Carne Mechada is a kinder, more easygoing relative of Ropa Vieja. Less ingredients equate less chopping and less active cooking time. I love this dish. Tender, shredded beef, sauteed red bell pepper and smoky paprika make my mouth water before sinking my teeth into the dish. I had some as stew last night with avocado, limes and Cuban black beans with rice but today, it's all about the empanadas. What is it about food that you can pick up that is so appealing?
To Make Carne Mechada:
1 lb flank steak, cut into 4 pieces
3 Vidalia diced onions
Enough beef broth to cover meat pieces
1 red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
4 cloves minced garlic
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon tomato paste or 2 diced tomatoes
Paprika, to taste
In large stew pot, add meat, beef broth and 1 diced onion (making sure broth covers meat). Bring to a simmer and let cook 2 hours at this heat.
Remove pieces of meat from the broth (reserve for use later) and let them cool on a plate. When cool enough to handle, shred the chunks into thin strips using your fingers or a fork (I like doing it with my hands, easier to remove fat, etc).
Heat up olive oil in a clean stew pot. Add bell pepper, onion and garlic. Let cook 5-7 minutes until translucent. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon paprika. Add tomato sauce and 1 cup reserved broth, let simmer about 15 minutes.
Add shredded beef and enough reserved broth to ensure the mixture is covered. Bring to a simmer, cover the pot and stir every 10 minutes or so to prevent the stew from sticking. The covered pot should just barely be boiling (to avoid drying out the meat). Cook an additional hour at this temperature.
Serve with rice, black beans, and a fried sweet plantain for pabellon criollo, Venezuela's national dish, by itself as a hearty stew, or in empanadas! You will love it any of these ways-it's just that delicious.