Mechado, a Filipino-style beef stew, is another one of those dishes that’s good to prepare during the holidays or bring to the potluck.
Guess what? This dish was actually the star of our humble family pre-Christmas dinner tonight. I loved that the mechado is good to pair with both rice and bread, like a French baguette. Reason being the sauce was very savory. What sets this mechado apart is that it only used fresh tomatoes crushed by hand, and not the commercial tomato sauce variety.To balance the acidity, a little ‘panutsa’ was added. Note: panutsa is a lump of sugar shaped like a disk usually found in the local wet markets.
Using fresh tomatoes is part of an heirloom recipe, or how families cooked mechado in the olden days when commercial sauces weren’t yet available. I got this recipe from The Maya Kitchen when the Reyes women of the famous Aristocrat restaurant did a cooking demo in the middle part of this year. The adobo queen Nancy Reyes-Lumen demonstrated Mechado ni Lola Asiang which is how Aristocrat matriarch Asiang Reyes prepared her mechado. This remains the restaurant’s well-loved bestseller up to now.
How to prepare the mechado –
You need the following ingredients:
1 kilo kamto (beef flank), cubed (but I used kaldereta cut)
1 tablespoon each of patis, toyo and vinegar
1 small pack achuete powder
1 1?2 kilo shallots, chopped
3 kilos or more of over ripe tomatoes, seeded
500 grams garlic, minced
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 finger panocha
Only if needed (depending on how much fat is in the beef):
1-2 cups beef or chicken broth
olive oil, as much as needed
1. Marinate the beef in patis, toyo and vinegar overnight, or at least four hours to let the flavors seep in.
2. Heat achuete powder in olive oil until it becomes orange in color. Alternatively, you may use achuete seeds but be sure to discard the seeds when color is rendered. Sear the beef in the oil until it gains some color
3. In another pan, heat olive oil and achuete powder. Sauté the shallots until very soft.
4. Begin crushing the ripe tomatoes by hand to release its juices.
5. Add the tomatoes to the shallots and cook until it’s almost like paste and the skins curl. Next, add the garlic, tomato paste, beef and the juices.
6. Cook the mixture on high until boiling, and then use the smallest flame possible. Cover the pan and let simmer until beef is very tender, about 1-2 hours
7. Season the mechado with salt, pepper, and panutsa. Add beef broth if the mixture turns a bit dry.
While the recipe called for 1 1/2 kilos shallots or onions, 3 kilos tomatoes and 500 grams garlic, I didn’t use this much (maybe just half of the required amount), and still got good results.I loved this dish! 🙂