AS FEATURED ON MEDIACORP CHANNEL 8 <AH MA CAN COOK>: Home-style Mexican Rice with Slow-cooked Beef Shin Stew: This chunky Mexican beef stew is slow-cooked in a hearty tomato-based gravy for 3 hours to get a tender, succulent and gelatinous texture! Accompanied by an appetising rice infused with olive oil, tomato, garlic and onions, and topped with a generous sprinkling of raisins.
UPDATE: I’m excited to share that I was featured in Mediacorp Channel 8 <Ah Ma Can Cook> episode 7 which just aired on national television this evening 25 Oct 2017! So we no longer need to keep the secret that this Mexican Beef Stew recipe is the dish that I am teaching the hosts Kym Ng and Desmond Tan to cook! If you missed it, you can also watch it here on catch-up tv at toggle (Singapore only). What do you think of my TV ‘debut’? Mandarin pass or not?
We stayed in Reading, UK for 3 years when my husband was studying there. Our neighbour across the street was a Mexican family with 2 children. I often went over with my 2 children for play dates while we mums would exchange recipes and cooking tips. She taught me how to cook home-style Mexican Rice dish and slow-cooked chunky beef shank stew.
Beef Shin, also known as Beef Shank, is a cut of beef taken from the lower leg. The shin is a highly worked muscle that is supported by many connective tissues which will be broken down through slow cooking over low heat resulting in a moist, tender meat with a rich flavour. It has lots of inner-muscular sinew, so you need to braise it for a long time of between 3-4 hours. Once cooked, the sinews becomes gelatinous and delicious, almost melting in your mouth. This is the best type of the beef for stewing.
I cooked this rice for my family and friends and everyone loved it very much that these two dishes have made it into the list of our family’s ‘heritage recipes’, which even my grandkids are always requesting for. Even if you are not familiar with home-style Mexican food, you must definitely give this very appetising dish a try! You won’t regret it!
Whenever I cook the Mexican Rice I have to cook more than double the amount of normal rice otherwise it will not be sufficient. Even my 2 little grandchildren aged 6 and 2+ will ask for a 2nd or 3rd helping. Not only that, instead of taking the usually 30mins to finish their rice, it takes only 10 mins for them to lick the plate of Mexican Rice clean. We always pair Mexican rice with slow-cooked Mexican Beef Shank Stew and Mexican Baked Spinach, Mushroom and Cheese for an all-Mexican-themed meal. Enjoy!
This chunky Mexican beef stew is slow-cooked in a hearty tomato-based gravy for 3 hours to get a tender, succulent and gelatinous texture! Accompanied by an appetising rice infused with olive oil, tomato, garlic and onions, and topped with a generous sprinkling of raisins.
- 3 kg Beef Shin also known as Fore-Shank (Muscle of the leg)
- 4 Litres Water
- 8 TBsp Olive Oil
- 2-3 TBsp Garlic (finely chopped)
- 1 medium size Yellow Onion (finely chopped)
- 2 big Fresh Tomatoes
- 2 1/2 tsp Salt
- 4-5 medium size Carrots
- 2 cans Tomato Paste Hunt's Brand
- 2 cans Diced Peeled Tomato Hunt's Brand
- 1 Stalk English Leek
- 6-8 Bay Leaves
- 2 1/2 litres Beef stock Stock from the beef soup
- 5 cups Jasmine rice
- 2 tsp Salt
- 5 1/2 cups Beef Stock See cooking steps
- 1 bowl Tomato Mixture See cooking steps
- 1/2 bowl Raisins
Wash the beef shin and cut into 5-cm-thick cross-sections or cut into 3 or 4 pieces per shin. See picture for what beef shin looks like.
Bring a pot of water to a boil and blanch the beef for about 15 mins to get rid of the blood clots. Then discard the water and wash the beef thoroughly removing any blood clot and set aside for later use.
Wash 5 cups of jasmine rice and pour over a sieve to drain dry.
Remove the skin from the carrots and wash. Cut the carrots into chunks about 3 cm.
Wash the leek and cut into 3-cm lengths. Wash the fresh tomatoes and cut into large cubes.
Remove the skin from the yellow onion and garlic and chop them finely.
Rinse the bay leaves and set aside.
In a large pot, boil the beef shank with the 4 litres of water for half an hour at medium heat. Skim off any scum with a ladle. Transfer the beef onto a bowl. Set aside the 5 1/2 rice cups of beef stock to cook the rice, and the rest of the beef stock (about 2.5 litres) for adding to the stew
In the wok, add in the 8 TBsp of olive oil and heat over low heat. Add in 1 1/2 cans of tomato paste and fry constantly stirring to prevent it from getting burnt until the oil separates from the tomato paste.
Add in the chopped onion and garlic to the tomato paste and fry till aromatic.
Set aside a bowl of the tomato paste mixture for frying the rice later, leaving the rest of the tomato paste in the wok.
Next, add in the 2 cans of diced tomatoes as well as the fresh tomatoes into the tomato mixture and continue to fry for another 2-3 minutes over low heat.
Then add in the leeks and bay leaves and fry over medium heat for about 5 minutes.
Add in 2 1/2 tsp salt to the mixture.
