I always knew Filipino food is one cuisine I would enjoy with gusto, with those curries and stews simmering for hours. It seems I am forever on the lookout for new styles of curries.
A large bowl of stew or curry on my table is something I look forward to at the end of the day, and this Chicken Caldereta is no exception… I guess old habits die hard.
Somehow I had never been in the vicinity of good Pinoy food. Thanks to my son, I finally tasted some of their delicacies. Noah decided to come into this world two and half months early, in Las Vegas of all places! Yes, you heard right, he is Nevada born. In the middle of conducting tour groups, this gypsy delivered her first child shortly after taking flight from San Francisco to Vegas. While my group was waiting for me to welcome them at the hotel, I was taking a cab to the ER!
It seems very unreal now, but we were stuck in Vegas for three months while Noah was growing in the NICU. We’re not much of gamblers (though we got our small little jackpot). So, what you to do in this sin city?? Food! Vegas is a Mecca for food lovers and has some of the best food in the world.
During our daily hospital rounds we discovered a little Filipino restaurant that had an awesome lunch buffet. Many afternoons we would walk there for some a break from the NICU and try our first tastes of their Asados, Afridatas, Menudos, Lumpias, Pancits… we loved these new flavors and kept on going back for more.
Fast forward a year and life is back to normal in our coastal town. Every now and then we start getting nostalgic about some of the crazy flavors from Vegas. We do love our ethnic foods. Surrounded mostly by seafood restaurants in our small town, I have no choice but to experiment myself when I want to try our new found cuisine. I decided to try Chicken Caldereta first, as I remember always going back for that one at the lunch buffet.
What is Caldereta?
The name Caldereta comes from Spanish word “caldera”, meaning cooking pot. Yes, Filipino cooking has lot of Spanish influence, as once upon a time it was a Spanish colony, and some of that heritage still peeks into their mainstream dishes.
Caldereta, or Kaldereta, is traditionally made with goat or beef in a rich spicy tomato based stew along with some good old veggies like potatoes, carrots, bell peppers, even peas. Basically whatever you find in your refrigerator that particular day. As with any recipe, this ones comes with so many versions. The one that got me salivating in my Vegas days had coconut milk. I must confess, the dish traditionally has liver paste but I am skipping it. Perhaps I am committing a culinary sin by omitting it, but we are simply not much into eating offal.
Personally, I would love to cook this stew with goat meat. I love… love to the moon and back kind of love… my goat. It’s such a beautiful meat but crash, boom, bang goes my heart, goat is simply not popular here and you can hardly find it in mainstream grocery stores.
So, poor me is left with some chicken… Of course some bone in thighs or legs, pahlleezzzz. You can get away with whole chicken, but I want nice succulent meat cooking for a long time in this saucy stew. Any kind of stew or curry is best with that darker fattier meat of legs and thighs. I like to remove the skin whenever stewing, otherwise it just gets slimy.
So, what goes in Chicken Caldereta?
- Loads of veggies: I am using onions, tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, peas and a mix of different colored bell peppers.
- Garlic: Of course, I love my garlic!
- Chicken: I prefer bone-in thighs with the skin removed.
- Coconut milk: For that delicious creaminess.
- Chicken broth: I use Better than Bouillon, it’s easy and so much better then cubes.
- Sauces, Spices and Seasonings: Tomato sauce, soy sauce, white vinegar, lemon juice, bay leaves, chili peppers, star anise, and salt & pepper.
All of this will simmer for hour or so. Yes, good stews take time.
How to make Chicken Caldereta…
Marinate chicken pieces with salt, pepper, lemon juice, soy sauce and, bay leaves for at least 30 minutes. The more the better, as I always say about marinating.
When it’s time to cook, sauté onions until translucent. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant. Then it’s time for diced tomatoes and marinated chicken. Stir and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add hot chili pepper, bay leaves, star anise, vinegar, tomato sauce and bouillon. Pour in 1.5 cups water, stir, cover and simmer 10 minutes.
Add in your robust potatoes and carrots and again simmer covered 10 minutes. Now time to add coconut milk and back to cover and simmer. Yes… sometimes when simmering these stews like the do not disturb sign.
Once chicken is fall-off-the-bone, about 30-40 minutes, add bell peppers and green peas. Cook 10 minutes more. I like all those veggies in there. You can skip some if not available, it’s your pot after all!
The end result is so rich and delectable. One really needs a huge pile of some nice fragrant boiled rice to accompany this Pinoy curry. A nice garnish of cilantro goes great too! Chicken Caldereta, our new found love. You are here to stay for a long, long time at the Beisers’ for sure!!
- Try different meats. Goat is most traditional, but beef or pork also work. I am thinking to try some shrimp caldereta!
- Veggies – add, subtract or substitute to your hearts content!
- As I mentioned, this dish is traditionally cooked with liver paste. If you want more authenticity, try adding 1/4 to 1/2 cup.
If you like, please leave comments! And be sure to subscribe so you never miss a recipe!
Chicken Caldereta, on my Gypsy Plate… Enjoy!
- 2.5 lbs chicken thighs
- 3 Tbsp cooking oil
- 1 14.5 oz can coconut milk
- 1.5 cup tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 cup green peas
- 1/2 green bell pepper
- 1/2 red bell pepper
- 1/2 yellow bell pepper
- 12-14 baby carrots
- 3 small potatoes, cubed
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- 3 Tbsp chopped garlic
- 1.5 cubes chicken bouillon or 1.5 tsp "Better then Bouillon"
- 2 Tbsp white vinegar
- 2 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1-2 hot chili peppers
- 1 star anis
- 2 bay leaves
- Salt to taste
- Pepper to taste
- Cilantro for garnish
- Marinate chicken at least 30 minutes with salt, pepper, bay leaves, soy sauce and lemon juice.
- Heat oil in large pan. Sauté onions until translucent.
- Add garlic, cook until fragrant.
- Add chicken and diced tomatoes, stir and cook 3-4 minutes.
- Add hot chili pepper, bay leaves, bouillon, star anise, vinegar, tomato sauce and 1.5 cups water. Stir, cover and simmer 10 minutes.
- Add potatoes and carrots, cover and simmer 10 minutes.
- Add coconut milk, cover and simmer until chicken is fall-off-the-bone-tender, approximately 30 minutes.
- Add bell peppers and peas, cook an additional 15 minutes.
- Serve over rice. Enjoy!
For a variation, try it with beef, pork or even goat!
Use whatever veggies you have around, be creative!
Makes great leftovers. As with most stews and curries, the flavors just get better the next day. Refridgerate for up to 3 days. You can also freeze it in an airtight container for a quick meal down the road, but for best quailty I would recommend freezing no more than 1 month.
Nutrition InformationYield 8 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 518Total Fat 32gSaturated Fat 16gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 15gCholesterol 182mgSodium 905mgCarbohydrates 25gFiber 4gSugar 6gProtein 39g
Nutrition information calculated by Nutritionix.
Check out my roundup of the world’s 40 best Curry Recipes!
Never miss a recipe!
Join the GypsyPlate mailing list and get easy dinner recipes right in your mailbox. From homestyle comfort food to exotic dishes from around the world.