Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Carbonada Criolla

Carbonada Criolla

Translated literally, Carbonada Criolla is Creole Carbonada... not much help, eh?  Well, let’s see what we can figure out here, and if I’m way off base, I welcome your assistance. Since this dish hails from Argentina, this usage of “Creole” probably refers to people born in the colonies with predominately unmixed Spanish descent.  Carbonada is most likely in reference to cooking over a wood fire to char the meat, signaling to us that there’s a substantial flavor treat ahead. So the first generation Spanish Colonial residents of Argentina made a popular dish that centered around nicely browned meat. I think we should thank them!

This is a spicier take on the Argentine winter stew, a hearty layering of savory, sweet and spicy goodness. The traditional dish is often served family style by baking the finished stew into a pumpkin but then everyone only gets the pumpkin they can scrape  out when taking their serving. We’re using Acorn Squash so everyone gets their own squash bowl and lots of buttery sweet yummy winter gourd. We also begin by marinating the beef overnight in our spin off of another Argentine specialty – Chimichurri, kind of a South American Pesto.

Carbonada Criolla
Serves: 8     Total Time: 3 Hours + Marinating Time


• 1 Bunch Parsley, with stems removed
• 4 Cloves Garlic, smashed• 2 Teaspoons + ½ Teaspoon Dried Oregano
• ½ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
• 2 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
• 1 Teaspoon Hot Smoked Paprika
• 2 Pounds Beef Chuck, cut into 1” cubes
• Kosher Salt
• All Purpose Flour
• 4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
• 1 Large Red Onion, chopped
• 1 Red Bell Pepper, chopped
• 1 Jalapeno, minced
• 4 Cups Beef Stock
• 5 Cloves Garlic Confit, mashed*
• 4 Roma Tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
• 1 Cup Dried Apricots, chopped
• 1 Sprig of Rosemary
• 1 Bay Leaf
• 4 Large Acorn Squash
• ½ Cup Unsalted Butter, melted
• 1 Cup Light Brown Sugar
• Fresh Ground Black Pepper
• 1 ½ pounds of Sweet Potatoes, peeled and cut into ½” cubes
• 1 ½ pounds of Russet Potatoes, peeled and cut into ½” cubes
• ¼ Cup Sour Cream
• 4 Ears of Sweet Corn, stripped of kernels

Preparation Steps

Step 1. Prepare and marinade the Beef Chuck the night before.

Step 2. Put the Parsley, Garlic and 2 teaspoons of the Oregano into a food processor and pulse 3 or 4 times to chop. Then add the Extra Virgin Olive Oil by drizzling it through the feeder tube while continuing to pulse the Parsley mixture. Remove the “pesto” to a bowl and stir in the Vinegar and Paprika.

Step 3. Put the Beef Chuck and the marinade into a large zipper storage bag and refrigerate overnight.

Step 4. Strain the Beef Chuck from the marinade and pat dry. Season the meat liberally with Kosher Salt and dust with the flour shaking off the excess.

Step 5. Heat a Dutch Oven over medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons of the Olive Oil.

Step 6. Add the Beef and brown until a nice crust forms on the bottom of the pot – cook the Beef in batches if necessary to avoid overcrowding.

Step 7. Remove the meat from the pot and set aside and add remaining 2 tablespoons of Olive Oil to the pot.

Step 8. Add the Onion and Peppers and sauté the vegetables just until they begin to brown.

Step 9. Add the Beef Stock and stir to deglaze the bottom of the pot.

Step 10. Add 4 cloves of the mashed Garlic Confit, Tomatoes, Dried Apricots, the remaining ½ teaspoon of Oregano, Rosemary Sprig, Bay Leaf, the browned Beef and any juices that have accumulated from the meat.  Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to simmer for 2 hours.

Step 11. After the stew has simmered for 1 hour preheat oven to 375º.

Step 12. Wash the Squash, cut in half from the stem to point, scrape out the seeds and trim just enough from the uncut side so the half Squash will sit level, like a bowl. 

Step 13. Brush the inside and cut edge of the Squash with the Butter and sprinkle the inside only with enough Brown Sugar to coat the flesh. Use the point of a sharp knife to pierce all over the flesh of the Squash, being careful not to go through the rind.

Step 14. Place the Squash, cut side up on a baking sheet and tightly cover the whole thing with aluminum foil. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until the flesh is tender, but still firm. When done, remove from the oven and carefully remove the foil cover away from you to avoid getting scalded by the escaping steam. Loosely cover the Squash with the foil to keep warm until ready to fill.

Step 15. 30 minutes before the end of the stew’s cooking time, add the Potatoes, and continue to simmer covered for 25 minutes. Next remove the Rosemary and Bay Leaf, add the Corn kernels and cook for an additional 5 minutes covered, then remove from heat.

Step 16. Mix the remaining clove of mashed Garlic Confit with the Sour Cream and set aside to meld.

Step 17. Sprinkle the cut edges of the Squash with Kosher Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper.

Step 18. Divide the stew between each Squash “bowl”, tightly replace the foil wrap and return to the oven for 20 minutes. Keep any stew that doesn’t “fit” into the Squash bowls on a low simmer. When it’s time to serve, plate the Squash and heap more stew on top, allowing it to flow over the edge of the “bowl”.

Step 19. Serve with a Teaspoon of the Garlic Sour Cream dolloped on top and garnish with a small sprig of Rosemary stuck into the Sour Cream.

Carbonada Criolla2

Tips and Trending

~ *If you have not already made your own Garlic Confit, you can substitute a commercially prepared Roasted Garlic in Olive Oil.

~ When you buy squash, look for those without any cuts in the surface. The rind, or skin, should be firm and not pliable and the squash should appear to be heavier than you think for its size. Color variations, especially on dark squash like Acorn, do not indicate any problems.

~ If you’re not a big fan of heat from hot peppers – you can slide toward a more comfortable end of the Scoville Scale by removing the seeds from the Jalapeno before mincing.  As always, wash your hands and any utensils and cutting boards immediately after preparing any hot pepper.

~ If you have a Bundt, or other ring form cake pan, use that when stripping the kernels from an ear of corn. With the cake pan upright  (the way you would bake in it) hold the stalk end of the ear, put the other end in the hole in the tube in the center of the cake pan and strip away. The ear is held securely at both ends and all of the kernels will fall into the cake pan instead of going all over your counter.

~ Serve with a salad of mixed greens and apple chunks tossed with a simple Salt & Pepper, Oil & Vinegar dressing.

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