Growing up in West Texas Mexican food was a staple in our diets. Most of us had Mexican food almost as much as we did American cuisine and sometimes a blend of both. As I grew older I spent the summers working as a cowboy on ranches from the Red River to the Hill Country and all the way out to the Trans Pecos. Each area served a little bit different kind of Tex-mex food and all tasted a little different. Each dish was influenced by the people that lived there. One of my favorites was Carne Guisada. It was eaten with rice, peppers and tortillas on the side. Other places it was wrapped in tortillas and eaten as tacos or burritos. Many times I had it as the main ingredient in breakfast tacos. I like to serve homemade Carne Guisada with Spanish style rice, refried beans, flour tortillas and lots of peppers. I have even been known to stop at one of the Mexican fast food chains to get my fix of Carne Guisada.
This wonderful Mexican stew is made in many variations and one can use most any meat or peppers in its creation. I have eaten it made from beef, pork, venison and other game meats. No one way is right and I enjoy trying it all over this great State. Some versions have potatoes and other vegetables. One of my favorites is a New Mexico version full of green chilies and sweet onion. My most memorable meal of Carne Guisada took place on a horseback sheep hunt on the Big Bend Ranch State Park. My brother-by-choice and I had hired a couple of vaqueros as guides and they had taken us up in the rough high country in search of Aoudad sheep. At lunch we let the horses and our backsides take a rest while we sat and ate Carne Guisada tacos that had been packed in our saddle bags. We sat on a high mesa looking across the Rio Grande into the majestic mountains of Mexico and ate an authentic meal with people from a different world while taking in a view I will never forget.
The following recipe is a classic Carne Guisada from a bowhunting buddy of mine that hangs out on Texasbowhunter.com. Legdog, thanks for the recipe.
Carne guisada is one of my all-time favorite foods. As we traveled Mexico, we found it ready-to-eat in grocery stores and ordered it in restaurants. We even ordered some in an Ozona, TX truck-stop cafe and it was great! I was never disappointed. The following recipe comes from Diana Rattray, Your Guide to Southern Food.
1 pound stew beef
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons tomato paste
10 1/2 ounces condensed beef broth, undiluted
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 or 2 small jalapeno or Serrano Chile peppers, chopped
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons cornstarch, dissolved in a small amount of cold water
Directions: Brown meat in oil on all sides. Pour off excess grease. Add tomato paste [optional], beef broth, salt and pepper, garlic, chili powder, cumin, Chile peppers, and water. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 12 hours, or until meat is very tender. Turn to high and dissolve about 2 teaspoons of cornstarch in small amount of cold water and slowly pour into stew, which is simmering, until proper thickness of gravy is obtained. Serve with rice and warm tortillas, if desired. The longer you let it simmer the better it gets.
Good Eating, Wild Ed