Recipe: Carne Mechada (Venezuelan Shredded/Pulled Beef)

7 Dec

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:

Ingredients to Boil the Steak

Ingredients to Boil the Steak

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

Ingredients for the Sofrito

Ingredients for the Sofrito

– 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.

Flank Steak / Falda

Flank Steak / Falda

Cut Steak into 4 Parts

Cut Steak into 4 Parts

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.

Cook for About 4 Hours

Cook for About 4 Hours

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.

Shred / Pull Beef

Shred / Pull Beef

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.

Sauté Ingredients for the Sofrito

Sauté Ingredients for the Sofrito

8. Add the beef to this sauté mixture and continue to sauté for about 3 minutes.

Add the Beef to the Sofrito

Add the Beef to the Sofrito

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.

Carne Mechada (Venezuelan Shredded/Pulled Beef)

Carne Mechada (Venezuelan Shredded/Pulled Beef)

*Makes 4 servings.

¡Buen Provecho!


9 Responses to “Recipe: Carne Mechada (Venezuelan Shredded/Pulled Beef)”

  1. iraims December 20, 2011 at 09:41 #

    the best explanation, thank you very much !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Hailey February 27, 2012 at 12:53 #

    looking forward to this so much

  3. maria November 16, 2012 at 02:39 #

    delisious dish…..we always use skirt steak( falda) …never tried with flank and pressure cooker cuts the cooking time way back..

    • mwolowicz January 21, 2013 at 10:58 #


      Thank you for your comment. Some people use skirt and others use flank. I think I may try skirt next time to see if there is any difference. I think skirt might just be a bit thinner to cook on the grill like a “parrilla”. I also need to try a new recipe to make it using either a pressure cooker or a crock pot.


  4. BillboTex April 17, 2013 at 21:16 #

    I recently bought an appliance called “Instant Pot LUX 60”. The instant Pot has the capability to sear meat, saute veggies, pressure cooker, slow cook, rice cooker, steamer, and warmer – ALL IN THE 6 liter STAINLESS inner pot.
    This recipe looks perfect for the Instant Pot.
    For example I can sear the steak & pressure cook for 40 minutes, add the veggies, then slow cook for another 30 minutes, all in the same stainless inner pot.

    • mwolowicz April 18, 2013 at 06:24 #


      Thank you for your comment. I have been thinking about creating a second version for the beef. It takes to long to cook, and perhaps it would make a great slow cooker. Let me know how it goes if you are able to make it using your appliance.


  5. Julie April 2, 2014 at 19:23 #

    Reblogged this on Vacation In My Mind and commented:
    Destination Venezuela! This is just one of the components of Pabellon Criollo, which, according to my favorite tennis coach, is the “national comfort food” of Venezuela. Can’t wait to try it.


  1. Recipe: Pabellón Criollo « Venezuelan Cooking - December 14, 2011

    […] Carne Mechada (Venezuelan Shredded/Pulled Beef) – Caraotas Negras (Venezuelan Black Beans) – Arroz Blanco (Venezuelan White Rice) – Tajadas […]

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