Carne mechada can mean different things in different parts of Latin America. In Venezuela, carne mechada is the shredded beef that is an essential component of the famous national dish, pabellón criollo. The verb mechar means to stuff, or in culinary use it can mean to lard something with bacon, which is why carne mechada can also describe a roast that has been stuffed with bacon and/or vegetables.
This carne mechada is prepared Chilean-style, which is very similar to traditional North American pot roast. If you want to stuff the roast with bacon and vegetables, you can poke large holes in the chuck roast and place some of the bacon, garlic, onion and other vegetables inside before cooking. I prefer to just use a little bacon grease to brown the meat and soften the vegetables, which seems easier.The cooking liquid is reserved and made into a rich gravy to ladle over the tender slices of beef. Serve carne mechada with roasted or mashed potatoes to soak up the gravy. Carne mechada is often used for sandwiches and empanadas in Chile, so if you end up with leftovers, use a marraqueta - the famous Chilean french bread roll - to make a delicious mechada sandwich.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours, 50 minutes
Yield: Serves 6-8 as a main dish.
- 3 slices bacon
- 1 3-pound chuck roast
- 2 medium onions
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 4 carrots
- 1 tablespoon aji panca paste (optional)
- 1 teaspoon garlic salt
- 1 red bell pepper
- 10-12 mushrooms
- 1 cup red wine
- 2 cups beef broth
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tablespoons corn starch
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Generously salt and pepper the roast on all sides. Peel and slice the onions into thin slices. Chop the garlic. Peel and slice the carrots crosswise into thin slices. Chop the bell pepper. Wash and slice the mushrooms.
- Place the bacon in a dutch oven or other heavy pot large enough to hold the roast. Brown the bacon over medium heat until crispy. Remove bacon from the pot, reserving the rendered fat in the pot.
- Turn the heat up to medium-high and brown the roast on all sides. Remove roast to a plate and set aside.
- Add vegetables to the pot along with the aji panca paste and 1 teaspoon garlic salt, and cook over low heat until onions are soft and fragrant, about 5-8 minutes.
- Add the beef back to the pot (place on top of the vegetables). Pour the red wine over the meat and simmer uncovered until most of the liquid has boiled away.
- Add the beef broth, cover, and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes. Turn the roast over and simmer for another hour, or until beef is very tender. Turn off the heat and left roast cool in the liquid for about 20 minutes.
- Remove meat to a plate or cutting board. Pour cooking liquid through a strainer, reserving liquid and discarding vegetables. Place cornstarch in a small bowl. Whisk 1/4 cup of the broth into the cornstarch until smooth. Set aside. Pour remaining reserved broth into a large skillet and bring to a simmer. Whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Simmer broth until reduced and thickened, about 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning and season with salt and pepper as needed.
- Slice roast across the grain into thin slices, and place slices into the gravy to heat them. Serve warm, with extra gravy on the side.