A traditional Costa Rican dish that you may not see at every local restaurant is olla de carne (olla de carne in English means beef stew). In Costa Rican homes, this soup is made on the weekends and in Costa Rican restaurants, they normally offer this soup one day a week (usually Saturday or Sunday).
This is one of Yeison’s favorite Costa Rican dishes so if you’d like to re-create this hearty beef stew, here is our Costa Rican olla de carne recipe brought to you by our neighbor.
Olla de Carne History
The history of olla de carne is that first, Costa Rica raises quite a bit of cattle so locals in rural areas are farmers and they have good beef. Second, it is normal for the farmers to ride their horses to the bar after a long day of work and have some beers with their friends. And third, Costa Ricans drink a lot of beer.
So to help with the hangover the next morning, they eat olla de carne. This is why it’s normally made and served on the weekends. It’s chock full of vegetables and hearty meat so even if it’s 90 degrees outside, locals slurp down this soup to stave off the pounding hangover they got from a fun night out drinking beers with the boys.
Olla de Carne Recipe
For this recipe, we use our crock pot because it brings out more flavor and makes the beef and vegetables nice and tender.
Olla de Carne Ingredients
This is enough to make 8 servings in a 6 quart crock pot.
- 1 large carrot
- 2 ears of sweet corn
- 1 small yam
- 1 medium size onion
- 2 small yukon gold potatoes
- 1 bunch of culantro (this is not cilantro, it is also known as Mexican coriandor). If you can’t find culantro (try your local Mexican or hispanic store), then you can substitute it with cilantro but it will give a slightly different flavor.
- 1/2 chayote squash (this is a type of gourd, also known as pear squash)
- 1/2 cassava root (yuca)
- 1/2 sweet pepper
- 1 small taro (they use tiquisque in Costa Rica)
- 1 small plantain
- 1/4 (half pound) kg beef short ribs
- 1/4 kg lean beef cut into large chunks
- Oregano, Garlic Salt, Onion Salt or complete seasoning
- Cooked rice
- Chop into small pieces the onion, 4 stalks of culantro and sweet pepper. If you are using cilantro, cut only the stalks.
- Peel and cut carrot into pieces about 1/2 inch in width.
- Peel chayote, cut into quarters.
- Peel the 1/2 yuca, cut into quarters length wise.
- Peel taro, cut into quarters.
- Cut yam into quarters.
- Cut potatoes in bite size pieces.
- Cut the 1/2 plantain into 1 inch pieces, set aside.
- Cut corn into 3 inch pieces.
- Put beef first in the crock pot and then all vegetables. For the vegetables, you’ll need to put the hardest ones on the bottom like the carrot, platano verde, and yuca. Then put the potato, yam, pepper, onion, taro (tisquisque) and chayote on top.
- Put the pieces of culantro on top.
- Add enough water to cover all ingredients. Put in 1 tsp of salt, a few shakes of complete seasoning and 1/2 tsp oregano or 1/2 tsp garlic salt, 1/4 tsp onion salt and 1 tsp oregano.
Put the slow cooker on high and let it cook for about 2 to 2.5 hours. Check it every hour or so to skim the fat off the top and add a bit more water if necessary.
At 2 to 2.5 hours, switch to low for another hour. At 3.5 hours or so, if the veggies are tender and cooked but not mushy, the beef is cooked (should be soft), it’ll be ready to eat. If you feel the veggies not quite that tender, you can let it for another half an hour on low and check it every half an hour until they’re ready (as not to overcook them).
Serve with a bowl of cooked rice!
All my veggies at high heat for 5 hrs were mush but the flavor of the soup was outstanding. Maybe it’s my crockpot cooking too high?
It could be, I realized our slow cooker is pretty low powered so our high is not terribly strong, unfortunately I should have made a note of that. You can try to put it on high for about 2.5 hours first, then switch to low for another hour or so and keep checking every half an hour until vegetables are tender. Also I should have mentioned to layer the veggies so hardest ones on the bottom, then softer ones on top.