Caldereta is one of the meat dishes Filipinos like to serve at festivities like town fiestas and Christmas parties. It is a dish heavily influenced by Spanish cuisine with the use of tomato paste or sauce and olives.
There are many variations of this dish. Goat’s meat, lamb or beef may be used. Even chicken and prawns can be used in lieu of red meat. Liver mixed with herbs and spices, prepared from scratch may be added or simply use canned liver spread. Spanish chorizos/sausages or ham may be added as well for a richer version.
Here is a basic, simple recipe for Caldereta, adapted from Nora V. Daza’s A Culinary Life book. In her recipe, Ms. Daza used beef round. Others prefer to use neck parts with bones and brisket. Just remember that tougher parts of meat mean more cooking time to tenderize it.
First prepare marinade. Mix a quarter of white vinegar, crushed peppercorn, two cloves garlic (crushed) and a teaspoon of salt. Marinate 500 grams of beef cubes or whatever serving size you prefer, for about two hours.
Meanwhile prepare the following:
1 cup of sliced onions
1 cup red or green bell pepper, cut into strips (I prefer to use both red and green bell pepper for more color)
1/2 cup of tomato sauce
1 ½ to 2 cups of boiling water
¼ cup of liver spread
A piece of bay leaf
Hot sauce, according to taste
Brown or fry beef in hot cooking oil. Then add onions; sauté until caramelized. You may want to transfer the mixture to a deeper pan before adding in the boiling water and tomato sauce. Put in enough water to cover the meat. Add the bay leaf, the peppers and hot sauce if desired. Cover the pan and let simmer until meat is tender. Add water or stock as necessary. The important thing is, it must not dry up. Adjust seasonings according to your taste. When the meat is tender, add the liver spread and blend well, to thicken the sauce. Simmer for another 5 minutes. This dish is best when served hot with steamed, fluffy rice.
For variety, you may add vegetables like a cup of sweet peas and quartered potatoes. Pitted olives may also be added. Chopped chili peppers may be substituted for the hot sauce.
As for the liver spread, you may want to try the following liver mixture: Process in a blender or food processor or pass through a food grinder the following: 250 grams of cooked ox liver, two tablespoons of fine bread crumbs, two tablespoons of vinegar, a cup of stock, and salt, ground pepper, sugar to taste. Blend this mixture into the caldereta mixture and proceed as above.