Olla de Carne is a cherished and iconic beef stew from Costa Rica that symbolizes tradition and celebrates flavors. Imagine a pot brimming with aromatic broth, tender meats, and a rainbow of locally grown seasonal vegetables.
It’s a comforting embrace in a bowl, a taste of history, and a promise of hearty satisfaction. The best part is that you can customize the flavors to your liking and even make it months in advance!
What Is Olla De Carne (Costa Rican Beef Stew)?
The name “Olla de Carne” means “pot of meat,” and encapsulates the essence of this dish: a medley of meat, vegetables, and spices that give it its distinctive savory and earthy taste.
The main components include beef (typically a tougher cut like flank, shank, or beef short ribs), a variety of root vegetables such as taro roots, yuca (cassava), sweet potatoes, and regular potatoes. Other vegetables you will often find in an Olla de Carne recipe include carrots, onion, and sweet corn.
Furthermore, fruits like plantains and bell pepper (yes, it’s technically a fruit) are popular additions that help balance the overwhelming savory flavor of the beef.
And of course, no Olla de Carne beef stew would be complete without a ton of aromatics and spices like garlic, salt, pepper, herbs, and cumin.
I developed my recipe to be a punch of flavor! While the ingredient list may seem long, they’re all easy to find and add a wonderful complexity to the overall taste of the Costa Rican recipe.
How to Make the Perfect Costa Rican Olla De Carne?
While the preparation of Olla de Carne may take a while, the active cooking process is pretty quick. Once you have all your ingredients prepped and ready, start by bringing a large pot of water to a boil.
Add in the skirt steak, beef ribs, and your aromatics and half of your seasonings, and cook for 45 minutes. Add your vegetables to the pot now, with the harder vegetables going in first and the softer vegetables going in last.
Stir the stew until all your vegetables are soft. Now you can add the rest of your seasonings, depending on your taste, and remove the Olla de Carne from the heat.
Serving Suggestions For Olla De Carne
Olla de Carne is one of those beef stew recipes with hundreds of amazing accompaniments. This allows you to customize your meal every time you serve it.
White Rice: A generous serving of fluffy, steamed white rice is often placed alongside the stew. The mild and neutral flavor of rice complements the rich and savory broth of Olla de Carne, making it an ideal accompaniment.
Corn Tortillas: In some regions of Costa Rica, corn tortillas are served with Olla de Carne. These tortillas can be used to scoop up the stew or to create small tacos with the stew’s ingredients.
Salsa Lizano: Salsa Lizano is a tangy and slightly sweet sauce that enhances the flavors of the stew. Diners often drizzle it over their servings to add an extra layer of taste.
Plantains: In some variations of Costa Rican Olla de Carne, additional plantains may be served, either as a side dish or as part of the stew. These sweet and starchy plantains offer a delightful contrast to the savory elements of the dish.
How To Store Leftover Olla De Carne
To store leftover Olla de Carne, first, allow the meat stew to cool to room temperature. Once it’s cooled, transfer it to an airtight container, ensuring that the lid is securely sealed.
Leftover Olla de Carne can be safely stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. When reheating, make sure it reaches a safe internal temperature before serving.
In order to freeze it, place the Costa Rican beef and vegetable stew in airtight containers, leaving some room for expansion. Label them with the date and contents info.
Frozen Olla de Carne can typically be stored for up to 3 months.
More Delicious soups and stews
Olla De Carne (Costa Rican Beef Stew)
- 8 cups Water
- 1 pound Skirt Steak, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 pound Beef Ribs, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 bunch fresh Thyme, leaves removed from stalks and minced
- 1 medium Onion, diced
- 1 Celery stalk, diced
- 1 medium Red Bell Pepper, diced
- 3 crushed Garlic cloves
- 2 Bay leaves
- 1 bunch Cilantro, minced
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1/2 tsp Cumin
- 1/2 tsp Black Pepper
- 1 medium Carrot, cut into 1/2-inch slices
- 2 Cassava, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 2 ears Corn, cut into 1/2-inch slices
- 2 medium Sweet Potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 4 medium Potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 ripe Plantain, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch slices
- 1 green Plantain, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch slices
- 2 small Pumpkins, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1/2 pound Cabbage, sliced into 1/2-inch chunks
- 1 large Chayote, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- Add the water to a large pot and set it over medium-high heat, letting it come to a boil.
- Add the skirt steak and the beef ribs to the boiling water along with the onion, celery, bell pepper, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, half of the cilantro, salt, pepper, and cumin. Cook for 45 minutes, removing any foam or fat that forms on the surface.
- After 45 minutes, add in the carrots, cassava, and corn to the pot and let cook for another 30 minutes.
- Now, add in the potatoes, sweet potatoes, plantains, chayote, cabbage, and pumpkin. Cook for 20 minutes, constantly stirring until the vegetables are soft.
- Lastly, add in the remaining cilantro along with salt if necessary, and remove the Olla de Carne from the heat.
- Serve with rice and a spicy sauce. Enjoy!