Carne Guisada

8.17.2010

Carne guisada simply means "meat with gravy" but there's nothing simple about the flavors of this Tex-Mex dish!  This was my favorite meal growing up and I always request it when I go home for the holidays (I've never seen it in a restaurant outside of Texas).  It's basically a stew made with beef, onions, peppers, spices, and sometimes tomatoes (though not in my recipe).

Carne guisada can be made and served many different ways - with or without tomatoes, with perfect cubes of meat or shredded beef, served by itself or with tortillas or cornbread.  I've even heard of it being made with chicken or pork (but then shouldn't it be called "pollo guisada" or "cerdo guisada"?).  There's probably a different "family recipe" for every family in Texas!  Now I could be diplomatic and say there's no right way to make the dish, but that would be a lie.  My mama's way is the right way!

So here it is.  My mama's recipe for carne guisada (as made by me for dinner last night!).

 What You Need:
1-2 round steaks 
1 yellow onion
1 red pepper
1 green pepper
4-5 cloves of garlic
1-3 tbsp. of flour
1/2 to 1 cup water
Salt
Pepper
Cumin
Chili powder
Red pepper flakes
Olive oil

What To Do:
1. Chop the steak into roughly 1-inch cubes.  Heat oil in a large pan.
2. Chop the onions, red pepper, green pepper, and garlic.
3. Brown the onions for a couple of minutes.  Add the chunks of beef and brown them.
4. Once the meat is brown, add the red and green peppers and the garlic.
5. Season with salt and pepper to taste and a couple teaspoons of cumin and chili powder.  (Honestly, I don't really measure the spices.  I start with a little and taste it as it simmers to add more.)
6. Add about 1/2 cup of water to just cover the meat (you may need more than half a cup, depending on the size of your pan).
7. Sift in the flour, a little at a time, to thicken the gravy.
8. Let simmer for 1-3 hours then serve with warm flour tortillas.  

Note: This cut of beef isn't exactly the most tender so the longer it simmers, the softer it gets.  I try to max out the time and let it simmer for at least two hours.  The photo above was taken after about an hour of simmering.  The longer it cooks, the less liquid you're left with, so keep that in mind when deciding how you want to serve it (on tacos, as a stew, etc.)

This is great as a taco all by itself, but I sometimes like to have it with a little sour cream and guacamole or just sliced avocados.

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