“La carne mechada is part of Venezuela’s national dish, pabellón, which consists of this shredded beef plus white rice, black beans, and fried ripe plantains. In my family home, pabellón was eaten at least once a week, and this is one of my abuelito‘s (grandpa’s) classics. I remember getting up to go to school and he would be at the kitchen table shredding the meat at 7 a.m. He would say ‘Mientas mas repose mejor’ – The longer it rests, the better’ – and it’s true. It’s best to leave it resting in the sauce for a couple of hours serving, that way you allow all the flavors to get to know each other, bond, and sing.” –Grace Ramirez
Reproduced with permission from La Latina, by Grace Ramirez. Published by Random House (NZ). Text copyright ©Grace Ramirez, 2015. Photographs copyright ©Garth Badger, 2015. Click here to purchase your own copy.
- 1 kilogram flank steak
- 1 onion, peeled, and quartered
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed
- 5 black peppercorns
- 2 bay leaves
For the sofrito
- 2 cups diced onion
- 1 leek, white part only, chopped
- 1 cup diced de-seeded red capsicum
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 2 cups peeled and chopped tomatoes, pulsed in the blender (you can use canned Italian plum tomatoes)
- approximately 1 cup poaching liquid
- 2 tablespoons tomato sauce or shaved panela (unrefined cane sugar)
- ground cumin to taste
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- Cut flank steak once lengthwise and once across. In a large stockpot, combine steak with onion, garlic, peppercorns, and bay leaves. Add enough cold water to cover the ingredients by 10 cm, and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderate heat for at least 2 hours, or until meat is easy to pull apart. Remove meat from liquid and set aside to cool, Strain liquid and reserve it to make soups, sauces, or black beans.
- While your beef is cooking, heat a large frying pan over a medium heat. Sweat onion, leek, and capsicum in oil until soft, add garlic and sweat for about 2 more minutes.
- Add tomato and bring to a simmer for about 15 minutes, adding 1/4 cup o the beef poaching liquid if the sauce is getting too dry.
- Pull or shred beef into long thin pieces and transfer to a bowl. fold shredded meat into sofrito along with 1/2 cup of poaching liquid. If you feel the sauce is too dry, add more poaching liquid until you get the desired consistency. Add tomato sauce or panela, cumin, Worcestershire sauce, and salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Allow the stew to rest for at least 30 minutes, then reheat and serve.
* The dish freezes very well, so I encourage making a large batch and freezing what you don’t eat on the day. Or save it for the next day to stuff arepas or for stuffing a tortilla to make a taco – just add some shredded lettuce crema agria, coriander, and hot sauce.