In the early years of Texas statehood, Tejanos (Texans of Hispanic descent) made a beef stew similar to this carne guisada (literally means "meat in gravy"). The only difference was that the word "carne" (meat) was not included in the name or very often, nor was it found in the pot either.

Carne guisada has some similarities to chili. The biggest difference is that the meat is the star in the guisada, while the chile peppers, and their combinations, are emphasized in chili.

This simple beef stew, as well as other similar versions of carne guisada, are found in many Texas and Tex-Mex restaurants today. Although most carne guisada recipes call for the pot to be cooked on the stove top, this beef stew is slow-cooked, or baked, in the oven. This results in the meat being more tender. The results of either method should be a very thick stew, without much liquid.

Carne guidada can be served in a bowl by itself, or used as a filling for soft tacos, inside either corn or flour tortillas. It is considered one of the "comfort foods" of Texas and Tex-Mex cooking, and remains a favorite of these cuisines today.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds beef chuck roast, cut in bite-size pieces

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 vegetable tablespoon oil

1 medium onion, chopped

3 celery stalks, chopped

2 fresh jalapenos, minced

1 1/2 cups unsalted beef stock

1 tablespoon tomato paste

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon good chile powder

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly dust the meat pieces with the flour. Heat the oil over high heat, in a Dutch oven or large skillet. Brown the flour-dusted meat quickly. Add all remaining ingredients, and simmer on the stove for about five minutes.

Cover the Dutch oven or skillet, and place it in the oven. Bake for about 2 hours. By this time the meat should fall apart at the touch. Serve immediately.

Billy is the writer and editor for Food in Texas, a website devoted to the celebration of traditional homemade Texas Food. With simple recipes and cooking ideas that bring out the best in classic Texas cuisine, Food in Texas is creating its own culinary legacy.

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