Fall is the beginning of comfort food season, and there's nothing quite as warming as a stick-to-your ribs beef stew—a.k.a. carne guisada. (Photo/Betty Cortina)

Fall is the beginning of comfort food season, and there’s nothing quite as warming as a stick-to-your ribs beef stew—a.k.a. carne guisada. (Photo/Betty Cortina)

How to make: Latin-style beef stew (carne guisada)

With fall’s chill comes a craving for all things stick-to-your ribs. And there’s nothing quite as satiating like those big, simmering pots of stew, their savory aromas wafting through the air. The best thing about them: while they may seem totally decadent, they’re actually cheap to make.

Why? Because a stew actually calls for a less expensive cut of meat—cheaper than, say, a juicy and tender churrasco. For making these hearty guisadas, you need a tough and lean cut that’s best cooked low and slow. Meat that has little fat instead has something called collagen, which is a type of connective tissue. That’s precisely what breaks down over long cooking times, and turns the meat into something seriously tender. (In fact, don’t bother trying to start with a tender cut thinking it will reduce cooking time; stewing that kind of meat will actually make it tough. I know this because I’ve tried!) Some key cuts to consider at the market: chuck or chuck shoulder; top, bottom or eye round; rump roast. Also, if it’s marked stew meat  it will work just fine too.

There are a wide variety of ways to make carne guisada throughout Latin America. In Mexico, the meat is stewed with chile peppers and, sometimes, beer and served with flour tortillas. (Check out the one made by Homesick Texan here.)  In Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Cuba—where today’s recipe hails from, and where it’s also called carne con papa— it’s often flavored with paprika, cumin and oregano and stewed in dry wine or sherry. Potatoes and corn are often tossed in for good measure, and it’s served over white rice. You can also skip the rice and serve with some crusty bread.  Whatever you do, however, don’t hurry this dish. The longer it simmers, the more flavorful it will be.

Latin-style beef stew (carne guisada)

(Photo/Betty Cortina)

(Photo/Betty Cortina)

1/4 cup all purpose flour, plus 1 T

Salt and pepper, to taste

2 lb beef for stew (such as chuck or top round) cut into 2-inch chunks

1/4 cup olive oil

1 large yellow onion, chopped

1 large green bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp dried oregano

2 bay leaves

1 T tomato paste

1/2 of a small can of no-sodium tomato sauce

1 cup dry sherry

2 large red potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes

1/4 cup capers

Cooked white rice, for serving

Fresh parsley or cilantro, for garnish

1. In a shallow bowl, combine the flour with salt and pepper and whisk to incorporate.

2. In a large caldero, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Working in small batches so as not to overcrowd the pot, dredge the meat chunks in the seasoned flour and place in the caldero to brown on all sides, about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from the pot and set aside. Repeat with the remaining meat.

3. In the same caldero, add the onion, bell pepper, garlic and 1 tablespoon of flour, stirring well to combine. Cook until onions are translucent and peppers are tender, about 7 to 8 minutes. If the pot gets too dry, add a little more olive oil.

4. Add the paprika, cumin, oregano and bay leaves, and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes.

5. Add tomato paste and tomato sauce and cooking for another 3 minutes.

6. Return the meat to the pot and add the sherry. If the liquid does not just about cover the meat, add a little water until it does. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and allow to cook for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until the meat is completely fork tender. Add the potatoes and capers and cook for another 30 minutes, until potatoes are fully cooked.

7.  To serve, spoon stew over cooked white rice and sprinkle with fresh parsley or cilantro.

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