Cazuela de Vaca (Beef and Pumpkin Stew)
Chile has a distinctive cuisine, one in which the influences of Europe and indigenous traditions are both prominent. Chile is known for its fantastic seafood, grilled meats, stews and pasteles, empanadas, corn, beans, potatoes, exotic tropical fruit (lucuma and chirimoya), pisco, and excellent wines.
One of my favorite Chilean dishes is a hearty beef stew called Cazuela de Vaca (Beef and Pumpkin Stew); beef, corn and pumpkin in one dish. It reminds me of the wonderful fish and meat broths (one pot meals) that I had in Dominica. Hearty and fresh good to the last drop, any time of the year. Cazuela de Vaca's main ingredients are stewed in serving-sized pieces, so that each person receives a large piece surrounded by a broth with the other vegetables.
Ingredients (Original recipe makes 6 servings)
1 1/2 pounds beef roast
1 (32 ounce) carton beef broth
2 cups water
1/4 cup polenta (coarse or fine)
8 red potatoes, cut in half
1 onion, quartered
1 1/2 pounds slice of pumpkin (calabaza)
2 ears corn, cut into thirds
1 carrot, cut into 1/2 inch slices
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 stalk celery, cut into chunks
1 leek, split in half, then cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 teaspoon minced fresh oregano
1/4 teaspoon mild paprika
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves (lightly packed)
Cut the piece of beef into 6 large chunks (one per serving). Place the beef into a large saucepan; pour in the beef broth and water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium, cover, and simmer until nearly tender, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Stir the polenta into the stew along with the potatoes and onion. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Cut the pumpkin into 6, serving-sized pieces, and add to the stew along with the corn, carrot, bell pepper, celery, and leek; simmer until the vegetables are tender, adding more water if needed to barely cover. Stir in the oregano and paprika during the last 5 minutes.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle into serving bowls, and sprinkle with chopped cilantro.
NOTE: Add 2 green bananas (cut in half and split) or other vegtables at your option.