Beef Mechado – A Filipino Dish Done Scott’s Way
Scott Mindeaux, Editor
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So I attempted a version of Beef Mechado. A co-worker had emailed me saying that she has eaten Beef Mechado and that it is one of her favorite dishes. The problem she had was getting the meat tender and achieving the right taste. There are quite a few recipes out on the internet and a couple of different versions.
So, to transform this Filipino dish, I changed a few things up in this Beef Mechado. My mom made this dish often. She usually did it in under an hour and the meat was always too tough and we had to chew…alot!
Here is the basic recipe:
2 lbs. Chuck roast (cut into 2″ cubes)
6 Cloves garlic (chopped)
2 Medium onions (sliced)
1 Large red bell pepper (half chopped and half cube sliced)
1 Large green bell pepper (thinly sliced)
1 Medium can of stewed tomatoes
3 Coined sized pieces of Ginger
4 Tbls White Vinegar
2 Bay Leaves
1/3 Soy Sauce (I prefer Light Soy)
2 cups of beef broth (chicken works too in a pinch)
4 Medium potatoes (peeled and cut into roughly 2″ cubes)
Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper
So let’s talk about the type of meat. Most of the recipes I have seen online call for just “beef”. For my test, I used a thick chuck steak. The one I got at the market was easily 2″ thick. Trim any fat from the meat, then cut into 2″ cubes – salt and pepper VERY lightly. Meanwhile, prep your other ingredients. You’ll see that I crossed out the Ginger from the dish. It turns out that there was a flavor in my experiment last nite that wasn’t bad, but I couldn’t identify it. This dish is VERY similar to a Chicken Afritada dish I made a few weeks ago. Two main differences? Ginger and vinegar. I’m going to say to omit both as it really doesn’t need it in my opinion. The ginger and vinegar add a tanginess that I, personally, didn’t care for.
Slice the onions and chop your garlic and have your 2 cups of broth ready. If you don’t have beef stock, chicken stock works great. Place the oil in a pot and once the oil is “shimmering” brown the beef pieces in the oil. The goal isn’t to cook the beef, just to get some color on them.
Don’t overcrowd the beef or you won’t get a good sear on them. Do the beef in batches if needed. Overcrowding the pan won’t get you the color you want, it will bring the temperature of the pt down and you’ll steam your meat.
After you are done browning the meat, set aside and add the onions and garlic and quickly sauté the vegetables. See all those brown bits at the bottom? That’s good stuff. We’re going to deglaze the pan and get all those brown bits off the bottom of the pan with 2 cups of stock. Using a wooden spoon, those bits will come right up once the stock is added. Add your soy sauce and bay leaves. Now add the beef back to the pot and over med-low heat, simmer for about 40 minutes, covered.
While that is simmering, peel your potatoes and cut your bell peppers into thin strips. Cut the potatoes into roughly 2″ cubes. After about 40 minutes of simmering, add one small can of Tomato Paste and 1 can of stewed tomatoes. Make sure the tomatoes are pure and don’t have any added ingredients like basil.
Mix and let simmer for about 10 minutes. Taste. Adjust seasonings as needed. [NOTE: I added a tablespoon of sugar to help cut down on the acidity of the tomatoes - this is optional]. After ten minutes add the potatoes and bell peppers and mix. Make sure the potatoes are down in the sauce.
Cook until the potatoes are fully cooked. Once cooked, take about 1/4 of the potatoes and smash them in to the sauce. This will help thicken the sauce. Check the meat, it should be very tender at this point. If not, continue to simmer over low heat until they are tender.
Once done, serve over fresh rice!