Mechadong Baka - Filipino Meat & Potato Stew
Made by stewing meat in a tangy tomato sauce with potatoes and carrots, mechadong baka, or beef mechado, is a popular dish in the Philippines. With better availability of ingredients, this dish has evolved over time and can also be found made with chicken, pork, or goat, but beef is the most traditional meat and a slow cooking method makes it irresistibly flavorful and juicy.
- 2 lbs of beef brisket, chuck or spare rib, cut into large chunks
- ¼ lb - ½ lb of pork fat cut into strips
- 3 tbsp. of cooking oil
- 4 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
- 1 large onion, chopped
- ¼ cup calamansi juice (if you are unable to find calamansi juice, you can substitute the same amount of apple cider vinegar)
- 2 cups of tomato sauce
- ½ cup soy sauce
- 2 cups beef stock
- 3 bay leaves
- 5 medium potatoes, quartered
- 1 medium sized carrot, cut into 1" chunks (optional)
- 2 red bell peppers, sliced (optional)
- ½ tsp. ground black peppercorns
- salt and pepper to taste
- Make a small incision into the center of each piece of beef and insert a piece of pork fat in the middle
- Heat cooking oil in a pan then sauté the onion until softened and transparent.
- Add the garlic and cook for 3 minutes, being careful not to burn it
- Add the beef to the pan and sauté until lightly browned, about 3 minutes
- Meanwhile, mix the tomato sauce, soy sauce, beef stock and calamansi juice (or vinegar) in a large stock pot or dutch oven and bring to a boil.
- When the beef is ready, add it in with the onion and garlic, bay leaves and pepper. Give everything a good stir and reduce to a simmer.
- Cover and continue to simmer everything over low heat until the beef is tender, approximately 1 hour, checking periodically to make sure there is still a good amount of liquid. If there is not enough, you can add stock in ½ cup increments as needed.
- Meanwhile, lightly fry the potatoes and carrots, set aside (optional)
- Once the beef is tender, add in the potatoes, carrots and bell pepper and cook for about 5 minutes until tender. If you did not already fry the potatoes and carrots, they will need more time to cook, closer to 20 minutes. In that case, refrain from adding the bell pepper until approximately 5 minutes of cooking remain. Stir occasionally to help the potato starches thicken the sauce.
- Check everything for tenderness and, once ready, season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve hot with steamed white rice.
Some recipes call for up to 1 cup of soy sauce. As soy sauce varies in salinity, we recommend using ½ cup and adding more to taste if necessary. In the past, it was difficult for families to obtain nice cuts of beef so they studded the beef in this dish with pork fat to give it more flavor and prevent it from drying out over long cooking times. If you are using a cut of beef that is already fatty and tender, you can omit the use of pork fat.