Caçoila | Portuguese Stewed Beef

Caçoila, or Portuguese stewed beef, is a comforting braise of beef, red peppers, and aromatics, cooked very slowly in a red wine, tomato, and butter sauce.

A cast iron skillet with cacoila--or chucks of Portuguese stewed beef, bay leaf, and a fork

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, like 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 manner.–David Leite

LC DIY Crushed Red Peppers Note

And now, a word from the author on creating your own crushed red peppers. “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.” There you have it.


  • Quick Glance
  • 20 M
  • 4 H
  • Serves 8
5/5 - 2 reviews
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  • One 4 1/2 pound rump roast, cut into 2- to 3-inch chunks
  • 1/2 cup crushed red peppers (see LC Note above), 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 store-bought or homemade tomato paste
  • Boiled white potatoes, for serving (optional)
  • Roasted red peppers, for serving (optional)


  • 1. The day before cooking, coat the meat with the crushed red pepper, place in a bowl, cover, and refrigerate 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.
  • 3. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook, covered, until the meat is very tender, 3 to 3 1/2 hours, turning the pieces occasionally to keep moist. (If you wish, you can remove the beef to a skillet and brown the chunks in a 400°F (200°C) oven while cook down the cooking liquid to concentrate the flavor. Or you can opt for this more stew-y version.)
  • 4. Serve the caçoila with boiled white potatoes and roasted red peppers.


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Recipe Testers Reviews

I made this caçoila recipe in the crock pot and with pork in place of beef. I did have to double the recipe as I was cooking for a crowd. I trimmed the pork of any visible fat and cut it into 2-inch cubes. I didn't have enough hot peppers to double the recipe, so I used half sweet red peppers and half hot peppers. I followed the recipe as written, except for keeping the red wine to only 2 cups. I made the pork and pepper mixture the day before and let it marinate for about 12 hours. It all cooked in an 8 1/2-quart crock pot for about 8 hours. I skimmed any fat from the top and served this with the Olive Oil Potatoes. It was a big hit! All that was left after the feeding frenzy were 2 bay leaves at the bottom of the pot. I found that the mixture of sweet and hot peppers made for a very flavorful pork that was not overpowering with heat but with just a slight bite. I would do this again in a smaller crock pot, but decrease the wine to only 1 cup.

I cannot believe this caçoila was the very first recipe from the Azores that I’ve made. But after trying this, I will venture into other ones. Do you enjoy your food spicy and filled with taste? Then this dish is perfect for you. My husband, our new Thai daughter (exchange student), and my teen all loved it. It was a tad too spicy for my toddler, who usually likes a little heat. The final taste with the tomato paste, wine, and garlic was just absolutely perfect and tasted wonderful. It’s easily enough for eight people and can perhaps even be stretched to serve 10. We served it with white rice, which was a perfect combination. Extremely easy to prepare, but you must enjoy spicy food. The next day, I decided to warm up the caçoila again, but I served it as an appetizer with toothpicks and bread, and our guests also enjoyed it quite a bit.


  1. Pico is in the central group of the Azores islands, while Sao Miguel is to the south east, neighbouring Santa Maria. Pico’s neighbours are Faial and Sao Jorge. Lovely recipe. Tastes like home. Thank you for posting it.

    1. Al, thanks for the more specific geography of the Azores. I was speaking generally, but I think this helps folks. My family is from São Miguel, which I’ve visited many times. I’ve yet to go to Pico. It’s on my list.

      1. Do visit the central group on your next trip to beautiful Sao Miguel. Each island has its own little cultural variations which are fascinating to observe in person. All the best to you.

        1. Al, I certainly hope to. There is such a charm and rugged beauty to the islands I’ve seen (São Miguel, Terceira, and São Jorge). I’m sure the rest are just as beautiful. Thanks.

    1. José, yes indeed, some recipes do. This version is from a friend who is a native and lifelong resident of San Miguel, and this is the way her family has made it for years.

  2. I make this once a month in the Crock-Pot. Thank you, David, for another easy to execute Portuguese favorite. I never learned to cook as a young person, but your recipes bring the food and flavors of my childhood back into my kitchen!!!

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