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.   Read More…

Curried Grass-Fed Beef Shanks #CaboRojoSteaks

curried grass-fed beef shanks

It’s hard avoiding all the negative – and sadly true – news coming out of Puerto Rico this summer.  Countless articles explain how the government borrowed beyond its means during the last four decades and the reasoning behind many families leaving the island in record numbers since the 1950s.  Not as many articles have been written about the creative ways some Puerto Ricans are trying to solve some of our more pressing issues, like economic growth and sustainability.  And there are many people who are leading the way down that road through entrepreneurship and collaboration.  We – as a society – need to get through our thick skulls (and sluggish butts) that supporting these local products (and the businesses that consume them) is crucial for our economic recovery.

Let’s go to the mall Plaza del Mercado today

We found out about Cabo Rojo Steaks, a local grass-fed cattle ranch operation, through a friend.  Their Providencia Ranch is located in Cabo Rojo, a town in the Southwestern corner of the island, but they have a retail operation at the Santurce Plaza del Mercado.  Their cattle is fully grass-fed, free range, and humanely raised for eighteen months.  The Cabo Rojo Steaks product line includes everything – from the traditional steaks cuts, beef stew chunks, and churrascos to bones for stock, heart, tongue, liver… it’s all available at the Placita or by special order.  All of their cuts are portioned and vacuum sealed for easy selection and storage.

Cabo Rojo Steaks Ribeye Steaks

Cabo Rojo Steaks Grass Fed Ribeye Steak

Prior to cooking these steaks, I did not have experience working with grass-fed beef.  Beef from grass-fed, free range cattle is leaner than the varieties more commonly available in retail.  There is much less marbling, as you can see on the picture of the ribeye steak above.  To ensure the meat remains tender, it is best to cook it to medium temperature at most.  We coated these steaks in oil, salt and pepper just before tossing them over the hot coals.

Curry can’t be hurried

Grass-fed beef has a gamier flavor than corn fed varieties.  If you like lamb or goat, you would definitely enjoy the taste of grass-fed beef.  When we were looking at the different cuts at their counter at la Placita, I knew I wanted to marry the flavor of the beef with curry.  Curried goat stews are very popular all through the Caribbean.  Somewhere along curry’s journey from India (through Britain) to the West Indies its flavor mellowed out, it met a tomato or two, and obtained its own culinary identity.

curried grass-fed beef shanks

Browned beef shanks ready for braising in the coconut, curry and tomato sauce.

local organic cayenne peppers

Local organic cayenne peppers from Desde Mi Huerto. For a milder taste, scrape out the seeds and membranes. For full on heat add the whole chopped pepper to the pot while sweating the onions.

This curry recipe would work well with short ribs, beef stew chunks, boneless skinless chicken thighs, and of course the shanks (osso buco).   The smells that will come out of the oven while the beef braises… YUM!  Plan to make this recipe with plenty of time.  Prepping for the recipe and searing the beef takes approximately twenty minutes, and it the braising process requires two and a half hours.  It will be worth the time: the meat from the shanks will fall of the bone, and explode with flavor.  There will be plenty of sauce to soak up with white long grain rice, apio root puree, or mashed cauliflower.

curried grass fed beef shanks

Cabo Rojo Steaks has a retail outpost at the Placita de Santurce, operating at regular market hours from Monday through Saturdays.  All of the products featured in this article were purchased with our own funds.  We did not receive any compensation for writing this article or developing the curried grass-fed beef shanks recipe.

Roasted Eggplant Étouffée

Eggplant Etouffee

When May rolled in – particularly during third week of the month – my social networks swelled up with all the activities surrounding my alma mater’s commencement ceremony.  Lovely birrete art, the second lines and music that only come from New Orleans, and Maya Rudolph’s hilarious address.  It made me nostalgic for my own hectic graduation week, so I scoured the web and my own ‘archives’ for those memories from fifteen years ago. Read More…

Chunky Mojo Isleño

Salinas Puerto Rico

Photo Credit – Angel Figueroa. All rights reserved.

On Sundays, people pile up their families in their cars and take off to explore the island and every corner’s signature flavors.  On today’s Domingo Criollo feature, we ‘visit’ the Southern Puerto Rico town of Salinas through this recipe for chunky mojo isleño.

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Puerto Rican Roast Chicken

Puerto Rican Style Roast Chicken

Last week, after a late night at the office, I found myself scrambling to get to the supermarket on time to grab a rotisserie chicken.  At one of the grocery stores I shop at, if you get there after 8pm chances are you’ll find the chickens no one wanted – if you are lucky.  Burnt wings, torn skin, just sad looking chickens that have been sitting around for a while.  Although everyone needs a good standby place to go grab one, many publications and renowned chefs agree that learning to roast a chicken is an essential kitchen skill. Read More…

Green Pigeon Pea Escabeche (Gandules en Escabeche)

green pigeon pea escabeche

A Holiday Tradition

Gandules – also known in the rest of the Caribbean as guandules or just peas – are the traditional Puerto Rican legume of the holiday season.  I dare you to go to a Christmas party in Puerto Rico without arroz con gandules.  These days, I might even extend that dare to Thanksgiving meals in the island.  The minute you taste the sofrito laced rice and peas, you know it’s Christmas or you are reminded of the season.

Green pigeon peas can be found either canned or frozen, with fresh peas being a little harder to come by.  I was extremely lucky a few years ago.  I had a co-worker that grew them on her backyard.  When the holiday season was around the corner, she would start taking orders for her cosecha, the harvest.  Although there are few things better dishes than arroz con gandules made with fresh peas,  the convenience of canned gandules cannot be denied, especially for recipes like this one. Read More…

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