Caribbean Beef Stew - Carne Guisada

Beef Stew. Jules Morgan/Flickr
  • 3 hrs
  • Prep: 30 mins,
  • Cook: 2 hrs 30 mins
  • Yield: Serves 6
Ratings (8)

Carne guisada means "stewed meat" in Spanish, but the simple translation doesn't do this dish justice. Even the toughest cuts of beef will fall apart with the low, slow simmering action of this Dominican stew. The juices from the vegetables cook down into a thick sauce that's delicious, making a perfect, warming meal on a cold winter's night. 

What You'll Need

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 pounds beef stew meat cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 1 large cubanelle or green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 4 ajíes dulces, small sweet peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cups chopped cilantro leaves 
  • 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar 
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano 
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and chopped
  • One 15-ounce can peas
  • 1/2 pound potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 12 Spanish pimento-stuffed olives 
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste

How to Make It

  1. Brown the stew meat in the olive oil for about 20 minutes in a large soup pot over medium heat.
  2. Add the next 10 ingredients: the cubanelle pepper, ajíes dulces, onion, garlic, cilantro, vinegar, oregano, tomato sauce, bay leaves and salt.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 1 hour. The juices from the vegetables and tomato sauce should cook down into a thick sauce. You can add a little water if the sauce seems to be getting too thick.
  1. Turn the heat to medium after 1 hour. Add the last seven ingredients: the carrots, peas, potatoes, olives, capers, salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Reduce the heat to low when the stew begins to boil. Continue cooking over low heat for 1 more hour.

Tips and Variations

  • Serve the stew alone or with white rice, tostones and a tossed salad.
  • "Tougher" meats such as boneless beef chuck are fine for this recipe. There's no possibility that it won't melt in your mouth when the stew is done. 
  • Ajíes dulces are small sweet chili peppers. You can often find them in Spanish and Latin American markets. You can leave them out if they're not available to you locally, or substitute pimientos.
  • This beef stew is traditionally prepared in a cooking pot called a caldero, but you can use any heavy kettle. 
  • For a Puerto Rican touch, use substitute 2 tablespoons of the tomato sauce with 2 tablespoons sofrito, a tomato-pepper-garlic-onion-herb sauce. You can find sofrito in most large markets. 
  • Some regional versions of carne guisada use chicken or pork instead of beef. You can experiment to find the variation your family likes best or to accommodate anyone who prefers not to eat beef.