Kansas girl's carne mechada aka shredded beef
While I grew up in a community that had excellent Mexican food I had not tried many dishes from other Latin American countries. Well that changed when I started dating a Venezuelan. We didn't have any Venezuelan restaurants where we were living so he took me out for Cuban food. The next closest thing, and I loved it! Not too long after, his mom was visiting. She took me under her wing and taught this Kansas girl how to make the main element in the Venezuelan national dish. I should mention that she doesn't speak but a few words of English and I speak about six words of Spanish. Good news, cooking is a universal language!
Since my first apprenticeship lesson, I've done some minor tweaking to make the process a bit easier, but the flavor still delicious. I hope you enjoy! We are calling our new dishes Kanzuelan!
2-3 lb roast (I've cooked bigger, you just need to adjust the cooking time accordingly)
1/2 c water
2-2 1/2 c broth (use the juices created from your roast)
8 oz. tomato sauce
1 T worcestershire sauce
1 green bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
1/2 large yellow onion
1 T minced garlic
1 bay leaf
To speed up the process, I use an electric pressure cooker. I've found you get the same great result as roasting, boiling or slow cooking. Plus, it took me less than an hour to cook the roast! First start by selecting the pressure cooker to browning and sear the roast a few minutes on each side. Then switch the cooker to high pressure and add the 1/2 c water, salt and pepper. Seal up the lid and set the timer to 50 minutes. You don't have to add the water, but it helps to ensure you have enough broth for the second part of the recipe. After the timer goes off, carefully release the steam/pressure. Follow the instructions with your cooker to not burn yourself. Leave the lid off of the cooker and let it cool down a bit.
While it is cooling, gather your red and green bell peppers, onion and the garlic. Add everything into the food processor. Process until well blended created a colorful and flavorful liquid. Heat up large sauté or roasting pan to medium-high heat. Add the mixture to this pan, cook for 5-8 minutes. After this aromatic mixture is heated and softened, shred up the roast and add to the pan. Add the broth, worcestershire sauce, bay leaf and tomato sauce. Mix and cover. Cook on medium heat for 20-25 minutes until all the juices have been absorbed by the meat. Remove the bay leaf before serving.
The meat is delicious on it's own, or accompanied by black beans, rice and roasted plantains for the traditional Venezuelan style. We like to eat ours in a more casual Venezuelan setting by stuffing the meat into arepas. We make arepas with Harina PAN. Mix one part of the corn meal mixture to one part warm water. I like to use warm water. Add a sprinkle of salt. Make a ball with the dough and then carefully pat it flat. I like to make them about 1/2" thick. If the dough is cracking, you need to add a bit more water. Pan roast the arepas until golden brown.
As you can see in the picture you can take the carne mechada mixture and stuff the arepa. Of course I have to top it with cheese. It's also delicious with some sour cream or creme fresh.