Caldereta is a typical goat or lamb stew from Extremadura, a large landlocked region in the South West of Spain which borders Portugal. Extremadura is famous for it’s Pimentón de la Vera (smoked paprika) and Jamón ibérico. The region contains vast swaithes of park and farmland along with beautifully preserved Roman and Moorish arcitecture. Extremadura has suffered from a rural flight in the last 70 years, as many famillies left farming for better paid jobs in cities. Many small towns are practically deserted now and Extremadura has become the cheapest region in Spain for house buying.
Caldereta can also be found in the neighbouring Spanish regions of Castilla-La Mancha, Castilla y León and Andalucía and as Extremadura is an Iberian pig farming region, you will sometimes find it cooked with pork.
Receta de Caldereta de Cabrito (serves 4):
1 kg kid goat (chopped on the bone)
1 large onion (chopped)
6 cloves garlic (chopped)
3 medium tomatoes (grated)
1 large carrot (chopped)
1 small red pepper (chopped)
1 small green pepper (chopped)
4 medium flowery potatoes (cut irregularly)
1/2 teaspoon pimentón de la Vera (dulce)
1/2 teaspoon pimentón de la Vera (picante)
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons ground thyme and rosemary
1 pint (500ml) lamb or chicken stock
a large glass of dry white wine (Albariño or Pitarra)
a splash of sherry vinegar
Sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste
This recipe is interchangeable using goat or lamb.
Season then brown the goat in plenty of olive oil – it’s better to do this in two batches rather than crowd the pan.
Reserve the meat and sofreír (gently poach) the chopped onion in the same pan and oil (add more if necessary).
When the onion is soft and sticky, add the chopped garlic and grate on the tomatoes (cut them in half and grate the wet side – dispose of the leftover skin).
Stir in the carrot and sweet peppers.
Sprinkle on the pimentón and herbs, with a splash of sherry vinegar.
Using a small sharp knife cut and break the peeled potatoes into the pan. This is a Spanish technique which allows more starch to escape from the potatoes and thicken a stew.
Return the goat to the cazuela and pour on the stock and wine. Submerge two bay leaves in the stock.
Cover and cook gently for 2 hours or until tender.
Majado (thickener and flavour enhancer):
200g goat’s liver
2 small pieces fried bread
4 cloves garlic
15 blanched peeled almonds (toasted)
2 choricero peppers (soaked in boiling water for an hour)
1 guindilla or other hot chilli pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin seeds
a splash of sherry vinegar
Fry a couple of pieces of stale bread in olive oil or lard. In Spain the heat and humidity makes bread go stale within a few hours, so there are many recipes which use up the leftovers.
Fry about 200g of goat or lamb’s liver, until it is done (to your taste) – slightly pink inside is good for me. It was a fat piece, so I cut it in half for cooking.
Goat’s liver is a complete revelation and not like lamb’s at all. IMHO it’s far more like goose liver and incredibly tender – definitely not goaty or gamey! When I went to buy the goat I asked for some liver too, half expecting not to find any and would have happily used lamb’s liver instead. I will have to buy more, to cook as a main dish, with bacon!
Do deglaze the pan with a little wine and add this to the caldereta.
Toast the almonds in a frying pan,
followed by the cumin seeds.
Soak the choricero peppers in boiling water for an hour or so. If you can’t find these, you can buy choricero pepper paste in jars. Otherwise use pimientos – roasted red peppers (which are also available in jars). Remove the stem and seeds from the choricero pepper.
Traditionally, one would mash/crush the majado ingredients with a mortar and pestle, but it’s easier (especially with the liver) to put everything into a blender, do grind the almonds with the cumin first though first. Add water, or better, the pepper soaking liquid to make a thick paste.
When the goat is nice and tender, stir in the majado to thicken the sauce. I came across a recipe here for caldereta, where someone uses liver paté to thicken the sauce and I can see some sense in that if you don’t have the other ingredients to hand.
Cook for another 10 – 15 minutes
and then serve with a sprinkle of chopped parsley or coriander (cilantro).
Ideally one should drink a Pitarra with the caldereta – Pitarra is an artisanal wine, made in clay jars, predating the arival of the Romans in Spain. This wine is still made using traditional methods and with most local grape varites. You may have trouble buying Pitarra outside of Spain, in which case I reccomend an Albariño – Camino de Cabras would be an obvious choice!
While eating the caldereta, I couldn’t help noticing some similarity in texture, plus the almond flavour alongside goat (which is like lamb), to Indian and Persian dishes – particulalry Lamb Korma. Obvioulsy there were no peppers, potatoes or tomatoes in Spain under Moorish rule (nor anywhere else, outside of the Americas), but they have been invited into most old world cuisines since 1492. There is a recipe for lamb, onions and pounded almonds (White Tafâyâ Stew with Almonds) in an anonymous 13th Century Al-Andalus Cookbook online and you will find a similar lamb stew with turmeric and apricots cooked in North Africa. …and of course, there’s a distinct connection between the thickening of caldereta with ground almonds and soups like Ajoblanco.