Traipsing and eating my way through Spain inspired me to try and re-create some of the more memorable dishes that I enjoyed. Thanks to generous cooks sharing their recipes online, wonderful cooking apps like Epicurious, Cooking by the New York Times and of course the good old reliable Spanish cookbooks long lingering on my bookshelves, I have now been spending more time in the kitchen.
In popular Restaurante Ojeda in Burgos I tasted a very tender and hearty beef stew called Carrilleras de Vaca al Vino Tinto or Beef Cheeks in Red Wine. The beef cheeks were sliced and cooked in a robust and lusty red wine sauce.
I ordered the same dish in Barcelo Hotel in Bilbao where they served the beef cheeks whole and not sliced with a thick rich sauce that had been much reduced -- both versions were equally delicious and seemed easy enough to re-create.
Once I got home, I looked up the recipe for Carrilleras de Vaca al Vino Tinto. At my local Monterey store I was told they did not carry beef cheeks and if I wanted any, I would have to place an order -- and they were still not sure if they could get me any. Next time, I'll try the wet market where a butcher may have some beef cheeks.
Just for this first time, I settled for a cut frequently used in stews like beef shank or kalitiran.
Shank is nicely marbled with tendons and beef fat and works best in slow cooked dishes where the tendons melt and break down and thus add to the overall appetising taste.
To help cut some of the "heaviness" of beef, I used fresh rosemary. You also need whole garlic cloves, onions and good extra virgin olive oil.
Sauté the garlic and sliced onions and add the sliced beef. Cook till browned.
Add one whole bottle of red wine, the rosemary sprigs and one bay leaf. Cover and let simmer until
meat is fork tender -- my one kilo of beef took about 3 hours to cook to my desired doneness.
At the very last minute, I added olives to my stew. Fried potato wedges go well on the side.
I used Spanish wine but some of the recipes I read also called for some brandy or sherry in addition to the wine. My version of Beef Stew in Red Wine sauce was much appreciated at the dinner table.
We enjoyed it with slices of a crusty baguette but it also tastes just as yummy eaten with hot rice!
Here's how I made my Pinoy version of this Spanish Beef Stew:
1 kilo beef kalitiran or any other cut good for stewing
1 bottle of red wine
Garlic, onions, bay leaf, rosemary
Extra virgin olive oil
How to cook
Slice beef into thick cuts.
Saute garlic and onions till translucent.
Add beef and fry till golden brown. Season with salt and pepper.
Add one bottle of red wine and let simmer until slightly reduced.
Midway into cooking, add beef broth, one cup at the start and more as needed, depending on how
thin or thick you want your sauce to be.
Just before you take the stew off the stove, add some olives if desired.
Serve warm with a baguette or sourdough bread.