It’s like stew, but with tortillas.

Get on down to that recipe!

Oh, carne guisada, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. This is a traditional Mexican beef stew, that’s actually not unlike the Indonesian Rendang in preparation (though the flavors vary greatly). You stew it down so that the meat kind of starts to fall apart and the liquid evaporates to minimal proportions, so it’s like the gravy is completely laden with shreds of meat and each larger piece is coated in smaller shreds of meat. Where does the meat end and the gravy begin? We may never know.

elk recipes: carne guisada

I think the main thing that makes carne guisada carne guisada is the bell peppers, which aren’t usually found in more typical American stews. That and the incorporation of tortillas. Carne Guisada can be eaten over rice (Spanish, white, brown, whatever you want), covered in cheese, eaten in a tortilla like a taco, or specifically made into tacos. Quite versatile really when you think about it. Squeeze of lime, a little avocado or guac, a warm tortilla and you’ve got yourself a burrito/taco/wrap. Call it what you want, it’s all delicious.

The one thing you can’t skimp on in this recipe is the time. Getting the meat and gravy to that specifically awesome place is not something you can rush. You can even crock pot it if you want or need to. It took mine about 3 hours.


This is also a great thing to make if you’re serving a crowd because you can double the recipe with very little added time. Set out some chips and guac, a little pico, and thing of tortillas and you’re all set for appetizers and dinner (just save some pico and guac for the main meal!). Doubling the recipe brings me to my next point, which is my second favorite part about carne guisada: leftovers! It’s almost better the second day after all those delicious flavors have had time to court, do a little dance, get down tonight, and marry. Get creative with the leftovers. We like it with an over medium egg on top!

Carne Guisada


  • 2 tablespoons oil, lard, or bacon fat
  • 2-3lb venison stew meat
  • 1 Large onion (roughly chopped)
  • 1 bell pepper (roughly chopped)
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes
  • 4 cloves garlic (minced)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)
  • 1/2 cup water (just enough to cover the meat)


  • 1 jalapeno (sliced, or to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch (mixed with a little water as a thickener, if needed)
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (for garnish)
  • chopped cilantro (for garnish)


Step 1
Heat the fat or oil on medium in a large dutch oven or stew pot. Add the meat and lightly brown. Then add the onions and cook until they start to wilt a little, about 5 minutes. Add the bell pepper, tomatoes, spices, garlic and jalapeno and give everything a really good stir and cook until it all becomes fragrant, about 2-4 minutes. Add just enough water to cover everything, bring to a boil, and then simmer (covered) until the meat is really tender and starting to pull apart, about 3-ish hours. You can also move everything to a crockpot and put it on the lowest setting for up to 6 hours.
Step 2
Once the meat is tender, take the lid off to let some of the water start to boil off. Let it continue to simmer for about another 20 minutes. At this point if the guisada is still watery, bring the temperature up a little higher, mix the cornstarch with the water and slowly add it, a little at a time, to the pot. Let it cook another 5 minutes or so until the gravy starts to thicken. Serve with tortillas and garnish with shredded cheese, cilantro, avocado, fresh pico, or whatever strikes your fancy.
Non game substitution: Cubed beef is typically the carne of choice with this dish.

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