This Filipino Beef Stew called Beef Mechado is cooked low and slow on the stovetop using tomato sauce as the base. It is simmered with vegetables like potatoes, carrots, and bell peppers. This hearty and delicious dish will be your go-to whenever you are craving comfort food. And at 439 calories per serving, this recipe is healthy and kid-approved too! Oh, and did I mention that it is also a One-Pot Meal?! I just did!
While most stews are ideal for cooler days and nights, this delicious Filipino beef stew can be enjoyed any time of year, even in the summer, when you have an abundant crop of tomatoes. So rather than using canned tomato sauce as your base for this dish, using fresh tomatoes from your garden would be the epitome of freshness for this Beef Mechado recipe!
- What is it and why is it called Mechado?
- Is Beef Mechado Healthy?
- What Kind of Meat Can Be Used to Make Mechado?
- What is the Difference Between Afritada, Caldereta, and Mechado?
- What Do I Need to Make This Recipe?
- How to Cook the Perfect Beef Mechado
- How to Make Mechado Gluten-free or Vegetarian
- Variations to this Dish
- What Cooking Equipment Do I Need?
- How to Store Any Left-over Beef Mechado
- Top tip
- Food safety
- Frequently Asked Questions About Beef Mechado
- Other Beef Recipes You May Like
- 📖 Recipe Card
- 💬 Reviews
What is it and why is it called Mechado?
Beef Mechado has been adapted from a Spanish culinary practice where pork fat is used to thread through thick cuts of inexpensive beef (like beef chuck) to provide both succulence and flavor to the finished dish. Thus the threading of fat with the meat gives the meaning of "mechado" wherein "mecha" means to wick or fuse in Spanish.
And just a bit of history, the Philippines was a Spanish colony from 1521 to 1898. The Spaniards brought ingredients and labor-intensive cooking methods that the Filipinos have adapted and modified through time. Mechado is one of the many Spanish-influenced dishes I will be sharing with you, so please subscribe to my newsletter so you do not miss any new recipes.
Is Beef Mechado Healthy?
Now that you know the origin of this dish, the recipe for Mechado that I have for you is healthy yet doesn't sacrifice flavor.
This Beef Mechado recipe is healthy because:
- The meat is simmered and not fried and no lard is used. Some of the recipes suggest that you fry the beef first. I omitted that to cut down on fat and trust me, by simmering the beef low and slow, you will get every juicy and tender bite and the flavor is soooo succulent, you will want to have this is in your monthly meal plan.
- The potatoes are not fried. Again, some of the recipes suggest frying the potatoes first. You don't need to! Save some cooking time and skip it! Your heart and hips will thank you for it.
- The addition of vegetables to this dish makes it rich in nutrients and minerals. Check out the Healthline website for articles on benefits of vegetables added to this dish. Beef Mechado is also one of those dishes you reserve for special occasions because it's an A+ when it comes to presentation. Look at just how beautiful and colorful this dish is! So as long as you're serving your Beef Mechado in a nice serving platter and not on tin foil trays, you will get rave reviews for this dish!
What Kind of Meat Can Be Used to Make Mechado?
You can make Mechado using beef, pork, chicken, or a combination of any of these proteins.
What is the Difference Between Afritada, Caldereta, and Mechado?
While all three dishes use tomato (fresh or canned) as a base in cooking the meat, there are slight differences in the types of meat used, and the added ingredients and spices to complement the finished recipe.
Afritada - chicken or pork is the main protein with carrots, potatoes, green peas, and bell peppers as your vegetables.
Caldereta - beef, chicken, goat, lamb, pork can be any of your main protein selections with potatoes and bell peppers being your vegetables.
Mechado - beef, chicken, or pork is the main protein with carrots, potatoes, and bell peppers are your vegetables.
I will be adding those recipes here on my blog, so stay tuned and you can see for yourself......and taste the difference!
What Do I Need to Make This Recipe?
For the beef:
- Boneless sirloin cut of beef
- Water or beef broth or chicken stock
- Green bell pepper
- Red bell pepper
For the beef marinade:
- Tomato sauce
- Vinegar - any type works, I used Rice Wine Vinegar
- Cooking sherry
- Cinnamon - gives a sweet taste profile to the dish. However, if you're not keen on cinnamon, you may omit this ingredient.
- Coconut aminos or Tamari for gluten-free option or you can use Soy sauce if you do not have any gluten-intolerance
- Ground black pepper
- Bay leaves
See recipe card for quantities.
How to Cook the Perfect Beef Mechado
- STEP 1: Marinate the meat for 30 minutes (If you're pressed for time, you can skip this step. Afterward, cover and simmer the beef mixture for 30 minutes.
