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. 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!
This delicious Filipino beef stew can be enjoyed any time of year and was inspired by another Filipino-style beef stew called Beef Caldereta. Be sure to check out that recipe here on my blog.
The History of Beef Mechado
Mechado has deep roots in Spanish cuisine, as it was introduced to the Philippines during the colonial era. The word "Mechado" actually comes from the Spanish word "mechar," which means to stuff or lace with pork fat. This cooking technique involves inserting strips of pork fat into beef to enhance its flavor and tenderness.
The dish itself has evolved over time, adapting to local tastes and ingredients. In traditional Filipino cooking, Beef Mechado typically features chunks of beef simmered in a flavorful tomato-based sauce enriched with soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, onions, and various spices like bay leaves and peppercorns.
One interesting aspect of this dish is its association with special occasions and family gatherings in Filipino culture. It's often served during fiestas or celebrations due to its hearty nature and ability to feed a crowd. The combination of tender beef soaked in savory sauce makes it an absolute crowd-pleaser that brings people together around the dining table.
The secret behind Beef Mechado's appeal lies not only in its taste but also in its versatility. While traditionally made with beef chuck or round cuts, you can find variations made with different proteins such as chicken or even fish – showcasing how adaptable this recipe can be.
Throughout generations, families have passed down their own versions of Mechado recipes – each one unique yet equally delicious. Some might add potatoes or bell peppers for added texture and flavor; others may choose to garnish it with green peas or olives as a personal touch.
No matter how you prefer your Beef Mechado cooked, one thing remains constant: the comfort it brings when enjoyed alongside steamed rice or warm pandesal (Filipino bread rolls). It truly embodies Filipino ingenuity and love for hearty, flavorful dishes that bring people together.
So there you have it – a brief glimpse into the history and origin of Mechado. The next time you savor this delectable dish, remember the rich Spanish influence and Filipino creativity that went into its creation. Enjoy your meal and happy cooking!
For the beef:
- Chunks of Beef: Boneless sirloin cut of beef
- Water or beef broth or chicken stock
- Golden or Red Potatoes
- Green bell peppers
- Red bell peppers
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 a gluten-free option or you can use Soy sauce if you do not have any gluten-intolerance
- Ground black pepper
- Bay leaf
- Large Onion
See the recipe card for the exact quantities of ingredients needed to make mechado.
How to Cook
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.
See the recipe card below to learn how to make beef mechado.
Cook the Beef Mechado low and slow using a Dutch oven. This is my favorite method of making mechado and I think it gives the best results since the sauce gets to thicken and all the flavors of the sauce, meat, vegetables, and spices really get to meld together giving you a very delicious and satisfying meal. Be sure to periodically check the dish and stir frequently to keep it from scorching.
Alternatively, you can also use an Instant Pot or Pressure Cooker. The pressure cooking method is the best option when you're in a hurry, as cooking the mechado this way will cut your cooking time in half.
On the other hand, if you want to set it and forget it, a Slow Cooker is a great option where you can set it to cook in the morning before you go to work or at night while you sleep.
Variations and Substitutions
Here are some variations and substitutions for the classic Filipino dish - Beef Mechado.
1. Chicken Mechado: If you're not a fan of beef or simply want to switch things up, why not try making Chicken Mechado instead? Just swap out the beef with bone-in chicken pieces like drumsticks or thighs. The result is equally delicious, with tender chicken simmered in a flavorful tomato-based sauce.
2. Pork Mechado: Another fantastic option to consider is Pork Mechado. This variation offers a different flavor profile while maintaining that hearty goodness. Replace the beef with chunks of pork shoulder or pork belly for an indulgent twist on this traditional dish.
3. Vegetarian Twist: Vegetarians rejoice! You can still enjoy the rich flavors of Mechado by substituting meat with tofu or seitan (wheat gluten). These protein-packed alternatives absorb all the savory goodness from the sauce, creating a delightful vegetarian version that will satisfy even the most discerning palates.
