The Spanish verb guisar means “to cook”; a mundane definition of guisado could then be, “any dish made of edibles that are cooked.” In Mexico, guisados are more specifically associated with any ingredients cooked in a sauce, which may be thick, broth-like, or even creamy; If I had to compress the definition into a word in English, the closest would be “stew”, with some reserve, though, since there are some guisados that are stir-fried or cooked for short times. Guisados may include meat (for example, my Tinga Poblana, a beef and Chorizo Stew with Chipotle), or be vegetarian (such as my Three Sisters Stew, with zucchini, corn and green beans). They are also versatile because one guisado may act as a main dish, served with a side of rice or refried beans, or if several of them are arranged as a display, with tortillas on the side, they become a “tacos de guisado” table, sort of a taco bar where people can choose different flavours of guisado as filling for each of their tacos. This is a popular spread at taquizas (taco parties); when planning one, it is very handy to start cooking a couple of guisados each day during the final countdown to the event, since they keep well in the fridge, and are easy to reheat (some even tastier that way) right before serving. Last but not least, guisados may also be served as proxies for side dishes (called guarniciones), becoming sidekicks to a steak or other protein.
Many restaurant menus in Mexico include a section with a list of guisados to choose from as guarniciones, as part of a combo platter. The photo above shows my choice of eggs and sides at “Pascola“, a country style restaurant where my sister and I had breakfast during my last visit to Culiacan, in the Mexican state of Sinaloa. The eggs are fried, one coated with red sauce and one with green sauce; I have a post about this style called “huevos divorciados” (divorced eggs). The guarniciones are two vegetarian guisados in creamy sauces: Green Beans in Chipotle, and Poblano Strips with Cream (a staple in “tacos de guisado” spreads.) I will be sharing my recipes for these two guisados in my next posts.