Sunday, January 24, 2010

Carbonada (Argentine Beef Stew)

A new year and a new site design deserves a special new recipe to kick things off. Why not a hot plate of Carbonada to keep you warm on a cold night?

Carbonada is a classic home-cooked beef stew from Argentina. Being one of the world's major beef suppliers, so it's no surprise the people of Argentina would develop some incredible beef recipes. Argentine cuisine has evolved distinctly from other Latin American countries due to the influence of Italian, Spanish, French and other European dishes.

With Carbonada, chunks of beef are slowly stewed with vegetables native to Argentina: tomatoes, potatoes and corn. Sometimes dried or fresh fruits, such as apricots or pears, are added, although in this recipe, I left them out.

I wanted to make this a cold weather recipe. While all of the ingredients can be found in our grocery stores during winter, not all of them are in season. I also wanted to make it easier to use ingredients normally found in long term food storage so, you'll see notes about using both fresh, and canned versions of some ingredients.

Equipment Needed
Large saucepan with lid
Kitchen knife
Cutting board
Can opener
Measuring cups and spoons

1 pound beef *stew meat
1 1/2 yellow onion
6 oz. winter squash, such as butternut or banana squash (about 2 cups, cubed)
3 medium tomatoes or one 16 oz. can diced tomatoes
12 oz. fresh or frozen corn, or 1 15 oz. can corn, drained
1 medium sweet potato**
2 bay leaves
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon sugar
3 3/4 cups stock (beef or chicken)
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and ground black pepper as needed
Parsley to garnish

First, there's some prep work to be done. Rinse and dry the stew meat. Season with a small amount of salt and pepper and set aside.

Peel and finely chop the onion, and set aside.

Scoop out the seeds from the squash, along with any stringy bits, peel, and cut into 1-inch cubes. Set aside.

If using fresh tomatoes, remove the stems and roughly chop. You can remove the seeds if you like, but I don't. If using canned tomatoes, drain them and set aside.

Thoroughly wash the sweet potato and cut the pointy ends off (save them for making stock). Prick the potato all over with a fork and microwave on high for 1 minute to start the cooking process. (The other ingredients will cook faster than the potato will, so we cook the potato a bit, beforehand, to make sure the squash doesn't overcook before the potatoes are done.) Being careful not to get burned, cut the partially cooked potato crosswise into 1-inch thick rounds, leaving the peel on. Cut each round into quarters and set aside.

Now, let's get down to business. Heat the olive oil in the sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add the beef and brown it completely. Transfer the beef to a dish and set aside.

In the same saucepan, add the onion, along with a pinch of salt. Reduce the heat to medium and saute the onion until soften and slightly browned. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, and stock. Stir just until the tomato paste is dissolved. Add the bay leaves.

Turn the heat up to high, bringing to stock mixture to a boil. Return the beef to pan. Add the corn, squash and sweet potato. Stir a bit, and then cover the pan with a lid. Leave it on high heat. Once the broth comes back to a boil, remove the lid and skim off any foam from the top. Reduce the heat to medium-low, put the lid back on, and simmer for approximately 20 to 25 minutes.

At this point, check the potatoes to see if they're done by sticking them with a fork or skewer. If the skewer goes through easily, they're done. If not, cook for an additional 5 minutes, and check again.

Season to taste with additional salt and ground black pepper.

Makes 6 servings.

I like serving this with rice, but you don't have to. A hearty sourdough bread would be great, as well.

*Stew meat is cut and cubed from cheaper, tougher, cuts of beef. After long stewing times, though, it becomes quite tender.

**Some recipes call for regular white potatoes or a combination of sweet potatoes and white potatoes. I prefer this dish with sweet potatoes, alone.

1 comment:

Brittany said...

It is true, Argentine food has a lot of influence from Spain Italy and France. It had been evolving throuout time, and now they have the best dishes. I remember when I travlled to the country, I was anxious about eating the so called "empanadas"! They didn´t let me down, on the contrary, I loved them and got the recipe to prepare them at home. I had an apartment rental buenos aires and my neighbor used to cook tasteful meals and I couldn´t get enough. Now I am an Argentine steak fan and I love Dulce the leche. I wonder why they don´t do it in other countries beig that delicious!