Monday, March 19, 2012

Beef Caldereta de Putaje

I think each family has their own recipe for most common dishes. Ever wonder why your spaghetti sauce tastes different from Mrs. Jones' down the block? Or why your roast chicken tastes very different from your friend Camille's? It is a result of geographical location, personal preferences and allergy considerations by most accounts.

The same is true for Beef Caldereta. The Kapampangans have their slightly sweet version with fried potatoes and sweet bell peppers. The Batanguenos make theirs with cheese and pimiento. The Bicolanos put coconut cream and lots of chili peppers in theirs. My family's version is made special with button mushrooms, pitted olives and a generous sprinkling of Edam cheese. The original recipe came from my Dad's Aunt Dolores on his mother's side.

I cannot count the number of people I've asked what their cooking speciality is that answered Beef Caldereta. And why not? It's a dish you have to spend a few hours on preparing and the ingredients are expensive often served during special occasions like birthdays, Easter and Christmas. For most, this is not the typical Thursday night dinner option.

So you want to wow your party guests or be the star at your next potluck dinner? Serve this beef dish that will blow everyone's socks off. Trust me, by the end of the evening, everyone will be asking for the recipe.

Beef Caldereta de Putaje
(Festive Beef Stew)

1.5 kilos beef kenchie, short ribs or brisket, cubed
juice of 4 pieces calamansi (Philippine lime)
3 tablespoons patis (fish sauce)
1/4 cup canola oil, divided
1/2 head garlic, minced
1 large onion, chopped
1-250 grams pack tomato sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon refined sugar
2 cups water
1 to 2 pieces bird's eye chili, seeded and sliced
1 small can liver spread
1 1/2 cups canned button mushrooms, halved
2/3 cup pitted green olives
1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese or Queso de bola (Edam)
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Marinate beef in calamansi and patis for 1 hour.
2. Brown beef cubes in half of oil. Set aside.
3. Saute garlic and onions in remaining oil.
4. Add seared beef, tomato sauce, tomato paste, sugar and water.
5. Let simmer until beef is tender about 2 hours. Add more water to stew as necessary.
6. When beef is fork tender, add the rest of the ingredients.
7. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
8. Serve hot.

Makes 12 to 15 servings.

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