This braised shredded beef with tomatoes, onions and peppers is the main ingredient for Pabellón. It takes two days to prepare, so I cook large batches of Carne Mechada and freeze in packs of 350g. This is enough for 3 portions: two for lunch during the week, and one to share for brunch with Arepas over the weekend.
It is also a nice substitute for ‘Carnitas’ if you feel like having tacos for dinner. Especially when you don’t have time to prepare everything from scratch.
This recipe is my adaptation from Don Armando Scannonne’s Mi Cocina. His book contains a compilation of Caracas’ style recipes and is a key reference book on Venezuelan cookery.
- food processor or blender
- Dutch oven (optional, see notes)
- 1 kg brisket*
- 2 tbsp sunflower oil
- 1 tbsp worcestershire Sauce
- 150 g yellow onion grated or blended on a food processor
- 2 cloves garlic grated or blended on a food processor
- 3 tsp salt I use kosher or coarse sea salt
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- 125 ml sunflower oil
- 200 g yellow onion finely chopped
- 150 g red pepper finely chopped
- 400 g tomatoes (1 tin) skinned, deseeded and chopped
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 650 ml water
Day 1: Preparing the beef for shredding
- Remove any sinew and excess fat from the beef with a sharpened knife
- Blend all the marinade ingredients
- Rub the beef thoroughly with the onion paste
- Marinate the beef for 1 hour
- Pre-heat the oven in broil mode at 230°C (210° fan-assisted, Gas mark 8)
- Place the marinated beef in a deep pan
- Cook for 15 min per side, the beef should be brown (maillard reaction) on both sides
- Remove the pan from the oven
- Switch the oven to conventional cooking, setting the temperature at 150°C (130° fan-assisted, Gas mark 2)
- Transfer the beef and any juices to a cast-iron casserole dish (dutch oven)
- Add the 650ml water
- Place the casserole dish in the oven and cook for 3 hours
- Remove from the oven and try tearing chunks of beef with two forks, the beef should separate easily
- If it's still hard, place the beef back in the oven for 30 more minutes, or until it passes the tearing test described on the previous step
- Rest the beef in the juices overnight in a sealed container
Day 2: braising the beef
- Shred the beef into thin strips, the thinner the better. Keep the juices, you will need them later.
- Heat the 125 ml oil in the dutch oven at medium-high heat in the stove
- Add the 200 g yellow onions and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until slightly brown
- Add the 150 g red pepper and cook for 3 minutes
- Add the tomatoes and cook for minutes, stirring well to prevent the mixture from sticking to the bottom of the dutch oven
- Incorporate the shredded beef and mix well with a wooden spoon
- Cook for 3 min, still at medium-high heat
- Add the beef juices, and reduce the heat to low
- Soft-boil for 30 minutes and up to 1 hour (if you prefer the sauce to be less runny), stirring every 15 minutes.
*The original recipe calls for flank, a much leaner cut. I find brisket to be softer, thus easing the shredding process a lot more. Besides, the brisket’s natural fats add an extra layer of flavour.