Portuguese Beef Stew (Carne Guisada)


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.

Peel them.

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 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):

(serves 4)

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

olive oil

(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

25 thoughts on “Portuguese Beef Stew (Carne Guisada)

    • Stacy says:

      They are ground peppers that have been natually cooked in salt and then preserved in jars… I make my own each season and will be sharing a post on how to do it yourself in a couple of weeks. However any place that sells Portuguese or latin foods should have it in a glass jar available to you. The heat level very much varies from brand to brand, mine is mild and not so spicy, but others are a bit more lethal… just know what you are using before you add it to a recipe… To further answer your question, Gonsalves makes a good one… You can also call Portugalia Marketplace in Fall River, MA to find it and have it shipped. It is worth having in your fridge, once opened, it will keep for up to a year. IF none of these options appeal to you, you could do a quick version by grinding up a medium hot type of pepper and mixing with salt… let sit in a covered sauce pan overnight. (this version won’t keep longer than a week unless you freeze it, but it’s a good substitute for this and many of my recipes)

    • Stacy says:

      It is a combination of spices to make yourself: 1/2 cup plain paprika (not smoked, not spicy), 1 tsp. garlic powder, 1 tsp turmeric, 1/2 tsp ground orange rind.

      • Sandra says:

        Thank you Stacy. I’m originally from Fall River, Mass. I’ve lived in Florida now for 15 years. I’ve done a lot of Portuguese cooking but have never heard of Portuguese allspice. I will be making up a batch immediately . You’ve brought back great memories of some of the best food and flavors on the planet. Every time I visit back home, the first thing I do is eat,eat,eat some Portuguese food! Your blog is great. Thanks and God bless!

        • Stacy says:

          Thank you so much! And welcome to my site! It is my goal to help people to relive the ‘good old days’ with these recipes and help people who have lost so many family recipes to find them again. Please subscribe to the page to get all my posts sent right to your inbox and like me on facebook for even more extras on Portuguese-American life and culture!

    • Stacy says:

      I’m not positive if it does, but I would not think so… I know I don’t use any vinegar at all in mine… these peppers are not pickled, they are preserved with salt and a preserving powder.

  1. Michelle says:

    I get the Pastene crushed red pepper jar. It’s usually in the aisle with the pepperoncini and pickles. At least it is here in New England!!! And this recipe is amazing!!! Thank you so much!!!

    • Stacy says:

      Sounds great! As long as it’s wet red pepper, you’re good to go, just watch how much heat is in it… adjust to your taste, mine is fairly mild. Let me know how you make out!

  2. Patricia Guillaume says:

    This recipe looks good. Unfortunately we can’t find Portuguese chourico here but maybe in a gourmet shop I might find chorizo which might do. My grand-father from Madeira attempted to bring in chourico from Madeira here by ship on our first visit and the customs confiscated it. Bom dia! I am sure Avo made something similar here when she was alive. Obrigada!

    • Stacy says:

      You are very welcome! I love hearing stories like this! But, so sorry the chourico didn’t make it… If you would like to have chourico shipped directly to you contact either Michaels Provisions (this is what I use regularly) in Fall River, MA… give them a call and they will freeze dry ship it right to you! Good luck!

  3. Karen & Ralph Motta says:

    Found your comments very interesting – my husband’s grandfather was also from St. Michael and their name was da Mota. When they came to the US it was changed to Motta and they settled in East Providence, RI. We live in the San Diego, CA area. We will definitely be trying some of your recipes!

    • Stacy says:

      Wow, small world! We Portuguese are everywhere aren’t we? Hey, maybe we are related, you never know… they say if you are Portuguese you can find a cousin almost anywhere! My Vavo was from the village Lombinha de Maia in St. Michael… have you ever visited St. Michael?

    • Stacy says:

      There isn’t, sorry about that… hopefully that will be coming soon… However, if you subscribe to the site, all the recipes will be sent right to your inbox and you will be able to easily print from there 🙂

  4. Lynn Trudelle says:

    Planning on making this today, so I hope I can get an answer asap. I don’t have crushed red pepper but I do have garlic marinade (Vinha d’Alho.—what it says on jar!) Would this be a good substitute? Also it says to stir every 10 minutes. For the whole hour , hour and a half?

    • Stacy says:

      Although the garlic marinade sounds lovely, it would not be a good substitute for crushed red pepper… If you are looking to substitute and you aren’t finding anything similar in your latin foods aisle, check for red pepper chili paste in your asian section. (beware as this is significantly more spicy than the pepper I am using in this recipe, but it’s the closest) beyond that, you could grap a couple of pablano chilis, if you can find red ones all the better… grind or shred them, mix with about 1 tablespoon of salt and let sit for a minimum of one hour. My third option for you is to reconstitute some dry red pepper flakes and use that. Soak 1 tablespoon of dry red pepper flakes in 2 tablespoons of hot water for about 1 hour (use only 1 tsp in dish)
      As for the mixing, you don’t want this to burn, you want to keep an eye on the heat level… so if 10 minutes is too much move it to every 15 mins or so, but yes, it needs to be watched.

  5. Lynn Trudelle says:

    Stacy, Thank you so much for your suggestions. I did the 3rd option and was very pleased. Hmmmm….yum! 🙂 I stirred every 10, 15 minutes also. This recipe is a keeper!

    • Stacy says:

      Oh I’m so glad you liked it! I will be doing a recipe and tutorial on how to jar your own ground pepper soon! Sign up on the right hand side of the page to subscribe to the blog so you never miss a post! 🙂

  6. Selina J Knapp says:

    I live in California parents are from sao Jorge acores. Making this dish in crock pot .how different is the portuguese allspice from McCormick?

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