What is carne en su jugo?
Carne en su jugo, which means “meat in its juice,” is a beef and bean soup that originated in Guadalajara in 1967.
There are three key ingredients which make carne en su jugo pretty special.
One: it has bacon. Enough said.
Two: the broth has tomatillos (called tomates verdes in Mexico), which gives it a fresh and tarty flavor.
And third: there’s the lime, which you should squeeze all over the soup before eating. It brings the whole dish together.
On top of all this goes a pile of chopped cilantro and onions, along with usually a grilled cebollita asada (Mexican green onion). Some cooks will also put on some avocado, but that doesn’t happen too often in Ajijic.
History of Carne en su Jugo
Carne en su jugo was invented in Guadalajara by Roberto de la Torre, who today operates a small chain of carne en su jugo restaurants in the city. You can visit the original store, the birthplace of carne en su jugo, on Calle Plan de San Luís.
It’s a popular dish in Guadalajara and it’s pretty well-known across Jalisco, being called one of Jalisco’s most representative dishes. But it’s less common in surroundings states and not part of the Mexican diet at all in most places.
Mexico has countless dishes which are regional. Many of these foods, like carne en su jugo, might sometimes be unknown to people who live in a faraway part of the country.
Carne en su jugo is still virtually unheard of outside of Mexico. Not even Mexican cuisine’s most famous ambassador, Diana Kennedy, mentions it in any of her books of Mexican recipes.
But one day, this amazing dish will be “discovered” and made popular by some TV chef north of the border.
How do you make carne en su jugo?
Carne en su jugo is not difficult to make. Here is a recipe adapted from the González-Acosta family of Tlajamulco, a suburb southwest of Guadalajara.
Takes about 30 minutes to prepare, plus 45 minutes to simmer on the stove.
- 1 package of bacon (about 250g)
- Ground cumin (1g or 1/2 tsp)
- Fresh ground black pepper (1g or 1/2 tsp)
- Carne para carne en su jugo (1 kilo)
- White onion (115g or 2/3 cup)
- 6 tomatillos (200g)
- 1 med serrano chiles (5g)
- 2-3 cloves of garlic (13g)
- Cilantro (15g or 1/2 cup)
- 4 cups of chicken broth
- 2 medium Mexican bay leaves
- 16 oz (including liquids) of pre-cooked frijol de olla (whole pinto beans)
- Sprinkle on the chopped meat the ground cumin, fresh ground pepper, and salt (2 grams or 1 tsp). Let sit while doing the next steps.
- Start heating your comal or a regular pan on medium. Place a piece of aluminum foil on the surface of the comal. This will make cleanup a lot easier. Slice the serranos in half length-wise, de-vein and remove the seeds. Set the tomatillos, garlic, onion (chopped in half or quarters), and serrano peppers on top of the foil. Allow to cook and blacken, turning every few minutes, while proceeding to next steps. The vegetables should be well blackened. Alternatively, you can poach the vegetables, which you can find at a nearby frutería, by tossing them into boiling water four about 8 minutes. Blackening the vegetables will add more complex flavors to the dish and is especially popular in Oaxaca.
- Fry 1 package of bacon in a large saucepan. Bacon should be rather crispy so it doesn’t get soggy in the soup. Set bacon on paper towels to drain, but keep the bacon fat in the pan. Set aside the bacon until the end.
- Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the bacon grease and turn to med-high heat until the oil nears the smoke point.
- Add the beef and spice mixture from step two into the pan with the oil and bacon grease. Sear for a few minutes until just browned on all sides.
- While the meat is cooking, put the blackened onion, serranos, garlic and tomatillos into a blender, along with the cilantro. Add 2 cups of the chicken broth. Blend on high until very smooth.
- Add the contents of the blender into the pan with the meat if the pan is large enough (or combine the two into a new, bigger pot). Add the remaining 2 cups of chicken broth. Cook partially covered for about 45-60 minutes on low until the beef is tender.
- 15 minutes before serving, add the beans into the pot, along with salt if necessary. Add about 1-2 cups of water so that the broth is served quite thin. The consistency of the broth should be somewhat thicker than chicken soup and nowhere near a chowder.
- When it’s ready to serve, ladle it into bowls and put in a whole piece of bacon. Or you can chop up or crumble the bacon into small pieces so it’s easier to eat. Serve it with diced onions and cilantro on top.
- The final step to a perfect carne en su jugo is to squeeze half of a key lime over everything or allow your guests to do it themselves.