Mighty Meaty

Cocido – inspired beef stew

I was reading up on cocido and I found out that the traditional Spanish cocido is what we know in the Philippines as pochero. At least, it is the closest beef stew to the Spanish cocidogarbanzos (chick peas), cabbage wedges, potatoes, carrots and beef slow cooked in chopped onions, tomatoes and garlic. But we serve and eat pochero as a one-dish meal. The Spanish cocido is served both as a soup and an entree. The thick broth in which the meat and vegetables have been cooked is served as a soup while the meat is served on a platter surrounded by the cooked vegetables. That’s too much work for a busy mother like me. Suffice it to say that while this dish was inspired by the Spanish cocido, I will call it simply as cocido-inspired beef stew.

casaveneracion.com cocido: a meat stew

There are cuts of beef that are especially good for stewing. My favorite is batok (chuck). If unavailable, I use brisket, shank or shin.

Ingredients :

1 kilo of stewing beef
1 head of garlic
1 kilo of tomatoes
6 onions
2-3 pimientoes
1/2 kilo of potatoes
2 large carrots
a bunch of fresh basil (you can substitute dried)
2 chorizos de bilbao
1/3 c. of olive oil
salt and pepper

Cooking procedure :

The best way to cook this dish is to cut the beef into 2-inch cubes, brown them in olive oil then slow-cook them in chopped onions and tomatoes with a little water until tender.

To make the job easier, you can have the butcher cut the meat for you. But I didn’t buy the beef that I used in this dish — my husband did. And it was uncut when he brought it home. So, I did it the easier way. I simmered the beef in water for an hour, cooled it, then cut it into cubes. It’s even easier if you let the cooled beef sit in the fridge for a couple of hours before cutting. This procedure is friendlier to your arm and hand muscles, believe me.

So, whichever procedure you prefer, the easy or hard way, you need to cut the beef into 2-inch cubes.

Finely chop the garlic, fresh basil and 4 onions. Roughly chop the pimientoes. Cut the tomatoes into quarters. Slice the chorizos into 1/4-inch rings.

Heat the olive oil in a thick-bottomed cooking pan. Add the beef and cook until lightly browned. Add the chorizos, garlic, onions, tomatoes and pimientoes. Season with salt and pepper. Pour in about 3 cups of water (or broth if you pre-boiled the beef), bring to a boil, then lower the heat, cover and simmer for two hours (one hour if the beef had been pre-boiled) or until tender.

The liquid will evaporate during cooking (naturally) so you may need to add more broth or water occasionally — not too much, half a cup or so at a time is usually enough. Of course, if you want a very saucy stew (as my kids do), you can always add more liquid.

While the beef cooks, peel the potatoes and carrots and cut into wedges. Peel the remaining two onions and cut into eighths.

When the beef is almost done, about 15 to 20 minutes before cooking time is up, add the onions and the potato and carrot wedges. Adjust the seasonings towards the end of cooking time since the potatoes will absorb most of the salt in the sauce.

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