My Vavô had Portuguese soup for supper every night when he got home from work, but Sunday’s were reserved for his favorite meal… Beef Stew. In St. Michael meat was expensive, much too expensive to have on a regular basis. So, when the family moved to the United States and a better life was set before them, my Vavô worked hard to achieve that better life for his family and to enjoy such luxuries in life as Beef Stew on Sundays.
Fernando Mota, my Vavô, achieved what he wanted for his family, he bought a home, became a U.S. citizen, paid taxes, raised three children, had several grandchildren and a few great-grandchildren before he passed away. He achieved the American dream in every sense of the term. Now all three of his children continue what he began by working hard, owning homes and helping their children and grandchildren to achieve the same and better. I wish my children could sit at a table with their great grandparents and enjoy a big bowl of Beef Stew. But, the next best thing is to chronicle these little details of my grandparents lives for them to learn about as they grow up. And food is a wonderful place to begin that journey of remembering and telling family stories. I like to use food as a vehicle to help my children to stay rooted in their heritage.
My family’s Beef Stew recipe is a melt in your mouth favorite, meant to be enjoyed with a good piece of Portuguese bread to sop up the molho (gravy/broth). You won’t find vegetables as you might in a traditional American Beef Stew, it’s made up of mainly meat and potatoes. And the flavors are out of this world with pepper, onion, garlic and spices. Take a look and see how we do it…
Start by taking your meat out of the fridge… you want it to come to room temperature. This dinner is meant for my small family, so I used just over a pound of chopped up beef, the packaging said “stew meat”.
Start preparing your ingredients by dicing one med/large onion.
1/2 lb. or 1 link of hot portuguese chouriço. If you like things a little less spicy, mild is fine too.
Peel the chouriço.
Collect about 8 or 9 medium all-purpose potatoes. Nothing fancy here.
Chop them up.
And finally… One large clove of garlic.
Add some olive oil to a large pot and heat over medium heat.
Add your onions in.
Next, add in your chouriço.
Add in your meat before you add in any liquid… sautée.
Add garlic to the pot.
Use 1/2 tsp. of Portuguese Allspice.
Add in one heaping Tbs. of crushed red pepper. This is not a terribly spicy pepper, it has some kick, but definitely mild in comparison to some hot sauces out there.
Add in potatoes.
Add in one full beer then refill that bottle with water and add in.
You should come right up to the top of your meat and potatoes with liquid, if it’s a little over, don’t worry, it will all soak in nicely.
Add in 1/2 a small can of tomato sauce.
Add in a pinch of salt to help with the seasoning of the potatoes, but don’t go nuts here, the pepper and the chouriço both have a good amount of salt in them as it is.
Simmer with the lid on over a med/low burner.
You should stir this every once in a while throughout the simmer.
In order to make this recipe work, this next part is essential. You need to cook this low and slow not only until the potatoes are tender, but until they just about fall apart on you. It’s the starch from the potato that brings the thickness to the molho (gravy/broth). Once the potatoes cook as described, taste for salt.
Recipe for Portuguese Beef Stew (Carne Guisada):
2 lbs. chopped stew meat
1/2 lb. Portuguese hot chouriço, sliced
1 med/lg. onion, diced
1 clove fresh garlic, crushed and peeled
8-9 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
12 oz beer (or red wine for gluten-free preparation)
12 oz water
1/2 small 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 heaping Tbs. crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp Portuguese Allspice
pinch of salt
(additional cooking water may be needed to keep moist during the cooking process)
Once all the ingredients are prepped, heat a large pot with a few Tbs. olive oil over medium heat. Add in onions, sautée for a couple minutes. Add in chouriço and stew meat. Stir. Add in Allspice, garlic, and pepper, stir. Add in potatoes, beer, water, salt and tomato sauce. Stir. Cover and simmer over a med/low burner stirring about every 10 minutes or so. Cook for at least 1 – 1 1/2 hours until potatoes are extremely tender. (If during that hour and a half you see that it is starting to get dry before the potatoes are very well cooked, add in additional water, beer or wine accordingly)
Enjoy with a fresh Portuguese roll!
*note: This is a gluten-free recipe with the swapping out of beer for wine or as always gluten-free beer.
*note: to make your own Portuguese Allspice: combine 1/2 cup plain paprika (not smoked or spicy), 1 tsp. garlic powder, 1 tsp turmeric and 1/2 tsp. grated orange rind
*note: this can easily be made in a slow cooker, 8 hrs on low, just be sure when it is done, potatoes are beyond tender