Beef Mechado is a Filipino-style tomato-braised beef stew. This Spanish-influenced dish is slowly cooked over a long period to make the meat tender, juicy, and flavorful that melts in your mouth. This classic Filipino stew is hearty and perfect for family dinners or special occasions.
The traditional version of beef mechado uses a Spanish culinary method of threading strips of pork back-fat through thick cuts of inexpensive beef to provide tasty flavor. They are then quickly browned on all sides in hot oil and then simmer in tomato sauce until the meat turns tender and juicy.
Just like most meat dishes, the fattier parts are, the better and testier. As the larded beef pieces simmer, the threaded fat strips melt and add more flavor and tenderness.
To make sure that the meat is tender and flavorful, beef mechado should slowly simmer in a tangy tomato-based sauce. It also includes chunks of potatoes, carrots, bell pepper, and celery to complete this hearty stew.
- Beef chuck - Chuck roast, top or bottom round or brisket are great options. Sliced in 1-inch cubes.
- Garlic, onions, and bay leaves - For aroma and depth flavor.
- Fresh or canned tomatoes and tomato paste - To simmer and tenderize the meat. This beef mechado recipe is without tomato sauce since I am using a lot of fresh tomatoes and some tomato paste.
- Vegetables - Potatoes, carrots, bell peppers, and celery to add nutrients and vibrant color to our beef mechado.
- Calamansi or lemon - It tenderizes the meat and adds a tangy flavor that balanced the flavor of this dish.
Prepare all your ingredients for beef mechado or Filipino beef stew by slicing the meat, and washing and chopping the vegetables. I like to cut my beef in 1-2 inches cube sizes. For the vegetables, cube sizes of the same sizes are my favorite way to chop them. Check the photo above for example.
- In a pot, heat cooking oil over medium to high heat and sear all sides of the meat until golden browned. Take them out and set them aside.
- In the same pot saute your garlic and onion until aromatic.
- Add your tomatoes and cook until they soften for about 5 minutes on medium heat.
- Add back your meat, tomato paste, soy sauce, lemon juice, bay leaves, black pepper, and water or bone broth. Simmer in low heat until the meat is tender for about 1 hour. Check from time to time to see if you need to add water. If it is dry, add about ½ cup or more if you prefer saucy mechado.
- Add carrots, potatoes, and celery and cook until they are softened.
- Lastly, add your bell peppers and cook for about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat. Ready to serve with rice.
Question and Answer
It is from the Spanish word mecha, which means "wick" because of the way the beef's lard resembles a candle.
All of the above are very similar based on the main ingredients such as onion, garlic, and tomatoes.
Afritada uses chicken, pork, or beef simmered in fresh or canned tomato sauce.
Caldereta usually is goat meat with olives, liver spread, and cheese for extra creaminess and thickness of the sauce.
Menudo is typically pork and liver cut in smaller sizes. Some additional ingredients are hotdogs, peas, and raisins for extra sweetness.
Mechado uses beef cut in cubes and requires a longer period of time to simmer for tenderness.
- Choosing fattier cuts of meat yields the best mechado because the lard from the meat helps to cook the meat to come chewy, tender, and flavorful.
- Using a sharp knife helps to cut your beef in a breeze. Freezing your meat before cutting for about 10 minutes makes it firm and easier to cut. Make sure to cut them in the same size to make sure they are evenly cooked, about 1-2 inches on each side.
- Slow cooking is the most important method for tender meat. Beef mechado that simmers for a period of time will come out tender and juicy.
- While the traditional beef mechado requires marinating the meat in soy sauce and calamansi, I find this extra step unnecessary since the beef cooks for a longer period of time and absorbs all the flavors while cooking at the same time.
Storage and reheating tips
- Storage: If you have leftover beef mechado, cool it down completely and transfer an air-tight glass container.
- Refrigerator: Store your dish in the fridge for up to a week. Mechado will taste better the next day since the meat absorbs the sauce.
- Freezer: This Filipino beef stew will stay good in an air-tight container in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- Reheating: Reheat this delicious mechado in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently until warmed through. Add some water if it's dry and season with salt and pepper accordingly. You can also use the microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
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Beef Mechado (Filipino Beef Stew) Recipe
- 1 pound beef chuck, 1 inch cube size
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 cups tomatoes fresh
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 stalks celery sliced thin
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 2 large bay leaves
- 1 cup potatoes cut into cubes
- 1 cup carrots cut into cubes
- ½ large red bell pepper cut into cubes
- 1-2 cups beef broth or water
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a skillet over medium-high heat with 2 tablespoons of oil, fry the meat on each side until slightly golden brown. Remove them from the skillet and set it aside.
- In the same skillet over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of oil and saute onion and garlic until aromatic. Add tomatoes and cook until softened.
- Add back the meat, tomato paste, soy sauce, lemon juice, water, and bay leaves. Simmer in low-medium heat for about an hour or until the meat is tender.
- Add the potatoes, carrots, and celery and cook for 5-10 minutes on medium heat or until they are softened. Add bell pepper, salt, and pepper, and cook for 3 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings accordingly. Ready to serve and enjoy!