Friday, November 6, 2009

Guiso de Carne Con Platano (Cuban Beef and Plantain Stew)

I personally never cooked this at home, I was flipping through one of my Cuban cookbooks "Memories of a Cuban Kitchen" by Mary Urrutia Randelman whom is a Cuban exile from pre- castro Havana, Cuba and has very delicious recipes. Anyways I bumped into this beef and plantain stew she called "Carne Guisada Con Platano" (pg. 129) in the book and had some plantains sitting on the counter top and a large amount of beef chuck so I said, "Why not sounds interesting" of course I did it my way, I only used her recipe as a guideline and inspiration. I use the same spices just different proportions, use lard instead of olive oil (trust me it goes really well here, lard gives Cuban meat dishes a wonderful taste), less wine, don't use beef stock (for what I didn't have it on hand and the beef is gonna boil for a long time in the sauce so there's your beefy flavor) and add a generous amount of cilantro and leave wiggle room for any other changes which I think are fine.

The semi sweet, semi-ripe plantains give it a nice sweetness and plantain taste, BUT and it's a big BUT (haha just kidding) I know some aren't fond of sweet in their dishes, so one could easily use green plantains and end up with a delicious stew, or leftover Tostones or heck if you have the time fry tostones just to add to it (although if you go through the trouble of making them shouldn't you just eat them as a side?)

-1/2 cup lard or olive oil (I use lard)
-4 1/2 lbs. beef chuck cut into 2 inch pieces (you can use beef stew meat to)
-salt to taste
-ground black pepper to taste (I use about 1 teaspoon)
-2 medium onions minced
-2 medium green bell peppers minced
-1 head of garlic mashed (garlic press or mortar)
-1 cup dry white wine
-2 cans 8 oz ounces each tomato sauce
-water (enough to cover meat)
-1 teaspoon dried oregano
-3-4 bay leaves
-1 tablespoon ground cumin
-1 tablespoons sweet smoked Spanish paprika (optional use it if you have it though)
-6 large semi-ripe plantains peeled cut into 2 inch rounds (yellow or yellow with black spots)
-1 large bunch of cilantro, washed, chopped up finely

(1) Pat- dry meat, heat a very large shallow pan on very high heat, when pan is super hot add lard, melt it until it slightly smokes, add beef all in one layer, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Brown meat in lard (this may take a long time, depending on how much liquid your meat releases it took me about 20- 30 minutes)

(2) Meanwhile prep everything, when meat is browned sautee onions, bell pepper about 7 minutes on medium high, add garlic stir until fragrant, deglaze with wine, add tomato sauce and water bring to a rolling boil.

(3) Now add more salt if nesseccary, throw all the spices (cumin, sweet smoked spanish paprika and bay leaves), bring to a rolling boil, cover and simmer on low for about 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours.(4) When meat is tender add plantains, cover and cook an additional 30 minutes, add more water if nesseccary. Finally when plantains are tender stir in cilantro.
(5) Serve with fluffy white rice and whatever sides you'd like :)
I cooked a really large amount you can cut the recipe in half. The reason I cooked so much is because I want leftovers to take to school with me for lunch.

(2) I REPEAT Some people don't like semi-ripe plantains because of the sweetness they impart. You can substitute the semi-ripe plantains for green plantains. Or even if you want to go through the trouble you can add Tostones instead to soak up the deliciousness in that case simmer only 5- 10 minutes instead of 30.

(3) You can use pork instead of beef.