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29 January, 2007

Beef Stew

In my family, Mom is the expert when it comes to Filipino dishes; she has this added touch that makes them taste the way I remember from my childhood.

Funny things is, she never did much of the cooking until we moved to the U.S.; like most middle class Filipino housewives, she had household help who did it for her.

Yet she had no problem taking to it when we got here; looks like she has more of my grandfather's genes than we thought. Lolo (grandpa) loved to cook, and since Lola (grandma) had always been in poor health, he also managed the household and raised five convent-bred kids.

He didn't have to do it all himself; like my mother he had a lot of help, including a cook who did most of the daily meals for the household and the kasama, tenant farmers who tilled the family's rice fields and were frequent visitors to Sulok (The Corner), which is what everyone called my grandparents' house.

But when my mother and her siblings -- notoriously picky eaters all -- refused to eat, Lolo either brought them to their favorite restaurant, Panciteria San Jacinto at T. Pinpin corner Escolta, or whipped up a dish like this savory beef stew called caldereta.

Like most cooks, my mom doesn't have a recipe written down for this dish, but it's basically beef brisket cut into chunks, sauteed in garlic, tomatoes and onions then slowly braised in beef stock and tomato sauce thickened with liver spread. Sliced Spanish chorizos (sausage), cubed potatoes and pimento-stuffed green olives are added towards the last ten minutes of cooking. The stew is served piping hot with a sprinkling of parsley. It's the perfect winter dish with steamed jasmine rice.

posted at 5:56 AM by City Muse


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