Sunday, January 9, 2011

Carne Con Papa (Cuban Beef and Potato Stew)

Carne Con Papa literally translates to "Meat and Potatoes" is a very typical and common Cuban beef dish, it's one of those that are up there along the "Picadillo" (ground beef hash), "Ropa Vieja" (stewed shredded beef), "Rabo Encendido" (oxtail stew)

So what makes it Cuban you may ask? The answer is that the beef is cooked with a combination of onions, green bell peppers, and garlic cooked down in olive oil or lard which is the base for most Cuban dishes we call this "sofrito", and it is stewed with tomato and wine a very common thing that is present in almost all of our meat stews. In addition it is married with potatoes a starchy tuber we all know (and starchy veggies are very much appreciated in Cuban cuisine taro, yuca, calabaza, etc.) and the final thing that makes this stew Cuban is that it is spiced with cumin, which was introduced by the Spanish and Portuguese during colonizations and became popular in Cuba. However it is also identical or similar to many of the meat stews made by the Spanish (specially those from Canary Islands and some parts of Northern Spain to no surprise, being that a lot of Cuban cooking specially that of my family and other white or Spanish Cubans is very intertwined with the Cuisine of Spain and share many dishes)

Anyways :D today I present my Tata's version (my grandma's) :) it is very rustic, simple, authentic, typical, straight forward and delicious just the way Carne Con Papa should be. You end up with chunks of beef and potato in a smokey savory tomato based sauce. The sauce get's the smoked flavor from the browning of the meat that is de-glazed using tomato and wine, and kissed with a touch of cumin which gives it that extra oomph and depth but without over powering the dish, just subtle and marries well. This goes perfect over white rice :)


-2 lbs. beef stew meat cut into 1 inch chunks
-1/2 large green bell pepper chopped
-1 onion chopped
-5 cloves garlic (mashed to a paste mortar or garlic press)
-1 can 8 oz. tomato sauce
-1 cup water
-1/2 cup dry white wine (optional)
-salt to taste (about 2 tsp.)
-1 tsp. ground cumin
-4 regular potatoes peeled, cut in half


(1) Heat olive oil on medium high heat, add the cubed beef lightly seasoned with salt, stir. The beef will release a lot of liquid usually do not freak out just raise the heat to high and stir occasionally and let it reduce at some point everything will evaporate and lower heat to medium high and it will start browning.
(2) When meat is browned add diced onions, bell peppers and stir let cook down about 5 minutes. Add minced garlic cook another 1-2 minutes until garlic is fragrant.
(3) Stir in tomato sauce, water, dry white wine, ground cumin, and bring to a rolling boil, taste it if it needs more salt or not. Cover and simmer on medium low for about 1 hour or until meat is as tender as you'd like.
(4) Uncover and when meat is tender add potatoes,
cover an additional 20- 30 minutes until potato is fully cooked.
(5) Turn off heat, enjoy with some fluffy white rice, and a side of black beans if you'd like and salad.
If you liked this recipe, you may also want to check out my grandmother's alternative to this "Carne Con Papa" which she calls the same as this one, the only difference is she cooks a whole, un-cut, well cleaned, boneless chuck steak that is about 2 1/2 lbs. in the same fashion but uses red wine, a mix of red and green peppers, and large chunks of potatoes and carrot. It is worth checking out see the post for it below:

Also if you'd like to help me out please vote for me to win a chance to have my own recording and be feautured on the cooking show Delicioso on "Univision" by voting for me in the below link. It is one of my dreams to be in something like that :)