Friday, September 4, 2009

Caldereta: Filipino Comfort Food

Last night I made a dish I grew up with but have always been too intimidated to try: a stew called caldereta, derived from the Spanish word caldero (cooking pot). My family devoured it over sticky white rice and went back for seconds. It goes nicely with a Spanish Rioja - Ergo Tempranillo 2006 is delicious. Traditionally we're supposed to use goat meat for this but I stuck with beef. It would probably work with lamb or chicken too. There are recipes here and here for it. This was mine (concocted after reading Kulinarya by Barretto et al. and the wonderful little volume Filipino Homestyle Dishes by Norma Olizon-Chikiamco):

Caldereta (or, if you want to spell it the Tagalog way, Kaldereta)

  • 1.5 lbs stew meat cut into chunks
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 5-6 cups of water
  • 4 small linguiça sausages (about hot-dog size) or chorizos, sliced
  • 12 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 4.25-oz can of liver paté (I was totally scared of this but it was fine)
  • 1 15-oz can of tomato sauce (about 2 cups)
  • 1/3 c vinegar
  • 1 c grated mild cheddar cheese
  • 2 Tb sugar
  • 2 Tb soy sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 4 sliced carrots
  • 1 5.5-oz jar of pitted green olives (about 2 cups / 80 small olives)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 of a red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and thinly sliced
  • 1 c green peas (frozen = okay)
  • optional: red pepper flakes to add a little heat

  • In a large casserole, brown the meat in oil over high heat with half of the onions.
  • Add the water and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer.
  • In a separate pot, cook the linguiça/chorizo pieces, then set aside.
  • In the same pot (the chorizo one), sauté the garlic for a minute or so, then add the liver pâte and stir together.
  • Add the tomato sauce, vinegar, salt, pepper, and sugar. Stir to combine.
  • Add the grated cheddar cheese and soy sauce and stir till smooth.
  • Pour into simmering beef and continue to simmer for 20-30 min.
  • Add potatoes, carrots, bay leaf, olives, and the rest of the onions and continue to simmer for about an hour. Add liquid if stew gets too thin.
  • Stir in the cooked linguiça slices, red pepper, and peas toward the end. Serve over rice.
Some people use peppercorns, cinnamon sticks, pineapple juice...the variations are endless. It's a tasty dish that reminds me of childhood and home. As we say in the Philippines, "Sarap!" ("Yum!")


ZMD said...

T you are making me and our whole nursing staff hungry. Bringing back lots of memories for our numerous Filipino nurses.

T. said...

Filipino nurses are DA BEST! :)

Kim said...

Sounds yummy! :)

Margaret Polaneczky, MD (aka TBTAM) said...

The lover pate addition is so unusual - I wonder what the original versions (ie, before pate was available in tins) used. Do you think chicken livers?

Thanks for posting this recipe -I may just have to try it!

T. said...

Peggy - one of the alternate recipes I linked to uses sautéed chicken livers. Some have no hepatic content at all. I was very, very nervous about it...but then it turned out scrumptious. In the end the contribution is more to texture than taste, and I was thinking hummus, a bit similar in texture (and even in tast) to the pâté I had, might be a possible substitute for the faint-of-heart, esp. because many caldereta recipes call for chickpeas.

I've been trying to cook more Filipino food lately. It's amazing how much that simple act can strengthen a sense of identity! I was telling my husband three things make me feel VERY Filipino: speaking the language (and understanding the humor); singing the songs; and cooking Filipino dishes. Food and language - both nourishing, both expressive, in some way!

Anonymous said...

I made this a couple of nights ago. It makes alot of food and would be great for a potluck. My husband was skeptical when he saw liver pate and olives in the ingredient list, but he liked it.
One question - what kind of vinegar do you recommend? I used white vinegar, but thought about using cider vinegar.

T. said...

I've only used white vinegar. I'm wondering if the cider vinegar might be too fruity for this combination of ingredients? There's a lot of vinegar in Philippine cuisine, and it's mostly of the white variety.

The recipe does make a lot - I should probably have mentioned the amount! Sorry about that. :)

Best Chocolates said...

Caldereta is definitely good! It's been awhile since I had this. Thanks for the recipe.