Carne Guisada translates to “stewed meat” in English. That’s really all this recipe is. Beef stew with a few potatoes. What makes it different from most American-style beef stews is the addition of some fresh and dried chile peppers.
Carne guisada was always a favorite of mine, but I really started eating a lot of it when I lived out in Victoria, Texas. There was a Laredo Taco Company at the gas station near the street where I lived.
I got addicted to them. For a time there, I ate carne guisada tacos for lunch almost every day.
I grew up eating it as a regular stew, but sticking it in a homemade flour tortilla takes it to another level. A messy level, but a higher level.
With that being said, you can eat it as a stew with tortillas on the side. You can even serve it up with a pile of steamed rice underneath it. Whatever works for you.
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I like a little more of a chew with carne guisada. Not too much. Just enough that it isn’t mushy.
To get more texture into the meat, I use beef top round and gently simmer it for about an hour. It’ll be just the right tenderness. Not too tough and not too soft.
Another thing to keep in mind is that you want to cube the meat and potatoes up to a size that they’ll fit into a tortilla properly. You don’t want big chunks that you’ll end up pulling out with your teeth and making a mess.
One-half-inch cubes for both the beef and the potatoes work best.
Tips for Cooking Your Carne Guisada
- Make sure to use the right kind of potatoes. Waxy potatoes like small red potatoes or fingerlings will hold up better when you simmer them. Starchy potatoes, like Russets, will have a tendency to dissolve in the broth.
- Trim all of the fat off of the outside of the beef. Don’t toss it out. Chop it into small pieces, render the liquid out of it over medium heat, then toss out the remaining solids. Fat is flavor. If you use rendered beef fat to brown your beef and saute your onions, you’re stew will have a much beefier flavor. If there isn’t enough fat, you can supplement/substitute with vegetable oil.
- Once you’ve trimmed and cubed the beef, use about 2 teaspoons of salt and sprinkle it evenly over the beef, then let it sit for at least a half-hour before cooking. This will help it retain some moisture while you cook it, making it juicier.
- A cast iron dutch oven works best for this recipe, but any lidded pot will do. If you’re using a nonstick pot, you should sear the beef in a cast iron or enameled pan first, then transfer everything to your pot. Nonstick pans don’t sear very well, and the Mailliard reaction from searing on cast iron makes a big difference.
Tex-Mex Carne Guisada
- 2 lbs. top sirloin - trimmed (fat reserved) and cut into 1/2" cubes
- 2 medium poblano peppers - seeded and diced
- 2 large serrano peppers - minced
- 1 large yellow onion - diced
- 1 lb. small red potatoes (or other waxy potatoes, like fingerlings) - cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 4 cloves garlic - minced
- 2 medium Roma tomatoes - diced
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 tsp. black pepper - freshly ground
- 1 tbsp. chili powder
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 3 cups beef stock
- 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
- Chop the fat you reserved from trimming the beef into small cubes. Cook in the pot over medium heat until it's released about three tablespoons of fat. Discard the solids. If you don't have enough beef fat, you can substitute vegetable oil.
- Increase the heat to medium-high and brown the cubed beef on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. You may need to do this in three batches to prevent overcrowding.
- Add the diced peppers and onions and saute until the onions are translucent and beginning to brown. About ten minutes.
- Add the beef stock, potatoes, tomatoes, seasonings, garlic, and meat. Stir well, bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to a low simmer. Cover and cook for one hour until the meat is tender. Taste for salt and adjust.
- Remove 1 cup of liquid and stir in the flour until smooth. Add back into the pot and thoroughly mix in. Cook uncovered until thickened. About 10 minutes.