Monday, January 27, 2014

Olla de Carne, or Too Many Root Stew

Zarcero, Costa Rica is pretty cold for the tropics. The high today is 68F and the low tonight is 55F with 14 mph sustained winds. Up in the hills, they make a stew called olla de carne or (Pot of Meat). As missionaries, someone called it "Too Many Root Stew" for the high number of different tubers it contains. Since we're getting aclimated now, and the kids are using thick wool blankets in the night, I decided to make it. 

I started with a kilo (2.2 lbs) of beef chuck cut into 1 1/2" chunks. In a frying pan, I put 2 tbsp oil and added the meat coated previously seasoned with salt and black pepper. I seared them on both sides and then placed them in a crock pot, on high, with about 4 quarts of water in it, 3 tbsp granulated garlic, two onions (one rough cut & one diced into oblivion), 2 tbsp Costa Rican salt (it's like crushed sea salt), a bay leaf, 2 tbsp achiote (annatto paste), one small can of tomato paste, the juice from half of one Rangpur (limón mandarino), 4 whole stalks of coyote cilantro, and one large Yuca (cassava root) cut into large chunks. We let this cook on high for four hours.

Later, we peeled and added an ear of corn, 4 camotes, 1/4 of an ayote, 2 ñampies, 2 tiquisques, 1 chayote, 1 large carrot, 2 potatoes, and 1 green plantain, all of which were cut into 2" chunks. I also added some more salt and another 1/2 cup of water. 

We let it cook another 4 hours, then served it by pouring it over rice. It was delicious, though no one cared for tiquisques. I'll take some photos next time we make it. You could make something very similar in the States if you live close to a decent Hispanic market.

I didn't care for this so much in my youth, but at 40, it's a tasty meal (or two).

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