Although I love New York and its extraordinary cuisine, I find myself missing my food back home in Puerto Rico all the time. I lived there for a large portion of my life, and Caribbean food is something that every one should try once in their life. Puertorrican food is Criollo, so its food has a strong Spanish influence, but with a little island twist given that Puerto Rico was once a Spanish colony. 

A food that I feel embodies Puerto Rico is carne guisada, or beef stew. Although beef stew is not specific to Puerto Rico, it is a dish that can vary greatly from country to country. I do not know if it is because my great grandmother used to make it as frequent as possible, but this dish feels like home. Carne guisada is one of those dishes that incorporates many flavors in a harmonious way, and the dish constantly inspires creativity. To give a recipe for this dish does not do it justice because I find myself adding an ingredient every time I make it, which is yet another reason why I love this dish!

Before we begin this recipe, I wanted to inform the cook that since it is a family recipe, measurements are not really to the book. I estimated how much I use, but if there's a different measurement that feels better to use for all the cooks out there, I encourage it. 

The Vazquez Puertorrican Beef Stew Recipe

  • Prep Time:20 mins
  • Cook Time:1 hr
  • Total Time:1 hr 20 mins
  • Servings:8
  • Medium


  • 2 pds beef chunks
  • 1 white onion
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • smoked cooking ham
  • 1 packet Sazon
  • 1 beef broth cube
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 celery
  • 2 red potatoes
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/3 cup white vinegar
  • 4 leaves Recao/Culantro
  • 2 tsp Spanish green olives
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce
  • Seasoning: Adobo
  • Optional: Red cooking wine
rice, beef, chicken, pork
Wendy You
  • Step 1

    First, we want to marinate our beef chunks by seasoning it with your desired amount of Adobo.

    Daniela Garcia
  • Step 2

    Then, we mince the 3 cloves of garlic and add it to the meat. If you want an extra layer of flavor, sprinkle some oregano in the mix. Then, you add the white vinegar and mix.

    Daniela Garcia
  • Step 3

    While we let the meat marinate for around 20 minutes, we can start chopping. First, we chop the sofrito. To make sofrito, you dice and mix one white onion, green pepper, and red pepper. Save around three spoonfuls of that sofrito and store the rest in your freezer for later use. Sofrito can be used in so many other recipes, and it adds a magnificent flavor!

    Daniela Garcia
  • Step 4

    Now, let's finish prep! First, we dice the cooked ham. Save around 8-10 pieces and store the rest in freezer. Then, chop a celery and carrot. Finally, chop the 2 red potatoes.

    Daniela Garcia
  • Step 5

    By this point, the beef should be decently marinated. Since I do not have a lot of time on my hands, we will be using an Instant Pot to make our beef stew. Press the button Sautee, and brown the beef.

    Daniela Garcia
  • Step 6

    Once browned, remove beef from Instant Pot, and add cooked ham and sofrito onto the pot. Sautee until onions start to become transparent, and then add the tomato sauce. Then, add beef back into the pot.

    Daniela Garcia
  • Step 7

    Once tomato sauce has been mixed in with the mixture, turn off Sautee button, and press Stew button and set the time to 1 hour.

    Daniela Garcia
  • Step 8

    Once the Instant Pot is on Stew, add 7 cups of water. Then, add the beef broth cube, packet of Sazon, Spanish green olives, 4 leaves of Recao/Culantro, 2-3 bay leaves, celery, carrot, splash of cooking wine, and potatoes. Stir and close the lid (make sure steam release valve is closed), and wait an hour.

    Daniela Garcia
  • Step 9

    Once the hour is done, let it cool down for an additional 10 minutes (do not skip this step). Then open steam release valve, and open lid once all the pressure has been lifted. We are now ready to serve!

    Daniela Garcia

There you have it! We have officially made my great-grandmother's Puertorrican beef stew recipe. A side dish that would perfectly accompany this dish is white rice. They blend beautifully together, and as soon as I take a bite, I am transported back to my home in Puerto Rico!