Finally, add the beef and continue to fry until well incorporated with the tomato mixture. Add in 2 1/2 litres of the beef stock and bring to a boil over high heat.
Transfer the beef mixture into a large pot, and add in the carrots.
Give the mixture a stir, then cover the pot leaving a gap and allow to simmer using medium low heat for 2 1/2 - 3 hours, stirring it occasionally to prevent the mixture from getting burnt at the bottom of the pot.
It is best to check the beef after 1 1/2 hours by using a chopstick to pierce through the meat to see if it is soft. If not, continue to stew checking on the meat occasionally.
If the gravy is drying up, add a little more of the remaining stock to it. If there is too much stock towards the end, turn on to high heat to reduce until the gravy is thickened and about 1/3 left.
Once the beef is soft and tender but not disintegrated or until the stock thickens, the beef stew is ready to be served. Best served with Mexican Rice.
Heat up the wok over medium heat. Pour in the drained rice and fry for about 10-15 mins until the rice is very dry or turns opaque but not burnt. (Tip: It should be the colour of glutinous rice. Be careful not to char the rice, you may need to turn the heat to low if necessary). Remove and transfer into a rice cooker pot to cool down.
Add the 1 bowl of tomato paste mixture back into the wok and turn heat to low. Stir in the rice until it is uniformly coated with the tomato mixture. Add in 2 1/2 tsp of salt and mix well and fry for another 3 mins.
Transfer the rice back to the rice cooker. Add in the 5 1/2 cups of beef stock to the rice and cook as per normal. (Tip: The rice and the stock must both be cooled down before combining)
Once the rice is cooked, add in the raisin and mix well. Keep warm until ready to serve.
Best served hot with slow-cooked Mexican beef stew.
- The Beef Shin, also known as the foreshank (as opposed to the hindshank), is a cut of beef taken from the lower leg. The shin is a highly worked muscle that is supported by many connective tissues which will be broken down through slow cooking over low heat resulting in a moist, tender meat with a rich flavour. It has lots of inner-muscular sinew, so you need to braise it for a long time of between 3-4 hours. Once cooked, the sinews becomes gelatinous and delicious, almost melting in your mouth. This is the best type of the beef for stewing.
- You can also use beef brisket if you prefer. For my family, we like beef shin the best because it has more sinews which give very smooth gelatinous texture. Here's a comparison of how beef brisket and beef shin look, so you can buy the right cut.
- Cut the beef shin into 3 or 4 pieces per shin (about 5 cm cross section). If the beef is cut too small, they will disintegrate easily during the cooking process. Do also note that the beef tends to shrink quite a bit during the blanching process, so you need to make allowance for that!
- Always blanch the beef chunks in boiling water to get rid of the scum and smell, otherwise it will affect the flavour of your dish.
- The stewing time varies according to the type of pot used. It is best to use a pot that is less likely to dry up the stock quickly. In general, stainless steel pots are preferred for stewing and braising as compared to aluminium pots, because they are thicker and there is less direct contact with the heat source, so the gravy doesn't dry out as fast. For me, I prefer to use my stainless steel AMC pot which has a very thick base, so the water doesn't dry up so fast.
- Make sure there is sufficient water in the beef stew at all times, otherwise it will get burnt.
- Fresh tomatoes are used to add a more tangy flavour to the stew.
- 300 ml of Red Port Wine can be added to the stew at the beginning if you prefer.
- As for the rice, it must be fried till it is very dry but not burnt. The colour should be opaque like the colour of raw glutinous rice. You may need to turn heat to low if necessary to avoid charring the rice.
- For those who do not eat beef, you can use chicken thighs and chicken stock instead but the cooking time will be much shorter.
- Both the rice and beef stock must be completely cooled before cooking. Reason: if both the rice and beef stock are hot then the cooking time of the rice will be incorrect resulting in under-cooked rice.
- Always remember to add 1/2 cups more water than the rice, because the rice is very dry after frying and will absorb a little more water. For example, you would normally add 5 cups of water to 5 cups of rice. However for Mexican rice, you need to add 5 1/5 cups of beef stew for 5 cups of rice. The end result is for the rice to have a couscous-like texture.
- Make sure you get tomato paste, not tomato puree or tomato sauce for making the sauce. Of the three, tomato paste has the thickest and driest consistency. If you use tomato puree or tomato sauce, the rice and stew will not be as flavourful, and the rice will be too wet. We like to use the Hunt's brand of tomato paste.
- Do not use high heat to saute the tomato paste as the paste is thick and it gets burnt very easily and stuck to the bottom of the wok, ruining the entire dish.
- In general, never overheat olive oil as it will lose its flavour. For cooking purposes, normal olive oil will do. Its a waste to use virgin or extra virgin olive oil for cooking, instead you should save them for use in salad dressings.
Suggested Modifications for Special Diets
- Baby/Toddler-Friendly: Suitable for toddlers (age 1 and above)
- Child-Friendly: No modifications needed.
- Egg-Free: No modifications needed.
- Fish-Free: No modifications needed.
- Gluten-Free: Replace the plain flour with corn flour
- Nut-Free: No modifications needed.
- Shellfish-Free: No modifications needed.