We Eat Like This Every Day

Sometimes writing about the most obvious recipe just slips my mind. Sure, there are loads of sexier recipes out there, using superfoods like quinoa, chia or matcha powder (which is hot right now), and I forget the one recipe that we make at the ranch at least twice a week. Carne Guisada is our go-to meal, and I forget other people don’t include it their weekly supper rotation. Really, it’s just beef stew.

But city visitors to the ranch, or hunters (who are the same city folks, but decked out head to toe in khaki pants, khaki shirts and hunting caps in a color I call “Don’t Shoot Me” orange) absolutely rave about our carne guisada. “Do you eat like this every day?” one hunter asked my husband, who occasionally caters at hunting camps. This amused my husband immensely. Yes, we do eat like this, every day. It’s an hour’s drive to Chili’s from the ranch. It’s quicker for us to cook 3 meals a day than go out to eat.

The Secret to Good Carne Guisada is the Stewing Time

(WARNING: Science-y stuff. Avert your eyes, and skip to the next paragraph if you are just here for  ) Animal proteins are made of long muscle fibers that are surrounded and separated by fats and collagen. Cooking meat not only renders out (melts) some of this fat, but softens the collagen, giving your carne guisada a silky texture. The longer the stewing time, the more tender and silkier the collagen (and therefore, carne guisada) becomes. An hour of stewing time works for even the toughest beef. But chicken, pork, venison and fish have different physiological distributions of fat and collagen, so stewing time for those meats will be shorter or longer.

If you can’t find pre-cut beef cubes at the supermarket, purchase a larger piece of beef, such as chuck roast, round or blade steak, and cut into 2”cubes. Go for the bone-in cut, and add about 4-6 oz (113gr-170gr) to allow for the bone weight (so instead of buying 2lbs (907 gr) of beef, you will buy around 2.25 lbs (1kg)). Brown the bone along with the beef cubes, and leave in the stewing pot while your carne guisada is cooking. The bone will add an incredible level of richness that you just can’t get from boneless meats.

I will be posting more carne guisada recipes, using different combinations of ingredients and protein. But this recipe is the most basic, traditional and an absolute classic. Add a few tortillas, a pot of frijoles, and it’s would be just like having a meal at the ranch. Every day.

Browning onions for Carne Guisada

Brown the onions first.

Browning beef cubes for Carne Guisada

Add the beef cubes to brown with the onions.

Fresh Tomato Puree for Carne Guisada

Fresh tomato puree makes all the difference

Adding fresh tomato puree to carne guisada

Add the fresh tomato puree to the pan

Adding Chiles to Carne Guisada

Add the chiles and cover the pan


Genuine Ranch Style Beef Carne Guisada

Genuine Ranch Style Beef Carne Guisada

A hearty classic dish…this is what ranch folks really eat!

  • Author: Melissa Guerra
  • Prep Time: 7 mins
  • Cook Time: 60 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour 7 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings
  • Category: Main Dishes
  • Cuisine: Latin American


1 tbsp. vegetable oil (15ml)

1 1/2 cup chopped onion (225gr)

2 lbs beef cubes (907gr)

2 large tomatoes

2 cloves garlic

2 cups water (480ml)

2 whole chile serrano 

Salt and pepper to taste


Add the vegetable oil to a lidded 3 qt (3lt) straight sided sauté pan or Dutch oven and heat over medium heat for about a minute. Add the chopped onion, and sauté for about 2 minutes, until translucent. Add the beef cubes, cover, and allow to deeply brown, about 5 minutes over medium heat.

Meanwhile, prepare a fresh tomato puree by combining the tomatoes, garlic and water in a blender. Puree until smooth and set aside.

Once the beef cubes are well browned, pour the fresh puree into the pan. Add the whole chiles, and season with salt and pepper. Cover the pan, and allow to stew for 50-60 minutes, until the beef is tender and cuts easily with a fork.


Don’t worry if your fresh tomato puree seems a little foamy. The bubbles will melt away completely as your carne guisada cooks.

1 comment

  • Martha NoellReply

    April 28, 2017 at 6:09 pm

    So glad you are opting your recipes! I forget to go to your cookbooks for these down home South Texas recipes. I will try many of them!

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