Monday, November 10, 2008

Caldereta or Kaldereta? Have it Both Ways!

When I was young and new to food nomenclatures, I naively associated caldereta exclusively with the canine variety. It was an unfortunate introduction to one of the stalwarts of Filipino cuisine, I must admit now. I swear that although people in some regions in the country routinely swore by this caldereta iteration, I never had a taste or a liking for it. A few determined friends had tried on occasion to serve me that culinary version of caldereta, but I have successfully avoided eating it because I knew my meats, and no matter how they deceptively presented their preferred version of caldereta, it never passed muster with me. To this day, I have eaten other versions of caldereta, including the highly touted calderetang kambing (goat), and have successfully evaded the canine version of it. But, caldereta or kaldereta, depending on where you live, is available in its most popular version, the beef caldereta. And this is the version that I have adopted as my most favorite version of all.

On Sunday, I returned home very hungry after covering a four-hour event in Los Angeles, and like clockwork I head to the fridge to see what I could cook for dinner. There was a rack of beef ribs that we bought from Ralphs on Saturday, and it had portions where the ribs were shorter. So I cut those into singular pieces ( about 1 and 1/2 lbs. total) and I have the makings of a caldereta for dinner. You could also use beef chuck. It will not hurt my feelings. The other must ingredients are:
(1) head of bell pepper cut into thin strips
(1) head of medium-size carrot cut into 1/2 inch pieces
(1) cup of frozen green peas
(1) cup of green olives; black olives are good too
(1/2) teaspoon of ground black pepper; more if you want to make it nuclear, or use siling labuyo
(1/2) teaspoon ground chili pepper
(1/4 ) teaspoon salt, or more to taste
(1) cup of grated cheddar cheese
(1) 6-ounce (170 gram) can of tomato paste; tomato sauce is OK too.
(2) medium-size potatoes cut into 1-inch cubes
(6) cups of water for stewing the beef ribs
(1) medium-size onion, sliced
(2) cloves of garlic, minced
(2) tablespoons of cooking oil
(1/3 cup) of Japanese vinegar, or Sukang Paombong, if you wish
(1) Spanish sausage (chorizo) thinly sliced


Brown the beef ribs (or chuck) in a wok or deep frying pan with really hot cooking oil. After searing the meat, transfer them into a stewing pot, including the oil and saute the garlic, followed by the onions. Add the (6) cups of water and bring to a boil, reducing the heat to low, until the meat is tender (about 30 to 45) minutes. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, mix the tomato paste, cheddar cheese, pepper, chili pepper, salt and vinegar. Add 1/2 cup of water and stir into a smooth, thick paste. Simmer over low heat for about five minutes, and set aside. Saute the sliced chorizo sausage in a teaspoon of cooking oil until brown (about two minutes) and set aside.

When the meat is tender, and the stock is reduced to about 1 and 1/2 cups, add the chorizo, the tomato paste mix; add the carrots, followed by the potatoes, bell pepper, olives and green peas. Let it simmer until the desired consistency is reached and the veggies are cooked to your liking. Add salt and pepper according to your preference. Enjoy! Cooking time is about 1 hour.

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