In my family, a holiday or a special occasion is not required to enjoy beef kaldereta. It’s comfort food and we have it as often as we can get the right cut of beef for stewing.
It’s not a difficult dish to make. There are no special skills required. It’s just cutting, browning, seasoning and stewing. The cooking time is long but this is a stew and stews are so good because of long and slow cooking. That’s the nature of stews so we shouldn’t begrudge the length of the cooking.
There are a few pointers to remember though so that beef kaldereta falls can be called “superb” rather than “okay”.
Use stewing beef, never loins or rounds, because the flavor of the sauce develops during the long and slow cooking. In this recipe, chunks of beef short ribs are browned in olive oil then sautéed with plenty of garlic, onions, chilies and oregano.
Crushed tomatoes and bay leaves are added, water is poured in and the meat, spices and vegetables are slow cooked until the beef is fork tender. Note that if using a boneless cut of beef, it is better to use beef broth instead of water for the cooking liquid for a more flavorful sauce.
While the beef simmers, taste the sauce every half hour or so and check the amount of liquid. Adjust the seasonings, as needed, and add more water or broth, about half a cup each time, to prevent the stew from drying out.
When the beef is tender, potato and carrot wedges, peas and olives are added, and the sauce is thickened with mashed cooked chicken livers. Modern cooks substitute canned liver spread or bottled liver pate (more expensive). My personal preference is still the traditional mashed boiled chicken livers.
If you’ve never used mashed liver before and find canned liver spread more convenient, well, I guess you won’t really perceive the difference. Your beef kaldereta will still taste good.
But, if you’re in the mood for the extra effort, I really encourage using mashed boiled chicken livers. Once you’ve tried it, you would consider substituting liver spread only as a last and desperate resort.
Spicy beef kaldereta
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 kilogram stewing beef short ribs, brisket, short plate or shank are recommended
- ½ cup chopped onions
- 3 tablespoons finely minced garlic
- 2 bird's eye chilies sliced
- 2 finger chilies sliced
- 2 sprigs oregano
- 1 400-gram can diced tomatoes
- 2 bay leaves
- 200 grams potatoes peeled and cut into wedges
- 150 grams carrots peeled and cut into wedges
- ¼ kilogram chicken livers boiled and mashed
- 10 pitted olives sliced
- ¼ cup frozen sweet peas
- Cut the beef into two-inch chunks (or have the butcher do this for you).
- Heat the olive oil in a heavy sauce pot or casserole. Over high heat, brown the beef chunks with a little salt and pepper, in batches if necessary.
- Add the garlic, onion, oregano and chilies. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing often, until the vegetables are soft.
- Add the diced tomatoes and bay leaves. Sprinkle in more salt and pepper.
- Pour in two cups water.
- Bring to the boil, lower the heat, cover and simmer for about two hours or until the beef is fork tender.
- While the beef simmers, deep fry the potato and carrot wedges until the edges are browned. Set aside.
- When the beef is done, add the potato and carrot wedges, olives and sweet peas. Cover and simmer for another ten minutes.
- Mix the mashed chicken livers with a little water to make a coarse paste.
- Pour the chicken liver paste into the pot and stir to blend.
- Taste the sauce once more, and add more salt and pepper, if necessary.
- Serve your spicy beef kaldereta with rice or bread.