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.
I hesitate to share this Portuguese Stewed Beef recipe because there are countless versions of caçoila [traditionally ka-soy-la although some folks say ka-sir-la]. They vary in the type of meat (some versions call for pork butt rather than an inxpensive cut of beef that needs to be slowly braised) and means of serving it, whether in a bowl or on a sandwich. So I’m fearful someone will take umbrage. But I couldn’t not share it.
The dish is named for a caçoila, 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)] until the meat is tender. This is a stovetop version that my recipe testers quite literally devoured. This particular beef recipe comes from a friend on the island of São Miguel, a far neighbor of Pico in the Azorean archipelago. Originally published May 10, 2001.–David Leite
How To Make Your Own Crushed Red Peppers
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.
Caçoila | Portuguese Stewed Beef
- Quick Glance
- 20 M
- 4 H
- Serves 8
- 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 very gentle simmer, cover, and cook until the meat is very tender, 3 to 3 1/2 hours, turning the pieces occasionally. (If you wish, you can remove the beef to a skillet and brown the chunks in a 400°F (200°C) oven while you 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.
Portuguese Stewed Pork
- You can use the same amount of pork butt cooked in the same manner.