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Caçoila | Portuguese Stewed Beef from Pico

I hesitate to post this recipe because there are countless versions of caçoila [ka-soy-la, although some folks say ka-sir-la] using different types of meat, such as pork butt, and different ways of serving it (in a bowl or on a sandwich) that I’m sure someone will take umbrage. But this particular beef recipe comes from a friend from the island of São Miguel, a far neighbor of Pico in the Azorean archipelago.

A caçoila is a large clay pot in which this dish is often made. Traditionally, the pot is soaked overnight. The next morning the ingredients are added, then the pot is covered and placed in a very slow oven — 250°F (120°C) — for 7 to 8 hours, or until the meat is tender. This is a stovetop version that my recipe testers quite literally devoured.

For pork lovers, you can use the same amount of pork butt cooked in the same same manner.–David Leite

Cacoila Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 20 M
  • 4 H
  • Serves 8

Ingredients

  • One 4 1/2 pound rump roast, cut into 2- to 3-inch chunks
  • 1/2 cup crushed red peppers (see Note), or 1/2 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes
  • 1 large onion, cut into slices
  • 1 bunch parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter or lard
  • 2 cups hearty red table wine
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste

Directions

  • 1. The day before cooking, coat the meat with the crushed red pepper and place in a covered bowl in the refrigerator overnight.
  • 2. Scatter the onion slices, parsley, garlic, and bay leaf in the bottom of a Dutch oven. Place the meat on top and dot with the butter or lard. Mix together the wine and tomato paste and pour over the meat. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook covered until the meat is very tender, about 3 to 3 1/2 hours, turning the pieces occasionally to keep moist.
  • 3. Serve the caçoila with boiled white potatoes and roasted red peppers.

Note

  • Crushed red peppers are exactly that: red peppers that have been ground. Once processed, some Portuguese families, like mine, brine them, others prefer to add olive oil and salt to preserve them. If you can’t find bottled crushed red peppers, you can make your own: Remove the stems, but not the seeds, from 2 or 3 large medium-hot red peppers. Place them in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of salt. Whir until blended.
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