Tasajo is dry cured beef that’s stewed in tomato sauce with onions, red bell peppers and savory spices. It’s the salty cousin to Cuban ropa vieja.
1 lb tasajo (dry, cured beef) See note
½ a small onion (1/2 cup), chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Half a red bell pepper, cut into strips
½ cup tomato sauce
2 tablespoons cooking wine
½ teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Start the day before. Remove the tasajo from its vacuum sealed package and cut into 2-3 pieces, across the grain. Set in a bowl and cover with water and let it soak overnight. You can leave it out or refrigerate, whatever you prefer.
The tasajo is covered with an orange fat layer. You can rinse this off or leave it on, either way it’s OK.
The next day, drain the water. Add the tasajo to a pot filled with water. Boil for 20 minutes. The orange layer will melt away.
Change water and bring to a boil and boil for another 20 minutes.
Remove the beef from the water and let it cool. Shred the beef with your fingers and remove any fatty tissue.
Chop the onion, cut the red bell pepper into slices, crush the garlic.
Take 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sauté onions and peppers until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the beef, tomato sauce and cooking wine. Cook for about 15-20 minutes (if it’s a bit dry, add a ¼ cup of water).
Serve with congri and fried boniato. See note.
Tasajo is sold in vacuum sealed packages, and it’s covered with a bright orange layer of waxy fat. Don’t be put off by this, this layer helps preserve the meat and it melts away when you boil it. You should be able to find this specialty beef at most Latin supermarkets.
Boniato is a Cuban sweet potato that’s traditionally served with the tasajo. The sweetness of the potato helps balance the saltiness of the beef. If you can’t find boniato, substitute with sweet potato. Cut the potato into chunks or quarter inch think rounds, then roast or fry. You can also boil the potato (I never boil, though. It’s so much tastier when it’s fried or roasted.
Keywords: tasajo, cuban tasajo, tasajo cubano, cured dry beef