4. Seafood Surprise: If you're feeling adventurous, why not experiment with seafood? Swap out the beef for shrimp, squid rings, or chunks of fish fillets like salmon or cod. The succulent seafood melds beautifully with the tangy tomato sauce and adds an oceanic twist to this Filipino favorite.
5. Healthy Options: For those aiming for a lighter meal without compromising taste, consider using lean cuts like sirloin steak or eye of round instead of fattier cuts in your traditional Beef Mechado recipe. Additionally, load up on veggies such as carrots, bell peppers, and green peas to make it more wholesome and nutritious.
6. Sauce Substitutions: I got creative here and used coconut aminos, cooking sherry, and rice wine vinegar. Traditional Beef Mechado often calls for soy sauce and calamansi juice (Filipino lime). Also experiment with Worcestershire sauce, balsamic vinegar, or even a splash of red wine for an extra depth of flavor that will tantalize your taste buds.
Remember, cooking is all about having fun and adding your personal touch. Feel free to mix and match these variations and substitutions according to your preferences or dietary needs. Embrace the culinary explorer within you!
So, you've made a big batch of delicious Beef Mechado and now you're wondering how to store those mouthwatering leftovers. Well, fret not! We've got you covered with some handy tips on storing your Beef Mechado to keep it fresh and flavorful for later.
First things first, make sure you let your Beef Mechado cool down before transferring it to a storage container. This will help prevent any condensation buildup and maintain the quality of the dish.
Now, if you plan on enjoying your leftovers within a day or two, simply pop them into an airtight container and store them in the refrigerator. The beefy flavors will continue to meld together as they sit in the fridge, making each bite even more tasty!
But what if you want to savor that delectable Beef Mechado goodness for longer? Freezing is the way to go! Wrap individual portions tightly in
a sealed container or sealed plastic bag before placing them inside a freezer-safe bag or container. This extra layer of protection helps prevent freezer burn and keeps all those savory juices locked in.
When it's time to defrost your frozen Beef Mechado, transfer it from the freezer to the refrigerator overnight. This gradual thawing process ensures that your dish retains its texture and taste without compromising its quality.
Now here's an extra tip: If you find yourself having frequent cravings for this lip-smacking meal (which we totally understand!), consider dividing your leftover Beef Mechado into smaller portions before freezing. That way, you can easily defrost only what you need each time.
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
Beef Mechado is a traditional Filipino dish made with tender beef chunks simmered in a flavorful tomato-based sauce. It's popularly served during special occasions or family gatherings.
Absolutely! While some prefer using beef chuck, you can also use other cuts like chuck, bone-in short rib, sirloin, oxtail, briskets, or shanks to make delicious mechado! Just ensure the meat is well-marbled for maximum tenderness.
Definitely! In fact, this dish tastes even better the next day when reheated as it allows the flavors to develop further. You can prepare it a day ahead and simply reheat it before serving.
Yes, there are vegetarian variations of Mechado where tofu or seitan are used as substitutes for beef. These versions still capture the essence of the original dish while catering to dietary preferences.
Cooking the mechado low and slow (meaning low heat and simmering for up to two hours) the sauce thickens on its own. If you feel that the sauce isn't thick enough to your liking you can make a slurry by mixing flour or cornstarch with water, then adding that to your dish.
Yes! Serve your beef mechado with a side of Giardiniera or a splash of hot sauce!
Aside from steamed white rice, Beef Mechado also goes well with garlic bread, cooked pasta, and mashed potatoes.
In conclusion, the Mechado recipe is a true gem in Filipino cuisine that will surely impress your taste buds and leave you craving for more. Its tantalizing combination of tender beef, rich sauce, and aromatic spices creates a delightful symphony of flavors that will transport you to the vibrant streets of Manila. Whether you're cooking for yourself or hosting a gathering with friends and family, this dish is guaranteed to be a hit. So why not give it a try? Whip up some Mechado tonight and let the flavors take you on an unforgettable culinary adventure. Happy cooking!
📖 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.