A Guiso by any Other Name

So, as noted, at least on my FB page, someone gave me a meatloaf pan recently. I had to make a meatloaf although it had been literally decades since. I did not make a blog post because, Meatloaf! It came out nicely but now I have a bulk of hamburger which is something I rarely buy. Now I could have been conservative and just purchased as much as needed, but being the thrifty individual I am, had to buy the 5lb chub to save almost 50%/lb. I used less than half of the ground beef for the meatloaf. What to do now?

Meatloaf with Bratwurst

No, not another meatloaf, Guiso, that’s what.

This dish was made fairly frequently by my ex-wife and I always thought it was hamburger soup. The term was never used for anything else so it made sense to me. I found out much later that it actually means stew. She made other stews but they were never called guiso or guisado. I never did learn Spanish, my loss.

According to Wikipedia, “One of the first books written on Spanish cuisine, El Libro de los Guisados, written by Catalan chief Robert de Nola in 1525 CE, was based upon an older, Catalan book called Llibre de Coch, and lists various different recipes of the 15th century Mediterranean. Among these were the first recipes for guiso.

The word originated in the 18th century edition of the Diccionario de autoridades, [es] as:

“A dish that is composed and seasoned with broth, spices and other things that are roasted or fried.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guiso

That makes sense, I fry the onions & garlic, then the ground beef, then the tomato until it is almost dry. I add spices and stock plus potatoes. What you have here friends is a Guiso. All in all, it is a quick and easy thing to cook.

Once again, this is not quite a recipe, weights and measures are not used. This is something you just cook. I will give you the run down.

I tend to use a higher fat content ground beef. While 80/20 is just fine, if the price is great on 75/25 that will do the trick. Fat is Flavor.


Starting with at least ½ of a large onion, chop and sweat in a bit of oil until lightly browned. I add 2 whole cloves of garlic to the onions. You could brown the meat first and use that fat for the onions, but it usually leaves too much grease in the finished dish. After the onions are done to your taste, remove from pan and brown a pound or so of your ground meat. I like to leave chunks and not break it up too much. The important thing is that you allow the meat to brown which adds flavor.

Once the meat is nicely browned, it needs to be drained of excess fat. I use a wide skimmer then pour off the fat into another vessel and add the meat back to the pan with the onions and garlic. You could use tomato paste but today there was none in the cupboard so ½ 28 oz. can of cubed tomatoes in juice fit the bill.



Let the tomatoes cook until almost all of the liquid is cooked off to concentrate the flavors. Next in is the stock or broth. I use chicken stock since it is almost always available from my poached chicken. I use just enough to cover the meat and allow room to cover the potatoes to be added. You can use canned chicken or beef stock but I always recommend either no salt or low salt. Add seasonings of your choice. I use ground cumin, ground coriander, smoked paprika, salt and pepper as a base. If you like some heat, you can use fresh chiles cooked with the onions or dried chili flakes. This particular cook is for the tender tongued but I will add the heat to my bowl when serving.


Bring your pot to a slow simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Add sliced potatoes and bring back to a simmer, covered, long enough to cook the potatoes to your liking. It goes without saying that if you prefer more of a soup than a stew, add more stock.


Although it is not traditional, I like to add shredded cabbage to my bowl for texture and color. In addition, I usually add spicy chipotle molido when I serve or perhaps some harissa for the heat.

With beef, tomatoes, potatoes, and cabbage garnish, this bowl is a complete meal. It uses one pot so clean up is a simple affair. If you like stews and have ground beef to use up, this is a good way to go.


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