tender, very nice but (steals furtive glances left and right) it was blander than what I would have expected from this place.  Local roomie, who also lives in San Juan, asked me if I had tried the carne guisada at Ají Dulce in Old San Juan. I hadn’t.

Carne Guisada

 

Tempted by the suggestion, I visited Ají Dulce with E the following Sunday. It was right there in the menu: The Best Carne Guisada You Will Eat… or something to that effect.  With the fresh memory of the previous taste, I dug into this plate:

 

carne guisada

Carne Guisada from Ají Dulce at Old San Juan

Texture-wise… I have to give props to the Santurce restaurant.  Carne guisada has to be soft, and the Ají Dulce dish had me reaching for the knife a few times.  Flavor-wise, Ají Dulce was closer to how I make braises and stews at home: with carrots, melted onions and and bits of tomato.

To close off my search for the best carne guisada… I went shopping!  Armed with two pounds of beef stew chunks from Cabo Rojo Steaks, carrots from El Josco Bravo, homemade sofrito, and a few pantry staples, I cooked up a batch that could stand up to any restaurant’s.  I’m not messing around with the chefs’ mothers, though.

Carne Guisada
Carne Guisada - Puerto Rican Beef Stew
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Most Puerto Rican stews simmer over a base of sofrito and tomato sauce or diced tomatoes. Sofrito is a mixture of onions, garlic, cilantro, recao/culantro, cubanelle peppers, and sweet ajíes (small peppers), pureed together in a food processor. My recipe for sofrito is linked in the post if you need one.
Servings Prep Time
4generous servings 15minutes
Cook Time
2.5hours
Servings Prep Time
4generous servings 15minutes
Cook Time
2.5hours
Carne Guisada
Carne Guisada - Puerto Rican Beef Stew
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Most Puerto Rican stews simmer over a base of sofrito and tomato sauce or diced tomatoes. Sofrito is a mixture of onions, garlic, cilantro, recao/culantro, cubanelle peppers, and sweet ajíes (small peppers), pureed together in a food processor. My recipe for sofrito is linked in the post if you need one.
Servings Prep Time
4generous servings 15minutes
Cook Time
2.5hours
Servings Prep Time
4generous servings 15minutes
Cook Time
2.5hours
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Place a Dutch oven or other heavy bottomed pot over medium high heat.
  2. Pat dry the beef stew chunks with paper towels, and season with salt and pepper. Working in two batches, sear the meat on all sides for about five to seven minutes in the Dutch oven. Transfer the partially cooked beef stew chunks to a bowl and set aside.
  3. Lower the heat to medium temperature. Add the sofrito to the Dutch oven, and with a wooden spoon, break up all the browned bits. Add the tomato sauce, oregano, cumin, and bay leaf and let them cook together for about two minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

  4. Add the red wine and the capers, and and let them cook together for about a minute. Add back the beef stew chunks, along with the beef stock and water. Turn the heat up to high temperature and allow the stew to boil for a minute. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 60 minutes, covered.
  5. Add the potatoes and carrots to the Dutch oven. If too much liquid has evaporated, add back 1/2 to 1 extra cup of water. Let the beef stew cook for an additional 60 minutes. Test the beef for texture and if it doesn't break apart easily, simmer for an additional 30 minutes. Serve the beef and the sauce over rice.

carne guisada

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Author:Adriana

Adriana is a financial analyst by day, avid home cook in the evenings, and food blogger and runner in the strange hours between those two. When not in the kitchen concocting meals and stories to pass around, she is out looking for the next great bite (or the ingredients to make it at home), checking what's new at the market, or planning a trip around great food and wine.

One Response to “Carne Guisada – Puerto Rican Beef Stew”

  1. April 22, 2016 at 11:10 am #

    Looks delicious!

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