To make this dish you will first need to make sofrito, which is the base seasoning of pretty much all Puerto Rican cooking.
This is not the most traditional recipe for sofrito but it’s not that far off the mark. It gets the job done and is made of ingredients most people can find. The main difference is that I’m only using cilantro in this one and traditionally we also use culantro, which is also known as saw tooth coriander. Culantro has an earthy, distinct, delicious flavor and if you can find it by all means add 4 leaves to this sofrito. I find it regularly at my local C Town so you might too! Also, we don’t normally use cherry tomatoes but they are the tomatoes I have on hand most often, specially when it’s not tomato season as they are reliably tart and sweet year round.
For the Sofrito
1/2 a medium Spanish onions, cut into large chunks
1 green pepper cored, seeded, and roughly chopped
1/4 cup of cherry tomatoes
1/2 large bunch cilantro, washed and roughly chopped
4 medium cloves garlic, peeled
1 Tablespoon Kosher salt
In a food processor, process the onions until they are coarsely chopped. Add the peper and tomatoes and pulse again. Add the cilantro, garlic, and salt and process until you have a very finely minced, salsa looking sauce.
For the Carne Guisada
Serves 2 to 3
1 1/2 lbs beef stew meat, cubed
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon dry oregano
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 cups water
1/2 small onion, diced
2 heaping teaspoons sofrito
1 bay leaf
1 can tomato sauce
1 cup red wine
1 potato, peeled and cubed
2 carrots, sliced
Season the meat with the garlic powder, cumin, oregano, pepper and salt a minimum of 1 hour before cooking but up to a day.
In a dutch oven or similar pot heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the meat and brown on all sides.
Cover with 8 cups of water add the onion, sofrito, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil then lower to a simmer. Cook for 1 hour spooning out any foam that rises to the top of the pot.
Chop the potato and carrot. Add to the pot along with the wine and tomato sauce and cook until the potatoes are tender- about 30-40 minutes.
Serve over rice
Serves 2 to 3
I like to make my rice with sushi rice. I find the glossy slightly sticky texture of sushi rice almost replicates the rice of my childhood, which was cooked with tocino aka pork fat. Here is how I get mine to be almost the same but vegetarian.
1 cup sushi rice (or medium grain)
1 1/2 cups water
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
The key here is the pot. You want to make it in a small enough pot that you get the right amount of steam. A 2 quart pot with a lid should be just right for this amount. If you double the rice go with a 4 quart pot.
I don’t rinse my rice. I just put it in the pot add the oil and salt, and stir it once, only once, and barely. Maybe this is a superstition but I find if you touch it more it will not be fluffy in the end.
Bring to a boil then put the lid on and lower the heat to just a smidge higher that the lowest setting. At this point I cook it for 20 minutes. Once the timer goes off I turn off the heat and leave it to steam for 10 minutes. Do not open the lid and let all the steam escape. After 10 minutes take the lid off and fluff the rice with a fork.