You know those dishes so ingrained into local culinary culture that everyone will swear that their own recipe is the right one, such as paella in Spain or pumpkin pie in the States? Well, here in Chile, one such dish is Carne Mechada, a piece of stewing beef stuffed with vegetables and slowly braised in liquid until it almost melts in your mouth. We’re talking serious comfort food.
Well, this is the way I make it.
1 kilo of beef (any braising cut)
1 large onion, diced
Half a red pepper, diced
5 cloves of garlic, sliced
2 carrots, cut lengthways into thick sticks
2 kilos of tomatoes, skinned and chopped.
Lots of fresh Mediterranean herbs, whatever you have to hand.
Salt and pepper to taste.
- First use a large, sharp knife to make holes in the meat.
- Stuff these holes with the carrot and garlic.
- Heat some olive oil in a large saucepan.
- Cook the onion until translucent.
- Remove and put to one side.
- Turn up the heat, put the piece of meat into the pan and brown it on all sides. Then add the fried onion, the red pepper, chopped tomatoes and herbs.
- Top up with water until the meat is covered with liquid.
- Put on the lid and leave to simmer over a low heat for an hour or so, checking every once in a while.
- When the meat is cooked through, remove the lid and continue to simmer. The meat will become really tender and the sauce thicker and more concentrated.
- When the sauce has reduced and thickened or you’ve run out of patience, season to taste.
- Remove the meat from the pot, slice it, then return the slices to the hot sauce.
- Serve with pasta.
Carne mechada is even better one or two days after it is cooked.
This dish pairs beautifully with any characterful, fruity Chilean red wine, especially ones with medium to high acidity, like Carignan. You could try Indomita Gran Reserva Carignan 2013. For more information about Chilean Carignan, check out my article Vigno: the renaissance of Chilean Carignan.