Carne con Papas – Minced Beef and Potato Stew
The first time I had this meal it was literally a life saver, well a bowel saver… It was about three weeks into the dig I did in Mexico this summer, we had no running water, almost no electricity, sanitation or meat due to the lack of refrigeration. However, we hid have heat, the constant buzzing of several million flies, rats, mice, lizards, bees snakes and a horrible stinking boiled Coyote (long story) and long working days. The purely vegetable based lunch would be made in the morning and the left to swelter in a hot van for a good 6 hours before the team hid in the shelter of a single tarpaulin and ate our mushy warm food, the tinned chipotle and tostadas were the only things saving everyone’s stomachs from complete meltdown!
I was working on my masters dissertation and would stay at the house some days to work, it would be even hotter and stickier in the timber house and the sound of the flies combined with trying to focus and stomach pains made staying to work a little like placing yourself in a little hell for a day… Anyway, there I was consigned and resigned to try and spend another day writing in sauna-conditions when my friend suggested the local ranchera (the one who gave me the tortilla recipe) could possibly provide my food that day, and she agreed. I was taken from hell into a huge cooled house, given cold coca-cola cans, chairs that were actually comfy and this! Real meat! With fresh Tortillas! At that moment it was genuinely the best meal I had ever eaten in my life. I felt elated eating something with texture and bite and having cold drinks in a cooled room, I could not have asked for more, so here’s the recipe, it sorted my stomach out too :D
– Recipe –
1 Onion // 1 Green Pepper // 2 sticks Celery // 4 cloves of Garlic // 400g Minced Beef // 1/4 teaspoon Ground Cumin // 1 teaspoon Oregano // 1 tin of Chopped Tomatoes // 1 tablespoon of Tomato Paste // Beef stock (Water and Stock Cubes) // 2 Baking Potatoes
- Chop the Onion, Green Pepper, Celery and Garlic finely. Put a tablespoon of Butter or Oil into a large sauce pan and bring to a medium heat. Cook the vegetables like this until the Onion is just translucent (5 minutes or so) and then add in the Cumin and Oregano and cook for 2 minutes until pungent, season with Salt and Pepper.
- Turn the heat up and add the Beef, breaking it up and browning it all over.
- When the meat is browned, add the Chopped Tomato, Tomato Paste and enough Beef Stock to cover the solids by 2 inches.
- Turn the heat right down, put a lid on and simmer for 1 hour stirring occasionally.
- Chop the Potatoes into small cubes and then add them into the dish, adding more Stock if needed, so everything is just covered.
- Simmer 40 minutes more until the potatoes are completely tender and almost falling apart.
- Serve with Rice or Tortillas.