Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Elena's Carbonada criolla (pumpkin beef stew)

(Para leer en español, sigue este enlace)

In my last blog entry I presented a ritual that my Argentinean friends Elena, Mónica and I started a while ago: all three families spending a day together, cooking and eating Argentinean food. Today, Elena is sharing with us her recipe for one of the dishes that she prepared for our first Argies in Dutchland party: the carbonada criolla, or pumpkin beef stew.

Elena pouring mates (the Argentinean national drink) for her guests.
 While I was doing some research about this traditional Argentinean dish, I was surprised to know that its origin is in fact, Belgian. I had always thought that carbonada criolla was one of the dishes that could be traced back to the colonial times of our history, a dish Spanish in origin that had been adopted by the criollos (the people of Spanish descent who were born in the colony) and changed to include some of the local ingredients available.

Instead, it seems that the carbonada criolla hails originally from Belgium where it is known as carbonade or more specifically, carbonade flamande which is, "a sweet-sour beef and onion stew made with beer and seasoned with thyme and bay." (source, Wikipedia) Interesting how this dish started its journey not too far from where we, the argies in the team, are living right now!

 Besides this unexpected discovery, I found that the name carbonada refers to the cooking method: the stew was or is cooked traditionally on a pot over the flame very slowly until all the logs in the open stove are reduced to ashes, which in Spanish is carbonizados. Then the criolla part of the name, refers to the indigenous ingredients that were added by the locals -the criollos- like the corn on the cob, the pumpkin and the fruit. The pumpkin shell is sometimes used to serve the dish.

Carbonada criolla served in the pumpkin shell. Photo courtesy of Recetario Cocina
Here is the recipe of this hearty traditional Argentinean dish. If you are now located in the northern hemisphere you might want to wait until the autumn or winter to try it since it is a rather hearty dish; but trust me, you will love it! 

Carbonada Criolla for the Argies in Dutchland, by Elena:

Heat some oil in a pan and brown two cloves of garlic and a finely chopped onion for a few minutes until soft. Add a pound (1/2 kg.) of steweing beef cut in small cubes and seal it in the garlic and onion before adding two peeled tomatoes chopped, 100g. of butter and a bunch of fresh herbs, one potato, a chunk of pumpkin, and another of sweet potato, all cubed; then some pieces of corn still on the cob, three ladelfulls of stock. Season with salt and pepper.
Put the lid on the pan and let it boil  until everything is tender. Add then 250g of rice, one peeled apple cubed, three peeled peaches also cubed (it can also be whole small peaches, always peeled). Cook on a low flame until the rice is cooked, which should be about 20 minutes.
Add more stock if necessary, but bear in mind that the carbonada should have the consistency of a broth.
This dish tastes better when its made on the same day, since it will get too mushy if you prepare it the day before.

Elena's delicious carbonada, served on the beautiful dishes she brought over from Argentina.

The recipe was taken from El Libro de Doña Petrona, a book containing the recipes of the "guru" of Argentinean cooking: Petrona C. de Gandulfo.


Anonymous said...

Yum! I love the Belgian version, so I'm definitely curious to try this variation. I love the idea of adding in the pumpkin and corn. Definitely bookmarking this one! Thank you both for sharing!

Aledys Ver said...

Have you had carbonade flamande? I had no idea it existed! :D The fruit makes this dish sweet and lekker! Worth trying!!

Katie said...

Thank you so much for sharing the history of this dish, Aledys. I had no idea it was actually Flemish in origin! This version is quite different from the ones that I've tried. I'll definitely give this recipe a go.

Aledys Ver said...

Thanks! I have a couple of recipes for carbonada from different books and they are all different. This one is by Doña Petrona, which is a legend in Argentina's tv. Her book is considered still as the Bible of cooking ;)

Gaby V. said...

Very nice presentation of the recipe! It looks yummie! Definitely a must try!

Have you Ever?? said...

Wow, that looks great!!! will try to make a Indo-Brazilian adaptation here at home one of these days :)

Aledys Ver said...

@Have you Ever??
If you do, pass on the recipe and tell us how it was!! :D

BLOGitse said...

It's still cold in the evenings here - in the country of Santa Claus! :) This morning only +1 but it's getting warmer. Next week should be sunny, hip hip hooray! :)

VagaMundos said...

It looks delicious. We have to try that Argentinian dish with belgium roots :)

Aledys Ver said...

Wow that's cold! But it's been "cold" here, too. During the day around 14/15 degrees and in the morning a little frost, too. It should get better in the next couple of days, though. Fingers crossed!

Aledys Ver said...

Yes, do! It's delicious! :D

Khadima said...

Hi, I am Khadima from Tunis and read your blog. This recipe looks delicious I want to make it - can't find here sweet potato, can I use normal potato?
Many thanks.

Ariya said...

This looks delicious! Nice that you can use the pumpking as a dish to serve!