Seco de carne (cilantro beef stew) – Get ready for second servings


Guest post by Antonella Delfino.

I love how aromatic and tasty cilantro is; I really think it´s a wonderful herb. I don’t know if this is an acquired taste, as the bold ingredient is present in many Peruvian dishes (it even is the star in some of them), or I’m just lucky to have been born in Peru. The recipe that I am sharing today  has cilantro as the principal source of flavor, and it is one of my favorites.

Seco is one of the most popular recipes of Peruvian cuisine, and one of the main elements of traditional “comida criolla”, which is the name we give to typical food from the coastal region of the country. The roots of this dish in our gastronomy are very old, a product of the Arab influence that the Spanish brought with them during colonial times. Seco was originally prepared in the northern part of the country, but it is now eaten all along the coast. When you try it, you will understand why it has become so popular.

As would be expected, thanks to the cilantro this entrée’s flavor is intense and delicious. We usually have it with white fluffy rice and canary beans on the side, and a drizzle of olive oil on top. Although it is traditionally made with beef, chicken or goat, the recipe allows for some variations and could be made with other kinds of meat, fish, seafood, or even just vegetables. The secret here is to let the meat simmer over medium-low heat, so it can absorb the flavors and get a fork tender texture.

The result, for me, is irresistible.

 

 

5.0 from 4 reviews

Seco de carne (cilantro beef stew)
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 4
 

Ingredients
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 ½ pounds boneless beef chuck roast, cut in 2×2 inch pieces
  • 1 chopped red onion
  • 2 chopped garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon aji amarillo paste
  • 3 cups cilantro leaves
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 2 potatoes, cut in four parts
  • ¾ cup green peas
  • ¾ cup diced carrots
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan over high heat, and when it is very hot sear the beef pieces until they are golden brown.
  2. Put the cilantro and spinach in the blender and process with one cup water. Reserve.
  3. Add the onions, garlic and aji amarillo paste to the saucepan; stir and let them cook until the onions are soft and translucent.
  4. Pour the cilantro mix and turn the heat to medium heat. Stir constantly until the water evaporates.
  5. Add one tablespoon of oil, if necessary, to fry the herbs. The cilantro and spinach are going to get a dark green color.
  6. Pour 6 cups of water and simmer over medium-low heat for 2 hours with the lid on. Check constantly and add water if necessary.
  7. When the meat is fork tender add the potatoes, green peas and carrots; cook uncovered for 15 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
  8. The stew is ready when the veggies are cooked and the juice is reduced.
  9. Serve with rice and beans.

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Comments

  1. OMG this looks so yummy!! I am going to try and make this at home over the weekend!

  2. Made this today! Very tasty! :)

  3. Mabel Escalante-Herson says:

    I made this last week and served it to my Limeno dad and as he would eat it, he kept on saying mmmm! mmmm! mmmm! My Trujillana mother says now i can open up a restaurant. It was a hit!
    Thank you for a wonderful recipe

  4. I love the taste of seco de carne, but isn’t this a bit contradictory? You have already cooked the beef, I don’t understand how is it to be fork tender when it is already cooked. You fried it in the beginning.

    • Peru Delights says:

      Hi John! Seco is a stew, first you need to sear the beef and then you simmer it over very low heat with herbs and spices until very tender. If you follow the instructions carefully you will be delighted with the final result.

  5. Rob & Agatha says:

    Great recipe! We added a bit of cumin while browning the beef, and substituted jalepenos since we could not find aji amarillo. It was muy delicioso!

  6. My boyfriend grew up in Lima. He has tried to make seco here before, and while I thought it was *fine*, it wasn’t anything mind-blowing. When we were in Peru a couple of weeks ago visiting his family, his dad made a vinegary seco de carne (he thought a large quantity of vinegar could be substituted for wine) in which we found not one but TWO fingernails!

    So, needless to say, I didn’t have many expectations when making this recipe; I only decided to make it to give my boyfriend a taste of home. To my surprise, we were *both* blown away by the result! The veggies and meat are melt-in-your-mouth with a slightly tangy sauce. I did add an extra teaspoon of aji amarillo paste (we like it hot!) and a dash of cumin. I will be making this again for sure. As I’m writing this review, my boyfriend is going through your site telling me which recipes from home I need to make next. Pretty sure he’s going to end up buying your book, too. Do you offer a version of the book in Spanish? His dad sure could use some good recipes. ;)

    Thanks for helping me to appreciate Peruvian cuisine, and for making an expat Peruvian guy super-happy this evening. I’ll definitely be coming back to your site again and again!

