Stew nights… One of my absolute favorite eat till you drop nights. Let me give you the biggest flavor bomb out of the Caribbean, Carne Guisada, Puerto Rican style.
So much flavor in every single tender meat chunk. Why not? There is plenty of their famous flavor enhancers like sofrito, Sazon, adobo, and olives. Yes, olives.
All of these are huge game changers for your stew night. Try this delicious hearty beef stew tonight and I know you are going to bookmark this for life.
We have been cooking this Carne Guisada for years now, as I stumbled upon the “Guisada” name on YouTube some years back.
We first tried Dominican style Pollo Guisado, which is Chicken stew, and fell in love head over heels with the tremendous flavors. So we started trying other stews from neighboring Caribbean countries.
All these Latin island countries have their own little spin on the stew part, but all of them are jam packed with flavors.
What is Carne Guisada?
Carne Guisada is a Latin meat stew. Carne in Spanish means “meat” and Guisada is “stewed”, so it literally translates to “Stewed Meat”.
Tough and chewy cuts of meat are braised or simmered in flavorful sauce for hours till they melt in your mouth. That’s the whole idea, like any other stew.
But what makes this stew different than others is the use of their flavorful ingredients. Now depending on the country , these flavor enhancers can vary greatly.
The way a Puerto Rican makes a Carne Guisada could be way different than a Guisada you will find in some Mexican or Dominican household.
What’s the Difference Between Mexican and Puerto Rican Beef Stew?
The main difference in creating the stew is the use of sofrito in Puerto Rican dishes, while in Mexican stew it’s mostly an onion and tomato based sauce with their favorite type of chilis.
Sofrito is a cooking base used in Puerto Rican cuisine made of vegetables and herbs like bell peppers, onion, cilantro, culantro and garlic. We have a great recipe for sofrito on GypsyPlate that we always make in bulk for all my Puerto Rican dishes.
You MUST have sofrito in your kitchen if you’re planning any PR dish… period.
Another prominent difference is use of olives in Puerto Rican stews, which is not the norm in Mexican stews.
Puerto Rican Beef Stew
Carne Guisada Puertorriqueña, as locals lovingly refer to it, is undoubtedly one of their most popular meat dishes. It’s a hearty beef stew with carrots and potatoes, and sometimes other veggies like peppers and onions.
Additionally, it’s flavored with a cooking base of sofrito, adobo, sazon, bay leaves and olives. It’s typically cooked for a few hours to blend the flavors and to tenderize the meat.
Puerto Rican food is a hybrid of many cultures like the indigenous Taino people of the Caribbean, the Spanish colonizers, and African slaves.
Popular meals in Puerto Rico have various roots from numerous ethnic groups that immigrated to this country long ago from places in Africa, Europe and other Central and South American countries.
These amazing flavors come from their liberal use of special seasonings.
To create this Puerto Rican style beef stew, these 3 ingredients are inevitable… and a MUST:
1. Sofrito: Sofrito is a cooking base used in a variety of Puerto Rican dishes like Arroz con Gandules, their famous rice and pigeon peas, their bean dishes like Habichuelas Guisadas, and the rest of their stews and soups.
This herbaceous base is made by blending green bell pepper, sweet peppers, onion, garlic, cilantro and culantro (an herb with a similar taste and aroma to cilantro).
You can buy sofrito in the Latin aisle of your grocery store or online. But there is nothing like fresh, vibrant homemade sofrito. Please go through our detailed post for Sofrito and keep it ready in your freezer. You will be amazed how much of a flavor bomb it is.
2. Adobo Seasoning: Adobo is Latin seasoning salt. It is a blend that typically includes kosher salt, black pepper, dried oregano, garlic powder, and ground turmeric. This is another staple easily found in your grocery store. We like our Goya Adobo seasoning.
3. Sazon Seasoning: This blend is a Latin favorite for flavoring rice, soups, and stew. Additionally, with its ground annatto seeds, it adds beautiful color to many dishes. Look for Goya brand Sazon Con Culantro Y Achio (with Coriander & Annatto) in your grocery store.
From Here, the Rest of the Ingredients are Mostly Like Any Other Stew
- Beef – marbled, fattier cut of chuck roast is best for any kind of stew. Cut it into bite sized chunks.
- Spices – cumin, oregano, bay leaves.
- Tomato sauce
- Veggies – carrots and potatoes.
- Flavor enhancers – garlic, cilantro, olives.
How to Make Carne Guisada
1. Brown the Beef: Creating this stew is relatively simple. It begins with browning the meat. Season the beef with cumin, oregano and adobo, along with flour. Heat oil in a dutch oven or a large stew pot and sear the beef until brown on all sides. Work in batches, not overcrowding the pan, to avoid steaming. Plate the beef chunks out.
2. Get the Flavors Started: In the same pan, add in sofrito and sauté for a couple of minutes. Add in chopped garlic and cilantro and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add tomato sauce, sazon, cumin, oregano and combine well.
3. Simmer for a While: Add the beef along with 3-4 cups of water, bay leaves and bring this to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Add in carrots and olives and keep on simmering, covered, for an hour or more, until the meat is melt in your mouth tender. Stir occasionally. While it’s simmering, check out our roundup of favorite Puerto Rican recipes.
