Beef Caldereta with beef cubes simmered to perfect tenderness in a spicy tomato sauce. Chockfull of potatoes, bell peppers, and green olives, this classic Filipino stew is hearty, tasty, and perfect for family dinners and special occasions.
G is not a hard man to cook for; serve him a bowlful of chili or a plateful of bacon and scrambled eggs for dinner and he's a happy camper. He's not a picky eater, but he's not adventurous either.
Almost a decade of shared life and I have yet to convince him to try our pinakbet or sinigang. You should see how his big blue eyes would widen in amazement every time I bust out the green mangoes and shrimp paste from the fridge!
But although he hasn't learned to appreciate Filipino food fully, he does like our adobo, pork BBQ, and this kalderatang baka. He loves to load up his steamed rice with the tender meat and potatoes and the thick spicy sauce!
What is Caldereta
Calderata, which comes from the word caldera meaning cauldron, is another example of the many Spanish influences in Filipino cuisine. While similar to afritada and mechado in preparation and use of tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, and bell peppers, this hearty beef stew also includes liver spread and shredded cheese to thicken the sauce and chili peppers to add spice.
Kaldereta is traditionally made of goat meat and usually prepared for holidays and special occasions. It's commonly served in parties and get-togethers as an appetizer (pulutan) to accompany beer or hard drinks. Over the years, however, the dish has evolved into a regular dinner fixture, making use of more accessible meats such as pork, chicken, and beef.
What Cuts of Beef to Use for Kalderetang Baka
For best results, use tough, leaner cuts from the front shoulder or the rear muscle which don't have a lot of fat but plenty of collagen-rich connective tissues.
I like bottom round for kalderata and other braised dishes but chuck, bottom eye, and rump roasts are also great choices. Not only are these meat less expensive, but they also break down into melt-in-your-mouth, richly-flavored bites over the low and slow cooking process.
Tips on How to Make Beef Caldereta
- Although most supermarkets sell already cut "beef stew" meat, I prefer to buy the whole roast and cut it myself. The packaged beef stew meat is usually made up of scraps from various cuts of beef and might cook quite differently.
- To make slicing the roast easier, freeze for a few minutes until partially firm. Cut into uniform sizes to ensure even cooking and trim off as much of the gristle which can be too tough to chew.
- Give the beef a nice sear to maximize flavor.
- I like to briefly pan-fry the potatoes and carrots; this simple step helps them hold shape and keep them from falling apart when simmered in the stew.
- If you want to tone down the spice, scrape off the seeds and veins of the chili peppers before mincing.
- ¼ cup canola oil
- 2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch cubes
- 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch cubes
- 1 onion, peeled and chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 2 pounds bottom round roast, cut into 2-inch cubes
- 2 cups tomato sauce
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 cups water
- 10 Thai chili peppers, minced
- ½ cup green olives, pitted
- ½ cup liver spread
- ½ cup cheddar cheese, shredded
- 1 small green bell pepper, seeded, cored and cut into cubes
- 1 small red bell pepper, seeded, cored and cut into cubes
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a wide pan over medium heat, heat oil. Add potatoes and carrots and cook until lightly browned. Remove from pot and drain on paper towels.
- Remove oil from the pan except for about 2 tablespoons. Add onions and garlic and cook until softened.
- Add beef and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned.
- Add tomato sauce, tomato paste, water, and chili peppers. Bring to a boil, skimming scum that may float on top.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Lower heat, cover, and cook for about 1 to 1 ½ hours or until beef is tender.
- Add potatoes, carrots, and continue to cook until tender.
- Add liver spread and cheese, stirring to combine until well-distributed. Continue to cook until cheese is melted and sauce is thickened.
- Add bell peppers and olives cook for another 1 to 2 minutes until tender yet crisp. Serve hot.