    (PS – for some reason I am unable to rate the recipe [it won't let me go above 2 stars?] … so here I’m letting you know: 5 stars.)

    • Peru Delights says:

      Hi Lindsey, I´m so happy you liked this recipe. Seco should be a tasty stew, with meltingly tender meat, and full of flavor.
      The Everything Peruvian Cookbook is in English only :(
      Thanks for writing such a lovely comment. This is inspiring and I feel grateful for your kind words. Hope you try more Peruvian recipes, and really appreciate if you let me know how you like them…

  7. Hi! Anyway to modify this recipe to make in the crock pot? I am native Peruvian and my mom has always taught me to make it on the pressure cooker. Any advice for crock pot Seco? Gracias!!

    • Peru Delights says:

      Hi Natalia. When making this recipe in the crock pot, try to fill it two thirds full. For the first hour cook at HIGH and then turn to LOW. Remember that Seco is a stew and it´s perfect to cook it for several hours at a very low heat. The beef will be meltingly tender and very moist, while the sauce will have the time to reduce and will be very flavorful. I would add potatoes during the last hour, or cook them separately and add them as a side along with the rice. Let us know how you like it.
      Thanks for visiting!

  8. Thank you for posting this! My mother use to make me seco all the time growing up, but it seems like whenever I order it at restaurants in and around New York, they change it just slightly and it’s never as good. Just made this recipe and it’s spot on! I make mine with beef shank, since that’s how I grew up eating it, but will use cabrito next time.

    • Peru Delights says:

      Cabrito, Chiclayo style. I´m glad you liked our recipe. I love seco and its many variations. Seco de carne is my fave with frijoles batidos. Chicken and fish are close on my list. Thanks for visiting!

  9. I am trying this recipe tomorrow for a dinner with my peruvian sister, her chilean husband, I am chilean and my husband is peruvian, confused? lol. I am sure it will be delicious and unexpected for them. It will bring us beautiful memories of Peru. Thanks. Gracias Antonella!

  10. This a great recipe, one variation I use is to pour some beer before vegetables to enhance the flavor.

  11. gueroloco says:

    Thanks for sharing this! I have made this three times now! LOVE IT! A Peruvian friend told me to add a tsp. of ají panca to the cilantro mix, too. I couldn’t tell much of a difference in flavor.

  12. Nancy Cervantes says:

    I never knew this down had spinach in it. I’m a bit skeptical as to how much the flavor would change.

  13. Grace Cardona says:

    The recipe version that I make is very similar to yours, but it has been a while ago since I prepared it. Would you please advise me which cut of meat is best to prepare seco de carne besides cabrito? Thank you in advance

  14. Why Spinach ? I have been looking for the peruian seco recipe and only yours have spinach .

    • Peru Delights says:

      Cilantro can be too strong for many people, this is why we add a few leaves to our dishes, and also spinach gives a beautiful color to the sauce.

  15. I have changed the spinach for parsley and the taste is awesome blended in with the corriander just marvelous . El seco es difinitamente un riquisisimo plato de la auntentica comida del peru..chimpum….callao que viva….peruuuuuuu

  16. First of all! I want to say thank you so much to cheer your recipe.
    I am married to a Peruvian guy for 18 year now and I never found a people so self fish with cheering recipes like Peruvian people.
    I am making this tonight and hope that my husband will love it as much as he loves his mothers food.
    Thank you so much again.
    I’ll let you know how it works out for me

Trackbacks

  1. [...] to follow a blog on Pinterest, Peru Delights; the recipes look so good. Can’t wait to try the Seco de Carne recipe. The authors (Morena Cuadra and Morena Escardo) have written a cookbook, The Everything Peruvian [...]

  2. [...] 18, 2014 admin Leave a comment Seco de carne (cilantro beef stew) – Get ready for second servings | PERU DELIGHTS (perudelights.com) INGREDIENTS ½ cup vegetable oil 1 ½ pounds boneless beef chuck roast, cut in [...]

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