Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Beef Caldereta

A request by my friend, Mommy Chyi who is facing her inevitable destiny to be a domestic goddess :)

Disclaimer: This Caldereta is more Spanish than the super cheesy versions being cooked nowadays in other Filipino households.  I can't call it traditional because I am not using goat, and I am using a non-traditional stock base: Beer.  I got it from our childhood nanny who, in the few years she was away from us, became a cook for a catering group in her province.

Beef Caldereta:


Beef Marinade:
2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
1/2 Tbsp Pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced

1 Kilo Beef (Shortribs are a favorite, if not available try kalitiran or chuck.  Do not use tenderloin or other expensive cuts of beef)
1 large onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 large bay leaves
2 Tbsp Canola Oil
1 Tbsp liverspread (preferably Reno)
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 large can of diced or crushed tomatoes, use 1 kilo fresh if you have ripe tomatoes (Just remove the skin)
1 Tbsp white sugar (optional, use only if your tomatoes are too sour)
4 cups water
1 Cup Beer (optional, drink the rest while cooking)
2 Large Potatoes, cut in 1 1/2 inch cubes
2 Large Carrots, cut in 1 1/2 inch pieces
2 pieces whole pickles, cut in 1 inch rounds (optional, but this makes it a little bit sweeter)
1 cup green olives (optional, or add less if you're not a fan)
1/4 cup grated Edam cheese (optional, bust those Queso de Bola's out)
2 Tbsp Brandy (optional)
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil (optional)


1. Trim the beef and remove any excess fat (especially on the shortribs).  Wash and then pat dry.
2. Mix the marinade and coat all beef pieces. Let sit for 15 to 30 minutes (don't do it overnight).  In the mean time, prep the veggies.
3. In a saute pan, add 1 Tbsp of canola oil and pan fry the potatoes and carrots until opaque. Make sure to not over crowd the pan to avoid steaming the veggies. You can use vegetable oil if canola isn't available, just don't use olive oil, the smoke point is too low and it'll burn easily. Lightly add salt and pepper after frying. 
4. In a deep pot (preferably heavy bottomed) over medium-high heat, add 1 Tbsp of canola oil and sear the beef pieces on all sides until deeply brown in color.  As with the veggies, do not overcrowd to ensure you get a good sear.  Remove from the pot and set aside.
5. In the same pot (yes, with the burned bits at the bottom), check if you have around 1 Tbsp oil.  Remove excess or add a little more canola for sauteing. Lower the temperature to medium and add the diced onion and garlic. Add a pinch of salt and pepper to release the flavors (don't add too much!). I like sauteing bay leaves as well, so feel free to drop 'em on at this point.
6. When the house smells like onion and garlic, and the veggies are translucent, add the tomato paste.  Saute briefly (until the color darkens a little bit), then add the liver spread.  You can add more liver spread if you like the liver flavor to be more pronounced (I don't).
7. Once the paste is sauteed, add back the beef with all the juices in the plate.  Make sure to coat all sides of the beef with the paste and leave to saute for a few minutes.
8. Add a cup of beer and scrape the bottom of the pan to release all brown bits. Let it come to a boil and allow the alcohol to evaporate. If you're serving to kids however, just use water. When you can no longer smell alcohol, add the tomatoes and water.
9. On high heat, let it come to a boil, then lower the heat to simmer for 3 hours or until the beef is tender.
10. 2 hours into cooking, check the beef for tenderness and skim any frothy bits and oil out of the pot. I try to remove all the oil rendered to avoid a greasy caldereta.  Add more water if the beef is still not tender and you're nearly dried out (this is an indication your heat maybe too high). 
11. Once the beef is tender, taste the sauce and check for the saltiness and sourness of the dish.  Add salt and sugar (and pepper!) as needed.  The sugar will help counteract the sourness of the tomatoes if the batch you got was not ripe enough.  Just don't add too much, you just want to adjust the tomato flavor to imitate peak ripeness, not to make pinoy kids spaghetti.
12.  Once you're happy with the taste, add the cooked potatoes, carrots, sliced pickles and olives.
13. You're nearly done! Once the dish comes back to a boil after adding all the veggies, add the brandy and stir.  Again, not for kids, so just omit if needed. There is no need to bring back to a boil.
14. Turn of the heat and stir in the cheese.  Make sure the dish is no longer actively boiling or the cheese will become stringy as opposed to melted.  I don't prefer a strong cheese flavor to my caldereta (in fact, I usually omit this).  Remove the bay leaves.
15. Remember all the beef oil we removed from the dish? I like replacing it with olive oil, just added on top.

Make sure to cook up tons of rice and serve while hot!

Makes 6 generous servings.

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