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carne-mechada-in-white-bowl

Venezuelan Carne Mechada (Shredded Beef) Recipe

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 9 reviews
  • Author: Juyali (ju-ja-lee)
  • Prep Time: 15-30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 3 hours
  • Total Time: 3 to 3.5 hours
  • Yield: 3 cups 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Cooking
  • Cuisine: Venezuelan

Description

This Venezuelan Carne Mechada (Shredded Beef) is a simple and flavorful meat dish using shredded beef, onions, bell peppers, garlic, tomatoes, and spices. It is served alongside rice, black beans, and sweet fried plantains for a traditional Venezuelan Pabellon Criollo (the Venezuelan National Dish). 


Ingredients

Units Scale

Meat ingredients

  • 2 1/2 pounds of Chuck Roast
  • 1/2 Onion (coarsely chopped)
  • 2 Garlic cloves (thinly sliced)
  • 4 cups of Water (see quantities used in varying cooking methods below)
  • 1 teaspoon of Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Black Pepper
  • 3 Bay Leaves

Sofrito ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons of Olive Oil (Extra Virgin preferred)
  • 1 cup of Onion (finely chopped)
  • 1/2 cup of Green Bell Pepper (finely chopped)
  • 6 Garlic cloves (finely crushed or minced)
  • 1 cup of Tomatoes (crushed - canned work fine)
  • 1 teaspoon of Sweet Paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon of Cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Black Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of Salt
  • 1/2 cup of Cilantro (finely chopped)

Instructions

I divided this Carne Desmechada recipe into 3 sections:  (1) Cooking meat, (2) Shredding the meat, and (3) Making the Sofrito and putting it all together. 

1. Cook the Meat

I used Chuck Roast in this recipe using a stovetop saucepot method. I am also providing other cooking methods depending on your equipment availability and time. I hope this is helpful! 
The traditional cooking method first involves boiling the meat in water and seasonings to tenderize it and infuse the flavors. 

Stovetop saucepot method

  1. Cut the meat into about 6 pieces, remove excess fat, and place it in the saucepot (or Dutch Oven). Add the 4 cups of water, coarsely chopped onion, thinly sliced garlic, bay leaves, salt, and pepper. 
  2.  Boil covered at medium heat for about 3 hours or until the meat is tender (it must pull apart easily). 
  3.  As the meat cooks, check the water level and add more if needed (the water should always cover the meat to prevent the meat from drying up). Adjust the seasoning by adding more salt and pepper to your taste. You should always check the seasoning (Verifique la sazon!).
  4. You will want to end up with at least 1 cup of beef broth. Now jump to step 2 (Shred the meat).

Traditional Stove Top-Pressure Cooker Method

  1. Cut the meat into 6 pieces, remove excess fat, and place it in the pressure cooker. For this method, add only 2 cups of water (not 4) or just enough to cover up the meat.
  2. Add the chopped onion, thinly sliced garlic, bay leaves, salt, and pepper. Close the pressure cooker according to its instructions, and cook at high heat until it reaches pressure. Then lower the temperature setting on your stovetop to “medium” heat.
  3. Cook for 45 minutes, then shut it off. Allow the pressure to be released entirely before opening the cooker. With this method, you will end up with about 1.5 cups of beef broth. Now jump to step 2 (Shred the meat).

Crock-Pot (slow cooker) Method

  1. Cut the meat into 6 pieces, remove excess fat, and place it in the crockpot (slow cooker).  For this method, add only 1 cup of water (not 4) or just enough to cover up the meat.
  2. Add the coarsely chopped onion, thinly sliced garlic, bay leaves, salt, and pepper.
    Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6-8 hours. I love this method because it’s set it and forget it.  You can also cook it overnight.  Now go to step 2 (Shred the meat).

2. Shred the meat

  1. Remove the meat from the pot and place it on a plate to cool down.  Pour the broth into a strainer until all have gone through it. Discard the solids and reserve the beef broth.
  2. Pull the meat apart into strands with your hands or use two forks to pull it apart. Set aside. 

3. Make the Sofrito and put it all together

  1. Crush the garlic with a garlic presser (the best method to get the best flavor) or finely mince them. Finely chop the onion, green bell pepper, tomatoes, and cilantro
  2. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Sautee the onionbell pepper, and garlic. Cook at low-medium heat for 5 minutes until the onion looks translucent.  
  3.  Add the tomatoes and spices. Cook for an additional 5 minutes at low to medium heat. Now you have a Delicious Sofrito!  
  4. Add the shredded meatcilantro, and half the beef broth. Stir well and cook uncovered for about 20 minutes at low heat until most of the liquid has evaporated. If it looks too dry, adjust the liquid as needed by adding more beef broth. You will want the meat to be moist and saucy but not overly liquid.  Season to taste with additional salt and pepper. Serve and enjoy!

Notes

  1.    Dutch oven or heavy pot - Is highly recommended for the stovetop method.
  2.    Substitutions - Use skirt or flank steak, or brisket instead of chuck roast.  
  3.    Seasoning - Always check it at each step (Verifique la sazon!).
  4.    Make-ahead  - Carne Mechada can be made ahead and kept refrigerated or frozen. It will be easier to shred the meat while it is still warm. You can pre-cook the meat the day before you need to serve it. Just make sure to shred the meat before refrigerating it.
  5.    Storage - It is best if used within 4-5 days. You can freeze Carne Mechada for up to 3 months in an airtight container or freezer bag. In fact, you can double the recipe and freeze it to save time for future needs and a quick weeknight dinner. If using freezer bags, seal and squeeze out all the air. Flatten the meat into a thin layer so it can lay flat in your freezer for a quicker thaw. 
  6.    Carne Mechada usesPabellon CriolloEmpanadasArepas, and even Tacos. Reheat any leftovers in the microwave or on the stovetop.