Beef caldereta is one of the many stews you see in fiestas, weddings, birthday parties, and countless handaans. Filipino caldereta initially used goat meat. Over time, variations like pork, chicken, and beef became equally popular. The classic recipe also calls for a handful of veggies, liver spread, and tomatoes (if you're old school). Otherwise, tomato sauce is the way to go.
But clichéd as it may sound, caldereta recipes, like many other local dishes, vary from household to household. These minor differences in ingredients and technique are often due to regional influences. Adding coconut cream is one such example. Though the origin of this surprise twist is unclear, one thing is sure – it helps many Pinoys get hooked on this saucy dish.
If adding gata to your stew is new to you, sit tight. Here's a quick lesson, plus a few valuable tips that will make your beef caldereta recipe stand out.
How to Make Beef Caldereta Creamy
Beef caldereta ingredients for the sauce are standard. A combination of tomato sauce, liver spread, and beef broth is all you need. While the liver spread helps thicken the sauce and gives it extra oomph, it falls short on the creamy scale.
Coconut milk has been a go-to option for those looking to add creaminess. Healthy and delicious, gata can upgrade your caldereta. Depending on how creamy you want your dish to be, recipes often call for a ratio of one to two cups of gata for every one kilo of beef cubes.
The trouble with using fresh coconut milk is its shelf life. If you aren’t careful, the coconut milk you purchased from the market may spoil even before you get the chance to use it. Your best option is to add a pack of Knorr Ginataang Gulay Mix to your sauce. This mix gives any beef caldereta recipe the rich taste of coconut milk in a convenient and readily available pack. It’s very easy to use even when you are just learning how to cook beef caldereta for the first time. But because this pantry staple is quick to thicken, remember to add it last.
Aside from perfecting the sauce, you must ensure the meat is nice and tender. Read on for a few simple tips.
Simple Tips for Tender Beef
Lots of cooks favor beef chuck to make this stew. Other parts that you can use are brisket, round, and shank. Be warned, however, because these parts are tough and require low and slow cooking to get them nice and tender.
The method allows the meat’s connective tissues to melt and meld with the stew. If you don’t have all day to stand in front of the stove, here are a few things you can do to get beef tender without drying out.
Tip 1: Cut smaller cubes
The size of the beef cubes can cause the cooking time to take forever. Cut the beef into small pieces, about 1½ inches, allowing faster cooking while remaining juicy.
Tip 2: Marinate the beef
You can use vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, and pepper to marinate the beef in the fridge for at least an hour. The vinegar's acid will help break down the meat and give added flavor. Calamansi juice is another alternative if you want to skip the suka.
Tip 3: Use a pressure cooker
The handy pressure cooker is the appliance you can count on to get meat tender in half the time. Depending on the size of the beef cubes, it should take 15-20 minutes in the pressure cooker. Please don't forget to read your cooker's safety manual if you are using it for the first time.
Tip 4: Try a crock pot
Crock pots or slow cookers are the most underrated appliances. They’re perfect for cooking food, especially stews, at a low temp for long hours (usually overnight). You can make so many recipes in the pot even while you sleep. Crock pots are safe to use and do not consume as much electricity as you think.
It's important to understand that different beef cuts cook at varying times. Like any stew, tender beef is achieved through slow cooking and with some patience.
What makes good beef caldereta anyway? Is it the meat used? Is it the added veggies or the way the sauce is done? The answer is all of the above! Caldereta is a dish that requires patience to get tender meat, and the flavors meld together perfectly. And although a regular beef caldereta recipe is tasty, you'd be pleasantly surprised by what gata can do to the dish. If you haven't yet, try it out and taste the difference!