4. Finalize the Stew: Add in potatoes for the last 20-25 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning by adding salt or adobo to your liking. If you want a thicker stew, cook it uncovered towards the end.
We personally are perfectly happy with a plateful of white rice covered generously with this rich and hearty beef stew.
Carne Guisada is served with tortillas in Mexico, and American states closer to Mexico.
Can I Make It In A Crock Pot?
Yes, like other soups and stews, a crockpot will make this beef stew beautifully. Just season the beef with seasonings mentioned above and sear it brown on all sides. Add in beef pieces, potatoes, carrots, sofrito, sazon, chopped garlic, chopped cilantro, tomato sauce, cumin, oregano, bay leaves, olives and 3-4 cups of water in a crock pot.
Cover and cook for 7-8 hours on low, or 4-5 hours on high, until the meat is melt in your mouth tender. Taste for salt and adjust according to your taste.
Instant Pot Instructions
Season the meat as mentioned above and sear it brown using the Saute feature in your Instant Pot. Plate the meat out. Add in more oil if necessary and add in sofrito and sauté for a couple of minutes. Add garlic and cilantro and sauté for 2-3 minutes.
Add in tomato sauce, sazon, cumin, oregano and combine well. Add in beef along with 3-4 cups of water and bay leaves.
Cover pressure cooker. When the lid is locked, cook on high pressure 45 minutes. Quick release.
Add the potatoes, carrots and olives. Cover and cook on high pressure about 8-10 minutes, or until tender. Quick release and serve. This way, the potatoes and carrots don’t turn to mush when the stew is ready.
Leftovers and Storage
Make a big batch and enjoy this delicious stew for a few days, as it keeps on getting better. Store it in an air tight container up to 3-4 days in the refrigerator.
This freezes beautifully too, up to 3-4 months. Simply thaw and reheat it on the stovetop, adding a dash of water or beef stock if necessary.
- Browning the Beef: Sear the beef chunks in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan. This ensures each piece gets a beautiful, caramelized exterior which adds depth to the flavor of the stew.
- Use a Heavy Pot: A heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven is ideal for making stews like Carne Guisada. It distributes heat evenly and keeps the temperature consistent.
- Simmer Slowly: The key to tender, flavorful Carne Guisada is slow cooking. Allow the stew to simmer gently, rushing this process can result in tough meat.
- Thickness of the Stew: If you prefer a thicker stew, remove the lid during the last 20-30 minutes of cooking. This allows excess liquid to evaporate. For a thinner stew, add a bit more water.
- Resting Time: Let the stew rest for a few minutes off the heat before serving. This allows the flavors to meld together even more.
Get these Latin flavors going with one of the best comfort foods from the Caribbean. Get amazed how beautifully olives go in your pot of stew.
Start making sofrito, fry some tostones, and enjoy this melt in your mouth beef stew over a plateful of rice.
Puerto Rican Carne Guisada, on our Gypsy Plate… enjoy!
To Season Beef
- 2-2.5 pounds chuck roast, cut into bite sized chunks
- 2 tsp cumin
- 2 tsp oregano
- 1.5 tsp adobo
- 2 Tbsp flour
For the Stew
- 2-3 Tbsp oil
- 6 Tbsp sofrito (see note 1)
- 2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- 1 packet Sazon, culantro y achiote
- 1 tsp oregano
- ½ tsp cumin
- 2 carrots, peeled and diced
- ½ cup olives
- 2 bay leaves
- 7-8 baby potatoes, halved (or 1 large potato cut into chunks)
- salt or adobo to taste
- Season the beef with all seasonings and flour
- Heat oil in a pan and sear the beef until brown on all sides. Work in batches not, overcrowding the pan. Plate the beef chinks out.
- In the same pan, add sofrito and sauté for a couple of minutes. Add in chopped garlic and cilantro and sauté for 2-3 minutes.
- Add in tomato sauce, sazon seasoning, cumin, oregano and combine well.
- Add in beef along with bay leaves and 3-4 cups of water. Bring this to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and cook for 10 minutes.
- Add in carrots and olives and keep on simmering, covered, for an hour or more, until the meat is melt in your mouth tender. Stir occasionally.
- Add potatoes for the last 20-25 minutes of cooking time. If you want thicker stew, cook it uncovered towards the end.
- For a quick sofrito, blend 1 green bell pepper, 1 cubanelle pepper (optional), 1 small onion, 5-6 garlic cloves, 1 cup of cilantro, 4-5 leaves culantro (optional) in a blender.
Nutrition InformationYield 6 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 509Total Fat 32gSaturated Fat 10gTrans Fat 1gUnsaturated Fat 18gCholesterol 126mgSodium 668mgCarbohydrates 16gFiber 3gSugar 3gProtein 41g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Welcome to GypsyPlate! I'm Alpana, former wordwide tour manager and professional caterer, now full time blogger. I love exploring cuisines from around the world, and my recipes have been featured on sites such as MSN, Parade, Brit + Co, CNET and AOL. You can explore my entire collection of sortable recipes in my Recipe Index or learn more about me here.
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