Venezuelan Carne Mechada, Carne Esmechada, or Carne Desmechada, is what you know as shredded or pulled beef. Some people call it “Ropa Vieja”, which literally translates to “Old Clothes”. Some others call it “Vaca Frita”, which literally translates to “Fried Cow”. But we simply call it Carne Mechada, which literally translates to Shredded or Pulled Beef. This is the main component in the most traditional Venezuelan dish, the Pabellón Criollo. However, Carne Mechada is also used to stuff arepas, empanadas, pastelitos, and even Cachapas.
What you need:
To boil the beef
- 2 lbs. Flank Steak
- 8 Cups of Water (or enough to cover the beef)
- Salt (to taste)
- 1 Stick Green Onion
- 1 Peppermint or Spearmint Leaf
- 1 or 2 Sprigs of Parsley
- 1 or 2 Sticks of Celery
- ½ Onion
- ½ Red Bell Pepper
- 3 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
- 1 ½ Onions
- 1 ½ Bell Peppers
- 1 Garlic Clove
- 3 ½ “Ajíes Dulces” (Sweet Habanero or Yellow Lantern Chili Pepper)
- 2 Tomatoes
- ½ Teaspoon Pepper
- 1 or 2 Sprigs of Cilantro
- 1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce
1. Cut the Flank Steak in 2 or 4 pieces so they fit in your pot.
2. In a large enough pot, place the Flank Steak and cover with enough water.
3. Add the salt, green onion, peppermint, parsley, celery, onion and bell pepper.
4. Cover and cook for about 4 hours at medium heat until the steak softens.
5. Remove from heat, take the steak out of the pot, place in a baking sheet and let it cool for a little bit (You can use the remaining beef stock for other preparations).
6. Once the beef is cool enough to handle, start shredding or pulling it. Be sure to pick out the fat and hard parts of the beef at this point.
7. In a large enough pot, add the oil, and sauté the rest of the onion, the bell pepper the garlic and ajíes cut in Juliennes, for about 5 minutes.
8. Add the beef to this sauté mixture and continue to sauté for about 3 minutes.
9. Add the tomatoes, the pepper, the cilantro, and the soy sauce.
10. Taste everything to make sure you don’t need more salt or soy sauce.
11. Cook at low heat for about 15 minutes. You may also add a bit of the beef stock and cook at medium heat until the liquid is reduced.
*Makes 4 servings.