- STEP 2: Add water or beef broth, then lower the heat to medium low, and continue to simmer, covered for 1 ½ to 2 hours or until meat is tender.
- STEP 3: During the final 30 minutes, add carrots and potatoes to the meat. Cook until fork-tender.
- STEP 4: Add bell peppers and cover. The steam from the dish will cook the bell peppers.
How to Make Mechado Gluten-free or Vegetarian
To make this recipe fit specific diets here are my recommendations:
- Gluten-free - this recipe for Beef Mechado is gluten-free and uses coconut aminos. Tamari is also gluten-free and can be another option. However, if you do not have gluten sensitivity, you can use regular soy sauce instead.
- Rice - is very common in Filipino households and is usually eaten at every meal. Good news for you since rice is also gluten-free, you can enjoy this dish with a side of rice.
- Vegetarian - use plant-based veggie balls (instead of meat) to make this dish vegetarian. The sauce will make up for it!
Variations to this Dish
Do you want to give this recipe a try and want to add your own creativity to it? As you should! Here are some of my suggestions:
- Spicy - we love serving this with a side of Giardiniera or a splash of hot sauce!
- Leftovers - get some tortilla shells, top them with some leftover Mechado, sprinkle some shredded cheese, and pop it in the microwave!
- Kid-Friendly - cut up the beef and vegetables into bite-sized nibbles. #BestMomOrDadAward
What Cooking Equipment Do I Need?
I used my Dutch oven on the stovetop to cook this Beef Mechado. I just love how the aroma of the dish fills the house. For me, that's the smell of comfort delight.
If you want to cut your cooking time by more than half, use an Instant Pot or Pressure Cooker instead.
If you'd rather start the cooking process in the morning and leave it until you come home for dinner, consider using a Slow Cooker instead.
How to Store Any Left-over Beef Mechado
Leftovers should be promptly stored in a container with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.
Cook the Beef Mechado low and slow. Since you will not be using a lot of liquid in this recipe and will be simmering for an hour or two, be sure to periodically check the dish and stir frequently to keep it from scorching.
Listed below are a few health and safety tips. You can see more guidelines at USDA.gov.
- Cook to a minimum temperature of 145 °F (63 °C)
- Use dedicated knives and cutting board for meat and vegetables
- Wash hands after touching raw meat
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove
Frequently Asked Questions About Beef Mechado
Any cuts of beef that can be used for stewing are ideal for making Beef Mechado. Cuts like chuck, bone-in short rib, sirloin, oxtail, briskets, or shanks make delicious mechado!
Yes, Beef Mechado is ideal for making ahead of time since the sauce tastes even better the next day!
Yes! Any leftovers can be stored frozen in a sealed container or sealed plastic bag.
You don't have to add flour to thicken the Beef Mechado sauce. By cooking it low and slow (meaning low heat and simmer for up to two hours) the sauce thickens on its own. However, if you must, corn starch which is also gluten-free would be a good alternative to thicken the sauce for Mechado.
📖 Recipe Card
For the Meat Marinade
- 8 ounce Tomato Sauce
- 2 T Vinegar
- 2 T Cooking Sherry
- 1 t Salt
- ¼ t Ground Cinnamon
- ¼ cup Coconut Aminos
- ½ t Ground Black Pepper
- 2 dried Bay Leaves
- 4 cloves Garlic minced
- ¼ cup Onion sliced
For the Meat
- 2 pound Beef sirloin cut
- 1 cup Water you may use beef broth or chicken stock
- 2 medium Carrots peeled and cut on a bias ½" long
- 3 small Potatoes peeled or skin intact, halved
- ½ medium Green Bell Pepper cut 1" chunks
- ½ medium Red Bell Pepper cut 1" chunks
- Marinate the meat for 30 minutes (If you're pressed for time, this step is optional, and can totally be skipped altogether.) Cover and simmer the beef mixture for 30 minutes.
- Add water or beef broth, then lower the heat to medium-low, and continue to simmer, covered for 1 ½ to 2 hours or until meat is tender.
- During the final 30 minutes, add carrots and potatoes to the meat. Cook until fork-tender.
- Add bell peppers and cover. The steam from the dish will cook the bell peppers.
- Serve with steamed white rice.
- Other cuts of beef to use for Beef Mechado are: chuck, bone-in short rib, sirloin, oxtail, briskets or shanks make delicious mechado!
- Cook slow and low and be sure to periodically check the dish and stir frequently to keep it from scorching.
- For a gluten-free option: use coconut aminos or tamari sauce instead of soysauce.
- To make this dish spicy serve with Giardiniera or hot sauce on the side.