When you ask Mr J what his most favourite dish is, he’ll only say one thing and one thing alone:
Each household, each mother, has their own unique mechado recipe. I have tasted quite a few variation of this dish but none of them, and I say with true conviction, could match my own mum’s mechado recipe. I do believe that she obtained the recipe from my grandmother from my dad’s side, who was a great cook of Spanish-inspired Filipino dishes.
Ah mechado. That beef casserole with succulent gravy beef, sweet root vegetables, savoury bay leaves, saltiness of the soy sauce, and the deep, rich tomato sauce. The whole dish alone screams Saturday night family dinner, and is a perfect meal on a cold, winter night. There’s a fair bit of preparation for this dish though in terms of cooking the meat – 2 to 2 ½ hours is required to tenderise the meat and make it that soft, shredded meat that almost dissolves in the sauce. I usually start cooking around 3pm or 3.30pm if I’m serving this dish for dinner… everything will be ready and cooked by the time everyone comes home from work at 6pm – starving and ready to fill their empty stomachs with this rich, hearty meal.
I have omitted a few ingredients from mum’s (and I suppose, grandma’s) original recipe. Gone are the bay leaves, and in with cheese and sugar. Some recipes will even call for chilli, but not mine: my mechado is sweet, salty, tangy, and according to countless people I’ve cooked this dish for…one of the best mechado they have tasted. I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but that was the consensus given to me, and that’s what I’ll believe. Indulge me for a few minutes, dear foodies.
Makes approximately 4-5 servings
1 kg gravy beef, cut into large chunks
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp fish sauce
3 medium sized potatoes, peeled & chopped into large chunks
1 large carrots or 2 medium sized carrots, peeled & chopped into large chunks
2/3 cup tomato sauce
1/3 cup tasty cheese
1 tbsp raw sugar
1 medium sized green capsicum
Salt & pepper to taste
- In a large pan, heat oil and sauté garlic until brown but not burnt. Add onions and tomatoes, and sauté until everything has softened,
- Add in fish sauce and the beef. Saute everything together and put on lid for a few minutes.
- Add soy sauce, salt and pepper. Stir to combine, and put on lid. Cook meat for approximately 2 to 2 ½ hours, depending on pan size, heat, and heat distribution. I like the meat really tender, almost shredded when cooked through. Ensure the pan doesn’t burn – add about ½ cup water every time the meat gets a bit dry. Don’t worry if you add too much water – it will evaporate really quickly during the 2 hour cooking time.
- Once meat is almost tender, add the potatoes and carrots. Put on lid and cook for another 10 minutes until the vegetables have softened.
- Add tomato sauce, tasty cheese, and raw sugar. Adjust the taste by adding salt and/or pepper.
- I prefer crunchy capsicums, so I put these last. Add capsicums once the root vegetables have softened and the taste adjusted, turn off heat, and put on lid. The steam will cook the capsicums but won’t make them soggy or soft.
Serve with rice and enjoy!