Saturday, December 15, 2012

COOKING CALDERETANG BAKA


I was going to a potluck party to celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, patroness of my hometown, Ozamiz City, and the school where I finished my elementary and high school studies. Most everyone was bringing either a pork dish or a dessert, so I decided to bring caldereta.

Problem was, I didn’t know how to cook this dish. I’d eaten a number of versions, my Lola Inday’s being my favorite. There was the carinderia or cafeteria version, the Mama Sita version, and the Batangas version. I particularly like my Lola’s, because it was rich, savory and the one I grew up on. I also favor the Batangas version, which is almost all-meat, and the sauce is mostly beef fat. I had no time to get my Lola’s recipe so I went to my friend Connie Santiago-Veneracion’s hugely popular and successful website to look up her recipe. I like Connie’s recipes, least of all because she is a friend, but because her recipes are fool-proof, delicious and tested personally by her. I tweaked her recipe a bit, adding yellow and green peppers to contrast with the red sauce, reducing the amount of the liver and using beer instead of water to tenderize the beef. I also amped up the garlic and baked the potatoes instead of frying them. I’m too lazy to be watching over frying potatoes. I find baking more efficient because I don’t have to watch the cooking, but also because I can bake the potatoes and liver at the same time. You can substitute the liver with chicken liver spread but fresh liver is cheaper AND tastier.

CALDERETANG BAKA (6 servings)

1 kilo / 2.2 lbs. beef (chuck. Ask your butcher to cut the beef for you. Saves you a lot of time)
2 large white onions, finely chopped (I used a mandolin because I have no knife skills)
1 kilo / 2.2 lbs. fresh tomatoes, finely chopped (best to use overripe plum tomatoes. Again, I relied on the mandolin to slice the tomatoes) OR
1 can (33 1/2 oz.) of diced or crushed tomatoes. Choose Spanish or Italian brands)
3 heads of garlic, minced (I pounded them using a mortar and pestle, peeled them, and let the food processor do the rest)
2 medium pcs. yellow bell peppers, chopped
2 medium pcs. green bell peppers, chopped
3 cups chopped carrots or baby carrots
½ cup tomato paste
1 bay leaf
Extra virgin olive oil
1/8 kilo / ¼ lb. chicken livers
5 medium pcs. potatoes, cut into large cubes
2-3 cups water (or a bottle of beer. Choose a lager or pilsen. If using a dark beer, you may choose to omit the chicken liver. Another option is to use red wine. I prefer a hearty Shiraz)
1 cup seedless green olives
1 medium piece jalapeño pepper or siling labuyo (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

1.              Cut the beef into 2″ chunks, season with salt and pepper and sear in a heavy sauce pan or Dutch oven. Remove seared meat from the pan or Dutch oven, and sauté the garlic just before it turns golden brown, then sauté the onions for about 7 minutes. Add the tomatoes. Stir, cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir and simmer for another 5 minutes.


Brown the meat in batches, not in one go.

The beer was so tempting to drink. But I stayed disciplined.

The tomatoes looked really good. I like using fresh instead of canned tomatoes, which tend to be more acidic. 


The stew, after about an hour of simmering.

The finished product. I'm proud to say that this 7-quart pot was eaten up, with only the veggies to pack home.


2.              Add the beef and bay leaf to the cooked vegetables. Pour in the liquid (water, beer or wine). Add the tomato paste, stir well and bring to a boil.

3.              Lower the heat, cover and simmer. After an hour, add the carrots, olives and bell pepper. Simmer for one more hour or until the meat is fork tender. Stir occasionally during cooking. If the sauce becomes too dry before the meat is cooked, add more liquid (water, beer or wine), about half a cup at a time. Correct the seasonings.

4.              While the beef simmers, wash, peel and cut the potatoes into wedges. Season with salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil. Bake at 425F for 20 minutes.

5.              Clean the chicken livers, season with salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil.  Bake along with the potatoes. When cooked, blend or pass through a food processor with a little beer or sauce from the simmering caldereta until smooth.

6.              When the beef is cooked, add the broiled potatoes and mashed liver. Stir until the liver is incorporated into the sauce. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Adjust the seasonings. Drizzle olive oil before serving over warm rice or crusty bread.

3 comments:

Bel Castro said...

Joel! Leftovers with a little stock added can come back as a soup!

Joel Alinas-Nunez said...

What leftovers?

;-)

Joel Alinas-Nunez said...
This comment has been removed by the author.

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