I reminisce the happy days with my late grandmother and I am not ashamed to admit that I was once a lola’s boy (grandma’s boy). Aside from numerous photos kept vibrant by her fondest memories, my grandma left me wonderful legacies that I still continue to relive up to these days. When mom died when I was only five, grandma never left by my side. Those days when she was supposed to retire and to slow down because of her age, she chose to become a mother to me and to my siblings. She might not be the best cook but she cooked very well. The best flavoring ingredient that she had always carried with her was her undying love for us. It would always show every time she would prepare a dish for us. My greatest regret was not being able to document every piece of her recipes. All I can do now is to come across the old memories and rely on what I can still remember by heart. This blog just serves a wonderful purpose. I dearly miss her every day and all the magnificent dishes she cooked for us.
One of grandma’s dishes that I would love to immortalize is her Kalderetang Baka (Beef Caldereta). It was one of her specialty dishes and she would always cook it on significant events and family gatherings. Caldereta or kaldereta is a popular spicy meat stew usually prepared by Filipinos on special occasions and festivities. The dish is traditionally cooked with goat’s meat and stewed along with tomatoes, potatoes, bell and hot peppers, carrots, green peas and mashed liver or liver paste. They say goat’s meat tastes similar to lamb but since goat is not widely commercialized in grocery stores and local meat markets, other variations such as beef, chicken and pork have emerged. “Caldereta” is a Spanish word which means “cauldron” referring to a large cooking pot used to stew the meat. It is believed that Filipinos have inherited the dish from the Spanish settlers when they colonized the Philippines for more than 300 years. There is a Spanish stew known with the same name but it is composed of seafood and lobsters instead of animal meat. Filipino caldereta is a special dish of the Tagalog Region in Luzon, Philippines. The meat replacement might be due to the availability of animal meat during that time since goats and cattle are commonly farmed in the said province.
Caldereta requires time and patience in cooking the meat. I remember grandma never used pressure cooker because she preferred to slowly cook the meat until fork tender. According to her, the meat tenderized the traditional way are tastier and more infused with flavors.
I tried my best to recreate grandma’s most treasured caldereta and I am glad that it turned out exceptional, very close to how it supposed to taste and to look like. With the outcome of my own version of caldereta, I am pretty sure that there is one grandma above who is now very proud of her grandson.
Beef Caldereta/ Kalderetang Baka (Spicy Beef Stew)
Number of Servings: 5
- 2 lbs. beef brisket, sliced into 1-inch chunks
- 8.8 oz. (250 g) tomato sauce
- 2.4 oz. (70 g) tomato paste
- ½ cup liver spread or liver paste (see tips)
- ½ cup soy sauce
- 3 pcs. calamansi limes
- 1 tsp. peppercorns, coarsely crushed
- 4-5 cups water
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 small red onions, sliced
- 3 pcs. potatoes, cut into chunks
- 2 pcs. small carrots, sliced into rounds
- 2 pcs. small red bell pepper, julienned
- ½ cup green peas in can, drained
- 3 bay leaves
- 3 pcs. (or more) bird’s eye chilies, minced
- salt to taste
- ½ cup grated cheese (optional)
- 2 tbsps. butter
- 1 tbsp. cooking oil
- In a large container, combined together the soy sauce, juice of calamansi and peppercorns. Add the beef chops and toss to coat with marinade sauce. Leave covered to marinate for about 30 minutes.
- Heat the cooking oil and butter in a large saucepan. Quickly stir-fry the carrots and potatoes. Transfer the carrots and potatoes on a plate and set aside.
- On the same pan, saute garlic and onions until very fragrant. Add the beef together with the marinade sauce, bird’s eye chilies and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer and continue to cook until the beef turns light brown.
- Pour water just enough to cover the beef and bring to a boil. Divide the tomato sauce and tomato paste into two. Add the first half of the sauce and paste in the pan and set aside the remaining half. Mix all the ingredients in the pan until well blended. Set the heat to simmer to slowly cook the beef for 1.5 to 2 hours. Add more water if necessary. If using a pressure cooker, it may take no less than 45 minutes.
- Once the beef is tender, add the remaining half of tomato sauce and paste. Add the liver spread or paste and continue to simmer for 3 to 5 minutes.
- Add the red bell pepper and the stir-fried carrots and potatoes. Simmer until the vegetables are tender and the sauce is real thick. Add and mix the grated cheese. Remove from heat and transfer in a serving platter. Serve warm along with plenty of steamed rice. Enjoy!
TIPS FROM ENZ:
- To make your own liver paste, you will need ½ lb. chicken liver. Trim the connective tissue off the edge of the liver and wash under running water. Season the chicken liver with salt and pepper and lightly fry just enough until the color turns pale. Place the barely cooked chicken livers in blender or food processor and puree until very smooth. Set aside until needed.
- As mentioned, you can use any type of animal meat in cooking caldereta. Just adjust the cooking time depending on the type of meat.