Mock Beef Caldereta



Here’s a sorry attempt at plating a dish of beef caldereta.  Do you think I overdid it?  I really wasn’t going to post about this but decided I would at the last minute because of the attractively-colored vegetables.  This caldereta is missing a few key ingredients (which I’ll include in the recipe anyway) which is why I wasn’t originally going to inlcude it in the blog. 

Caldereta is a beef dish Filipinos like to serve at fiesta time.  Beef is the most common meat used.  There’s also a spicier goat caldereta that drinkers prefer.  The chicken caldereta is sweeter because of the addition of pickle relish.  For special occasions, a lot of Filipinos in the provinces would slaughter a cow, a pig, some chickens and maybe a goat for an open-to-everyone kind of feast.  The animals would be slaughtered with an open fire close by.  A huge cauldron of boiling water sitting over some large rocks or hollow blocks is always ready and required.  The men will do the slaughtering and dividing of the meat while the women prepared the rest of the ingredients.  Certain cuts go with certain dishes.  Caldereta  required mostly bones, with some meat still clinging to it. 

My parents once told us the secret to good, old-fahioned Filipino/Spanish recipes is in the marinating.  They preferred marinating meats overnight in the refrigerator.  I used to be very particular about this step because I do think it makes a difference in the final dish.  But for something like this everyday mock caldereta, I made do with marinating for a couple of hours.

As I said, this recipe will include the ingredients and steps I left out for one reason or another.

Beef Caldereta

2 lbs. lean beef chuck (bony cuts are traditionally used) cut in 3-inch chunks

1 chorizo de Bilbao link, sliced thin

3 large tomatoes, diced

1 medium onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

1 small can tomato sauce (I ommitted this because I wanted a thinner sauce)

1 tbsp. soy sauce

1 bay leaf

1 tsp. salt

a few black peppercorns

  • Mix all ingredients in a bowl.  Cover and marinate overnight in the refrigerator or do as I did and marinate for a couple of hours.

1-2 tbsps. light olive oil

2 yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut in about the same size as the beef

1 c. beef broth/water

1 large carrot cut in 2-in. pieces or a few pieces baby carrots

15-20 pcs. olives

1-3 siling labuyo (hot bird peppers) or 1 tsp. Tabasco

1 large bell pepper (red or green is fine)

1/2 c. frozen green peas

salt and pepper to taste

Optional:  1/4 cup grated cheese and 5 tbsps. Reno liver spread

In a large stock pot over medium-high, heat a tablespoon or two light olive oil (don’t use extra virgin, it burns easily) and fry your potatoes until light brown.  Set aside.  Then add a few pieces of meat to the hot oil, making sure there are no onions, garlic or tomato pieces sticking to the pieces because they’ll just burn and turn bitte.  You definitely want to avoid that.  Brown on all sides.  You may have to do this in batches to get good browning that’s essential to a rich sauce.  Set aside with the potatoes.

In the same pot, pour in your marinade, the browned meat, the chili, the olives and a cup of beef broth or plain water.  Bring to a boil, cover and allow to simmer until meat is tender.  Watch the water and your heat so it doesn’t scorch.  It took 2 hours in my case for the beef to tenderize to my liking. 

You can also use a pressure cooker, in which case I suggest 20 minutes over medium heat once it comes to the boil.  Then turn off heat and allow the pressure to subside naturally before opening the cooker.

After the meat is tender, add the potatoes and carrots and simmer about 10 minutes or until carrots are almost tender. 

At this point, if you want to put some cheese and liver spread to thicken your sauce and give it that distinct caldereta flavor, ladle about 6  tablespoonfuls of the cooking liquid into a bowl.  If there’s very little liquid, add about half a cup of water before you do this.  Into this liquid, mix in about 1/4 cup of grated cheese (sharp cheddar, queso de bola or parmesan will do) and about 5 tbsps. of liver spread.  Mix this well and add to your boiling caldereta and give it a gentle stir.

Then add the rest of the ingredients and cook tilll tender.  Adjust seasonings.  Pour in about a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil to the dish before serving.

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