Feliz Año Nuevo

To ring in the new year, we decided to celebrate with homemade Mexican food. But even after living in Mexico for four years, I never really learned to cook the food other than the basics. I just learned to eat it. With abandon. The spices, the textures, the layers of flavors. It wakes up the palate like nothing else.

And we thought it a great way to start 2011. Homemade salsa, guacamole, beans and carne guisada. That was David's request.

I make a good salsa and have recently learned to make a great salsa. Guacamole is one of my go-to appetizers, so that was easy. I make the world's best pinto beans, too.

But I have never made carne guisada¡Que pena! (What a shame!) Stewed meat with tomato, onions and bell pepper, this saucy dish is succulent, the meat should melt-in-your-mouth and it's flavored with a nice dash of cumin. It combines perfectly with rice, beans and tortillas, becomes an amazing taco and even makes a uniquely memorable side dish in the morning with huevos (eggs).

Truthfully, I forgot how laborious Mexican cooking is. I spent two hours making salsa, beans, guacamole and carne guisada. The house smelled like a cocina Mexicana (Mexican kitchen).

I dry roasted chiles, sauteed cebollas y ajo (onions and garlic), boiled tomatillos and serrano peppers, sauteed carne (meat), added some cumino (cumin), chopped and diced and more. I had something cooking on all four burners of the cook-top. And I was into it.

Everything turned out beautifully and though my salsa was muy picosa (very spicy), it was still manageable and added quite the zing we were looking for. When David tasted the carne guisada, he said, "You can open a Mexican restaurant now."

No creo (I don't think so), but it's nice to know I can make an authentic carne guisada. Andale, guey.

Feliz ano nuevo y buen provecho!

Mexican Breakfast of Champions
Fried huevo with beans, a side of carne guisada,
a homemade corn tortilla and a dollop of my salsa picosa.

Carne Guisada
The Cowgirl Gourmet slightly modified this recipe from The Tex-Mex Cookbook by Robb Walsh

Print recipe

This classic Mexican dish can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner. By slowly simmering the beef and the vegetables, the result is a hearty meat and gravy concoction that can be spooned in a tortilla, eaten with rice and beans or alongside eggs for breakfast.

Serves 6

2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
2 pounds sirloin tips, trimmed of all the fat and gristle and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup green bell pepper, chopped
1 cup onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 serrano chile, minced
1/2 cup chopped fresh tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 cup tomato sauce
2 cups water
1 Tablespoon flour

Heat the oil in a large skillet (cast iron, if you have it) over high heat. Add the meat and brown for 10 minutes. Do not crowd the pan or the meat with steam, so to cook all the meat may take two batches.


Do not drain the liquid or remove the meat, but add the bell peppers, onions, garlic, serrano chile and tomatoes and continue cooking for 10 minutes.


After cooking for 10 minutes, the natural juices
will start to make an amazing gravy.
Add the spices, tomato sauce and 2 cups of water. Reduce the heat to low and simmer covered for 30 minutes.


After 30 minutes, remove the lid, stir well and cooking another 30 minutes uncovered. Now the sauce will begin to evaporate and thicken. Add more water as required and season to taste. The meat should be very tender.

In a small cup or bowl, combine 3 Tablespoons cooking liquid and 1 Tablespoon flour. Stir well to remove any lumps and then add to the carne guisada, mixing well until evenly distributed.

Flour and sauce "paste"

Cook another 3-5 minutes to "cook" the flour taste out and serve.

Carne guisada generously spooned over a homemade flour tortilla
topped with cilantro, onions and a dollop of guacamole.
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