Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States, but it wasn’t until last year that it was signed into law as a Federal holiday by US President Joe Biden. Although the end of slavery had been declared on January 1st, 1863 by then US president Abraham Lincoln, the news of the emancipation reached states at different times across the South, and in Texas, it took two and half years. Two months after the end of the Civil War, when Union troops arrived in Galveston on June 19, 1865, they found that news had not yet reached the city, and that slavery was still in effect across the state. The leader of the Union Troops, General Gordon Granger, announced the emancipation right from the balcony of the former Confederate Army headquarters, and later on, there was a collective decision to recognize June nineteenth as the date of the actual emancipation, which became known as Juneteenth.
Back in February, I wrote a post about the Mascogos, a group of Afro-Mexicans, in jeopardy to vanish, yet historically very relevant, living in the Northern Mexican state of Coahuila. Their ancestors escaped slavery in the United States by crossing into Mexico in the mid 1800s, where slavery had been officially abolished since 1829, spearheaded by president Vicente Guerrero, another Afro-Mexican. Mascogos have been celebrating Juneteenth for generations, with a fusion of African, Mexican and Seminole (indigenous groups from Florida) traditions, such as dancing to música norteña (Northern Mexico music), singing hymnals to hand-clapped rhythms called capeyuye, and sharing a special meal. Every day dishes might consist of eggs or chicken soup, but for Juneteenth, the whole community conflates to prepare a feast: men gather and prepare animals and vegetables; children collect wood for the fire; women clean, chop and cook in earnest to create tetapún (sweet potato skillet bread), empanadas de calabaza (pumpkin patties), pan de mortero (mortar bread), soske (a beverage made from ashes and corn, cracked in wooden mortars), and several meat dishes, such as chicharrones and cortadillo (beef or goat meat cooked in a chunky tomato sauce).
For the full story of the Mascogos’ journey to Coahuila, visit my post “Black History Month- Vicente Guerrero and the Mascogos of Coahuila“, and check out my recipes for Tetapún (sweet potato bread) and Empanadas de calabaza y camote (pumpkin and sweet potato patties). In this post, I am sharing a recipe for cortadillo, also traditional across the whole state of Coahuila.
Virtually any part of meat will work; tough goat or stewing beef will need to simmer for hours, and for shorter cooking times, tender and boneless beef cuts are the best. I chose a thick piece of top sirloin steak:
I removed any visible fat around the meat, and then cut into cubes:
Northern Style Beef Stew – Cortadillo de Res
Ingredients (for four to six portions)
1 ½ lb (680g) beef meat, such as top sirloin; excess fat removed, and cut into bite-sized chunks
1 jalapeño pepper, or to taste; washed, stem removed and chopped
2 medium tomatoes; washed and chopped
½ white onion; peeled and chopped
2 tbsp oil
1 clove garlic; peeled and chopped finely
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt, or to taste
½ cup water
Warm up oil in a large skillet, preferably iron, over medium heat. Add cubed meat, and fry, turning once after two minutes (photo below, left). Create an opening in the centre of the skillet and add onions (photo below, right):
Cook onions until translucent, then mix with the meat. Add chopped pepper, garlic and cumin (photo below, left). Stir to incorporate, then add chopped tomatoes, and mix in (photo below, right):
Continue cooking and stirring for another two to three minutes, then pour water into the skillet (photo below, left). Stir and bring back to boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Season with salt, and cook uncovered, until the meat is tender and fully cooked, some of the water has evaporated, and all flavours have melded (photo below, right):
Serve hot as a main dish:
The flavour and texture of this beef cortadillo were very well balanced, with the veggies and aromatics perfectly complementing the tender meat. Serve with tortillas, either corn or wheat, to be rolled and used as a supplementary tool of the fork, to scoop up meat, veggies, and juices:
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I am sharing my post at Thursday Favourite Things #546, with Bev @ Eclectic Red Barn, Pam @ An Artful Mom, Katherine @ Katherine’s Corner, Amber @ Follow the Yellow Brick Home, Theresa @ Shoestring Elegance and Linda @ Crafts a la Mode.