Recently my sister Pam reminded our family of a delicious Puerto Rican recipe that our grandmother used to make when we were kids. I had totally forgotten about it because it was a meal that Grandma made less often, but the reminder from Pam triggered the firing of dusty neuron pathways in my head and BAM! A memory emerged of this incredible, savory delight called Carne Mechada. Unfortunately, none of us remembered precisely how it was made. So I did a little research on the inter-webs and found a bunch of recipes. Some were completely different from the way Grandma Rosario made it. Apparently, this is a big Venezuelan favorite, but they serve the meat shredded. Grandma served hers sliced about a half inch thick. There is a Puerto Rican Carne Mechada recipe, but it uses a lot of cilantro, which I am not a fan of. I put together this recipe in an effort to more closely reproduce the rich and savory flavor of Grandma’s recipe.
You can serve this with rice and beans (of course). I chose to cook the Cuban black beans for a change from the standard Kidney beans I usually make with my Puerto Rican food. I’m so glad I did! The black beans are a perfect pairing for this meal. I will post a recipe for making the Cuban beans at some point. WOW, was that delicious!
Note: that you will be stuffing and marinating the meat. You should prepare the meat in advance so that you can marinate it for a few hours before cooking.
For this recipe you are going to use a technique call “braising“. For this recipe you will place the meat in an oven-safe covered pot and cook it in a braising liquid which provides steam to cook, but also intense flavor for the meat. I have an awesome enamel finished cast iron, Dutch oven made by Lodge that I purchased for a discount on Amazon because it had “cosmetic defects” (AKA chips in the finish). This type of pot is incredible because it radiates the heat incredibly well inside the pot. But you can use any oven-save covered pot or Dutch oven. You want the lid to fit well so not too much steam escapes.
- 3-5 pound rump roast of beef
- 5 cloves of garlic, pealed and mashed
- 1 Tbsp of oregano (maybe a little more…. I wing it)
- 2 tsp of salt (and a little more to taste)
- 1 green pepper finely diced
- 1 large onion finely diced – save half for the stuffing and half to be used in the pot.
- 8 oz of Chorizo sausage with the skin removed (get the “uncured” variety)
- 1 ham steak cut in small cubes
- 1 Bay leaf
- 3 – Tbsp of tomato sauce
- 2 – Tbsp of cider vinegar (Yes, Yvonne! It HAS to be cider vinegar! 🙄)
- 10 or so Manzanilla Olives (these are the green olives stuffed with roasted red peppers)
- 3 – Tbsp vegetable oil (don’t use olive oil because it will burn)
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 1 cup water (or beef broth)
- In a mortar and pestle (AKA “el pilon”), mash the garlic with salt.
- Add oregano and mash together.
- Add cider vinegar and mix. Set aside.
- Sauté green pepper and half the diced onion until soft. Place in bowl.
- Add mashed garlic/vinegar mix, diced ham and olives to peppers and onion and mix together. Set aside.
- Take the rump roast and carefully cut a whole through the center. A sharp, narrow, long knife works best. You may need to cut two directions creating a cross pattern. Work from both ends to cut just enough to create a cavity in which to stuff as much as possible from the bowl of peppers, onions, etc. Be careful not to cut too much or to cut through to the edge of the meat. (If you accidentally do that, you can tie it back together with cooking twine.)
- Stuff the cavity in the meat as tightly as you can with the stuffing mix. Just keep cramming it in there until you just can’t fit any more.
- Slather some of the stuffing mix on the outside of the meat too.
- Let the meat marinade for several hours if possible, BUT you can cook it right away if you didn’t leave enough time.
Let’s get this party started!
- Preheat oven to 325 F.
- In your Dutch oven (or whatever pot you are using) add oil and place on medium high heat.
- Once at temperature, brown the roast on all sides and then remove meat from the pot.
- Place the Chorizo sausage in the pot and brown it until it releases its color and flavor. Break it up with a spoon to ensure it is ground up well. Remove the Chorizo from the pot and set aside.
- Add the second half of the diced onion to the pot and sauté until slightly caramelized (brownish but not burned).
- Add red wine to deglaze the pot and stir to mix in all of the meat drippings and onion.
- Add 1 Bay leaf, tomato sauce, browned Chorizo sausage, any leftover stuffing, and 1 cup of water or beef broth to the pot and stir.
- Now add the meat back to the pot. Spoon some of the liquid over the top of the meat to give it a little bath in the deliciousness!
- Put the lid on the pot and place the pot in the oven. Occasionally open the pot and spoon liquid over the meat and then return back to the oven. Total cooking time is about 3 hours depending on the size of the roast.
- Check meat. It should be very tender, but not falling apart. Once cooked, take the pot out of the oven, take the lid off and let stand for 30 minutes. Remove the meat and slice in 1/2″ slices. Place the slices back in the pot and spoon braising liquid over them. Now, my cousin Yvonne had a great idea. She suggests that I cook the meat a little longer in the braising liquid in the pot. Great idea! I’m definitely going to do that next time.
Serve with rice and beans and tostones (platonos). ENJOY!