Venezuela’s Asado Negro is a bottom-round roast cooked slowly in a rich caramel sauce until the meat is sweet, tender and the color of ”a velvet dinner jacket seen across a dark lawn at midnight” (thank you Sam Sifton at NYTimes! Read his article on Asado Negro from 2010.) It’s also considered the signature dish of Caracas, Venezuela’s capital.
In addition to the caramel sauce, vinegar is used, creating a lovely balance between sweet and tart. The type of vinegar used seems to change according to recipe and/or region. I’ve seen rice vinegar suggested, white wine vinegar and sherry vinegar. I chose to use an apple cider vinegar but I only recommend it if you really like the bite of vinegar. A softer sherry or white wine vinegar blends more fully with the caramel and natural sugars of the meat.
I’ve also changed the recipe to use cubed stewing beef. This is mainly because I’m single and cooking this amount of meat means I have to freeze about 2/3s of it if I don’t want to eat the same dinner for two weeks straight. A stewed beef freezes better than a roast. It’s also an easy way to make a fresh tasting winter stew. But if you’re having guests a roast is a great way to go.
One health suggestion: you really don’t need to add a lot of salt to this recipe. Between the Spoonable caramel sauce which has Camargue sea salt, the tamari sauce, the Worcestershire sauce and the celery (contains a lot of natural salt) you’ve got plenty of sodium. If you’re going to add salt, use not more than a tbsp of sea salt. Or better yet, add after served and tasted.
And last thing. Try serving on top of some fragrant white rice. Brown rice is ok. A mix of wild and white rice is kind of wonderful. And a side of room temp palm hearts will seal the deal.
INGREDIENTS FOR ASADO NEGRO
1 4oz jar of Spoonable Just Caramel
1 cup dry red wine
1 1/4 cup vinegar (your choice rice, sherry, white wine or apple cider)
a few tbsps olive oil (used when you brown the meat)
a few chunks of butter (also used when you brown the meat)
1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce (low sodium recommended)
2 tbsp Tamari (low sodium recommended)
4lbs stewing beef
3 leeks sliced roughly
1 Spanish onion thinly sliced
2 red peppers (or one red and one green) sliced in strips
1 bunch of celery — heart only; take about 3 outer layers off before slicing
6-8 cloves of garlic; sliced in half or crushed
2-3 bay leaves
a dash or two of cumin
fresh ground pepper
bunch of cilantro roughly chopped
Preheat over to 250 degrees F.
Use a small pan to heat up the Spoonable caramel sauce. Use low heat. Add the red wine and the vinegar. Stir until well blended.
Heat olive oil and butter in a heavy duty dutch oven (Yes Le Creuset rules for this). Brown your meat. Doing it in two batches is recommended. When first batch browned use slotted spoon to move to other container. Throw out the juices (mostly fat) at bottom of pot. You don’t need to wash the pot. Do it again with remaining meat.
Use same dutch oven to soften garlic, leeks, celery with bay leaves on medium heat. Once softened add tamari and Worcestershire sauces. Then put meat back in the pot with a little freshly ground pepper, cumin and a small amount of sea salt. Mix well. Put sliced peppers on top and put in oven, partially covered.
After 1.5 hours remove lid and put back in over for another 1.5 hours. At 3 hour mark put lid on part-way and cook for another hour.
The sauce should be thick and sweet. If not and still “watery”, reduce it on low heat either on the stove or in the oven.