Imagine beef stew. Imagine beef chunks seared, then stewed to tender perfection, low and slow in a Crock Pot. Imagine that beef stew spiced to perfection with garlic, re-hydrated peppers, cumin, coriander and Mexican oregano (just for starters). Then, imagine stew sauce so thick you can heap all of that deliciousness onto a flour tortilla. Yeah. That would be this recipe for Carne Guisada. Soup Saturday is here again and this month’s theme is Mexican Soup.
This month’s Soup Saturday Swappers is hosted by Karen from Karen’s Kitchen Stories; she decided on the theme of Mexican Soup. Immediately, I knew just what I wanted to make. Carne Guisada. Stewed Beef in a spicy gravy. It’s not Tex-Mex. It’s the real deal.
One of the greatest parts about this recipe is that you can take a really inexpensive cut of beef and make it taste like a million bucks. No kidding. And a slow cooker is the trick. Beginning with a sprinkle of salt and pepper, the beef is seared in a bit of oil. Searing creates a caramelized outer layer that adds so much to the dish as it continues to cook. Sure, you can just toss the meat in the Crock Pot, but this first step is the foundation to flavor building.
Another element in flavor building for this recipe is to re-hydrate dried peppers. If you’ve never done this before, it’s simple. Boil water, add the dry peppers, let them soak for about 20 minutes. Then! Then, don’t you dare throw out that water those peppers soaked in! You’re going to use it in the stew instead of stock or plain water. Instant flavor!
Dry peppers are easy to find in most major grocery stores. Look in the international foods section of your local store. I used arbol (also known as bird’s beak or rat-tail chiles) and guajillo, but dry ancho and pablano peppers are easy to find also.
In addition to the beef and the chiles, onions, garlic and sweet bell peppers combine with cumin, coriander, chili powder, Mexican oregano, mild green chiles, bay leaf and tomatoes in a flour-thickened sauce that is cooked low and slow.
We ate ours piled onto flour tortillas; added slices of avocado, a squeeze of lime and some fresh chopped cilantro. *Thud*
- 4 cups boiling water
- 6 dry arbol peppers
- 3 dry guajillo peppers
- 2-3 pounds beef chuck, bottom round, flank or sirloin (the cheapest cuts work great) cut into 1" pieces
- 1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- salt and ground black pepper
- 1 cup diced onion
- 1 cup diced sweet bell pepper (I used orange and red)
- 5 cloves garlic, minced (about 5 teaspoons)
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon Mexican oregano
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander
- 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2½ cups of the soaking liquid from the dry peppers
- 1 - 4 ounce can green chiles
- 1 - 14 ounce can diced tomatoes
- 2 bay leaves
- Garnish: fresh avocado, limes and chopped cilantro
- In a medium-sized sauce pan, bring 4 cups of water to a boil.
- Remove from heat, add the dried peppers, cover and let sit 20-30 minutes.
- Remove the peppers from the water, remove the stem and chop (to control the heat of the guisada, you can remove some of the seeds prior to adding them to the stew).
- Place the chopped chiles in the slow cooker.
- Season beef pieces with salt and pepper.
- In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon of the oil.
- Add beef pieces so as to not crowd the pan (you may have to work in batches). Sear all sides (about 5 minutes per batch).
- Transfer the seared beef to the slow cooker.
- Using the same skillet, over medium heat, add 1 teaspoon of oil along with the onion and bell pepper and saute 3 minutes.
- Add the garlic and continue to saute for 1 minute.
- Add cumin, chili powder, oregano, coriander and flour and cook 1 minute.
- Slowly pour in 2½ cups of the soaking water from the peppers into skillet, stirring until liquid is smooth.
- Simmer 2 minutes then transfer mixture to slow cooker.
- Add to the slow cooker the tomatoes, green chiles, and bay leaves.
- Stir to combine.
- Season with salt and ground black pepper, to taste.
- Cover and cook on high 6 hours.
- Serve in warmed flour tortillas with avocado, lime and fresh chopped cilantro
Be sure to check out the other Mexican Soups offered by this month’s Soup Saturday Swapper bloggers: