Carne Mechada is at the very heart of Venezuelan cuisine. It’s a perfect result of slow cooked shredded meat, cooked once again with aromatic and flavorful Venezuelan sofrito.
This pulled meat recipe is a real flavor bomb. Carne Mechada proudly represents the main and integral feature of their national dish – Pabellón Criollo, along with beans, rice and ripe plantains.
Plus, it’s their beloved topping or stuffing for arepas. Let us tell you all the tips and tricks to make this amazing, finger licking Venezuela shredded beef recipe.
Pulled meat is enjoyed all throughout Latin America, and parts of the Caribbean. Latin cuisine is renowned for its variety of shredded meat recipes, each unique to its country of origin. Here are some of our favorites:
- Cuban Ropa Vieja: Literally translated as “old clothes”, Ropa Vieja is a flavorful dish made from shredded beef in a sauce of tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, and spices.
- Puerto Rican Pernil: This is a slow-roasted marinated pork shoulder that is often the centerpiece of Christmas dinner.
- Cuban Mojo Pork: A garlic and citrus marinated dish that is outrageously good.
- Mexican Beef Birria: The star of the king of all tacos, Birria Tacos!
- Cuban Vaca Frita: First slow cooked, then fried to crispy deliciousness.
- Mexican Barbacoa Pork: Smoky and flavorful, this crockpot dish is so good.
- Mexican Carnitas: Like vaca frita, after slow cooking it is crisped up.
- Brazilian Carne Louca: Translating to “crazy meat,” this shredded beef dish is commonly served at parties and large gatherings.
We’ve absolutely loved and enjoyed cooking many of these recipes in our kitchen for you, and are now proud to present GypsyPlate’s version of Carne Mechada.
You Will Love this Venezuelan Shredded Beef Recipe, cos…
- It’s a Flavor Bomb: The slow cooked meat is shredded and then cooked with flavorful, aromatic sofrito with spices and seasonings, creating out of this world delicious meat.
- Versatility: Venezuelan Carne Mechada is a versatile dish. It can be served on its own, used as a filling in arepas, as part of the national dish Pabellón Criollo, or in empanadas.
- Great use of a tough cut of meat: The slow cooking method is ideal to turn any tough cut of meat into tender and flavorful.
- Culinary Adventure: Carne Mechada is a great introductory dish to explore Venezuelan cuisine.
What is Carne Mechada
Carne Mechada is a very iconic and traditional dish in Venezuelan cuisine. Every family has its own recipe, and people are passionate about how they make their own special shredded beef, and believe theirs is the best. You will see many versions all over the country.
Also called carne desmechada, the name comes from the Spanish verb “desmechar”, which means to pull apart.
Once cooked and shredded, the meat is cooked again in a sofrito to create a flavorful stew-like meat that is used in various ways. The origins of this iconic Venezuelan dish can be traced to the Spanish Canary Islands, where Ropa Vieja is from.
Carne Mechada is the star ingredient in Pabellón Criollo, a plate full of black beans, ripe plantains, and rice. It is is also used as the main filling for arepas, small round cornmeal cakes that are a staple in Venezuelan cuisine.
What Cut of Beef is Best for Carne Mechada
When preparing Carne Mechada, you want to select a cut of beef that is well-suited to long, slow cooking. The aim is to choose a cut that will become tender and easy to shred after being cooked for several hours.
Traditionally flank or skirt steak is used. It is leaner and tough, with lots of connective tissue and that gets super tender and flavorful after braising it for a long time.
Chuck roast could be also used for this recipe. Chuck Roast comes from the shoulder area of the cow and is known for its marbling and rich flavor.
It’s not traditional to use brisket, but it could work excellent as well.
Carne Mechada Ingredients
- Beef – Today we are going the traditional route and using flank steak.
- For braising steak – Onion, scallions, carrot, celery, garlic, beef broth.
- Cooking oil – We used olive oil, but you can use any of your choice.
- For sofrito – Onion, bell peppers (we used red and green), garlic, tomato, cilantro.
- Tomato sauce
- Seasonings and flavor enhancers – Oregano, cumin, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, salt.
Carne Mechada Recipe
1. Braise the beef: Cut the flank steak into 2-3 pieces and place it in a big soup pot, along with onion, carrot, celery, scallions, garlic and beef broth.
Bring it to a boil on high heat. Lower the heat to medium low and simmer for 2-3 hours, or or until the meat is fully cooked and tender.
Remove any foam that may float to the top, early in the cooking time. As the meat cooks, check the broth levels and add more if needed (the broth should always cover meat).
2. Shred the beef: Once the meat is tender and fully cooked, remove the steak from the water and let it cool slightly. Reserve the broth. Once cool enough to handle, shred the meat with two forks. Set aside.
3. Make Sofrito: Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan or skillet over medium high heat. Add the onion and bell peppers and sauté for 4-5 mins till they start to soften up a bit. Add in garlic and sauté for a minute. Add tomato and chopped cilantro, and cook for 5 minutes.
4. Add shredded meat and seasonings: Add the shredded meat and combine well.
Add in tomato sauce along with soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, oregano, cumin, salt and 2 cups of reserved broth. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes. You can add more or less broth, depending how saucy you want your carne mechada.
If you are serving carne mechada with rice and tostones, classic Venezuelan style, leave the meat on the saucier side.
If you’re using it to fill arepas, you will want to cook it a little more till most of the liquid has been cooked off, stirring often so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
Tips and Tricks for Best Venezuelan Shredded Beef
Creating a delicious Venezuelan Carne Mechada involves a combination of selecting the right ingredients, careful preparation, and patience. Here are some tips and tricks to help you make the best Carne Mechada:
- Choose the right cut: As we discussed earlier, a good cut for Carne Mechada is a tougher cut like flank steak, skirt steak, or chuck roast. These cuts have lots of connective tissue that breaks down during slow cooking, resulting in tender, flavorful meat.
- Make sure steak is always submerged in the broth: Add more broth if needed, as it cooks for 2-3 hours.
- Season well: Don’t skimp on the seasonings, this is meant to be a really flavorful dish.
- Slow cook: Patience is key when making Carne Mechada. The meat should be cooked slowly over low heat to allow the tough fibers in the meat to break down and become tender. It’s well worth the wait.
- Reserve the beef broth: You can add more or less to your liking when you are cooking the shredded beef with sofrito and seasonings.
How to Serve Carne Mechada
Venezuelan Carne Mechada is a versatile dish that can be enjoyed in several ways. Here are some great ways to use this shredded beef:
- Pabellón Criollo: Considered the national dish of Venezuela, Pabellón Criollo consists of Carne Mechada served alongside black beans, white rice, and slices of fried ripe plantains. This combination of flavors compliments very well together.
- Arepas Filling: Carne Mechada can be used as a hearty filling for these versatile bread pockets. In our next post, we’ll be showing you how to make your own Homemade Arepas.
- Empanada Filling: Similar to arepas, Carne Mechada can also be used as a filling for empanadas.
- Tacos or Burritos: Although not traditional in Venezuelan cuisine, you can use the shredded meat as a filling for tacos or burritos for a Latin fusion meal.
- Sandwiches: Another non-traditional option, but the tender shredded meat can make for a delicious sandwich filling. Try it with a crusty bread roll, some pickled vegetables, and a spicy sauce for a Venezuelan-inspired take on a pulled beef sandwich.
- On top of rice or pasta: Carne Mechada can be served over rice, or mixed into pasta for a simple, yet flavorful meal.
Leftover and storing
Refrigerating: Before storing, allow the Carne Mechada to cool completely. Once cooled, transfer the Carne Mechada to an airtight container and refrigerate for 3-4 days.
Freezing: To freeze, portion the meat into meal-sized servings in freezer-safe bags. This way, you can defrost only what you need at a given time. Be sure to squeeze out any excess air from the bags to prevent freezer burn. Properly stored, it can last up to 2-3 months in the freezer.
Reheating: Thaw it in the refrigerator overnight before reheating. When you’re ready to eat leftover Carne Mechada, you can reheat it in a saucepan over medium heat, adding a little broth or water if needed. Similarly you can reheat it in the microwave until heated through.
We thoroughly enjoyed this delicious Venezuelan Shredded beef over rice and with a side of tostones, and the next day munched happily in between soft arepas. Its always great to find new foods and presenting them all to you.
You will love these new Latin flavors. All you need is big chunk of some nice beef and you are ready to cook this flavor bomb… all the way from Venezuela!
Carne Mechada, on our Gypsy Plate… enjoy!
- 2lbs flank or skirt steak
- 1 small onion, cut into chunks
- 2 scallions
- 1 carrot, cut into big chunks
- 2 celery stalk, cut into chunks
- 2 garlic cloves
- 6-8 cups beef broth
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, diced small
- 1 green bell peeper, diced small
- 1 red bell pepper, diced small
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 large tomato, chopped
- 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
- 8oz tomato sauce
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 Tbsp oregano
- 1 tsp cumin
- salt to taste
- 1.5-2 cups reserved beef cooking broth
- Cut the flank steak into 2-3 pieces and place it in a big soup pot, along with onion, carrot, celery, scallions, garlic and beef broth.
- Bring it to a boil on high heat. Lower the heat to medium low and simmer for 2-3 hours, or or until the meat is fully cooked and tender. Remove any foam that may float to the top, early in the cooking time. As the meat cooks, check the broth levels and add more if needed (the broth should always cover meat).
- Once the meat is tender and fully cooked, remove the steak from the water and let it cool slightly. Reserve the broth. Once cool enough to handle, shred the meat with two forks. Set aside.
- Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan or skillet over medium high heat. Add the onion and bell peppers and sauté for 4-5 mins till they start to soften up a bit. Add in garlic and sauté for a minute. Add tomato and chopped cilantro, and cook for 5 minutes.
- Add the shredded meat and combine well. Add in tomato sauce along with soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, oregano, cumin, salt and 2 cups of reserved broth. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes. You can add more or less broth, depending how saucy you want your carne mechada.
Welcome to GypsyPlate! I'm Alpana, former wordwide tour manager and professional caterer, now full time blogger. I love exploring cuisines from around the world, and my recipes have been featured on sites such as MSN, Parade, Brit + Co, CNET and AOL. You can explore my entire collection of sortable recipes in my Recipe Index or learn more about me here.
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