Shredded meat is one of the dishes with the most history in Latin America. Although the concept of shredded meat comes from Europe, it has been prepared in Venezuela for more than 70 years. Before the 1950s it was considered a weekend lunch that was generally accompanied with puree, but as the years went by, shredded meat began to appear in other preparations such as arepas, empanadas, and sandwiches, becoming a of the typical preparations in Venezuela.
It is a typical dish of Andalusian cuisine, although it also has its version in Latin America. It is a pork loin stew, also called Cabeada, which is cooked in its own fat. This gives it a very particular flavor that also allows it to remain and last for several days in the refrigerator without spoiling.
In Andalusia it is known as 'mechá meat', and its preparation includes several ingredients typical of the Mediterranean diet such as garlic, bay leaf, onion, pepper, wine or extra virgin olive oil. One of the advantages it presents is its versatility. Shredded meat can be used as a main dish, accompanied by fries and even for special occasions, something very common in Western Andalusia. But it also serves as a starter and even as an accompaniment or garnish.
The term “Mechada” is not a recipe but a culinary technique to give flavor to a rather lean piece, in Venezuela we call it “Falda”. This technique consists of boiling the brisket with onion cubes to give flavor to the broth, letting it boil until it softens. Then I leave you the recipe.
Not only in Venezuela, in other South American countries, such as Colombia and Ecuador, they also have their version of shredded meat. Although the term takes on another meaning in this part of the world. However, its purpose is similar to the Andalusian one, since it basically consists of looking for non-invasive alternatives to meat that fit into different culinary forms.
One of the most common dishes with shredded meat is our traditional pabellón criollo, which is served with white rice, black beans, tajadas (fried ripe banana), and white cheese, many also add a fried egg. Another very common dish in Colombia and Venezuela are shredded meat arepas, known as “peludas.” This name comes from the appearance of the hair of the shredded meat, and the string cheese with which it is served.
And that is where the origin of the term “shredded meat” comes from in Latin America. The fact that the meat is presented in strips, or wicks, is what has led to it being called mechada.
Shredded meat is also widely used to fill the famous empanadas, it is a recipe full of many incredible aromas and flavors, and the best of all is that the preparation of this shredded meat is very simple. As for the type of meat, we recommend using the skirt, which is cooked in a pot with boiling water for approximately 1 hour (the time will depend on the weight of the meat), then it is allowed to cool and then shredded.
Some Latin American countries have adapted this recipe by replacing, for example, pork with beef. In Venezuela they include this food in typical dishes such as pabellón criollo or filling for arepas and empanadas. On the other hand, in Mexico they consume shredded meat in tacos and in Panama or Costa Rica they accompany it with salads and legumes.
This dish also has its adaptation to the island style. Shredded meat is one of the most common recipes in Canary Islands cuisine, along with ropa Vieja. The best thing about preparing shredded meat is that it is a very versatile dish that can be accompanied by other typical food from each territory, such as roasted French fries, beans or white rice.
In the Canary Islands, shredded meat is very popular, it is almost part of the island's recipes, and the Canary Islands and Venezuela are very close, to the point that Venezuela is called the eighth island. There are very strong family ties between this country and the islands, since the time when so many Spaniards emigrated to America to make their fortune.
Ingredients for a delicious shredded meat
- 1 kg skirt beef
- 1 large onion
- 2 sweet peppers
- 1/2 paprika or red pepper
- small bunch of cilantro
- 1 teaspoon full marinade
- 4 cloves of garlic
- dried bay leaves
- 1 branch with stem of celery or celery Spain
- 1 tablespoon oil (of your preference)
- 1 small can of fried tomato
- English sauce
- Salt and pepper
Preparation of shredded meat
- Clean the meat, remove any traces of fat it may have.
- Cut the meat into small pieces that make cooking faster, without losing length.
- In a deep pot with a liter and a half of water, place the bay leaf, the adobo, the salt, the cilantro and the celery branch. The meat is also submerged, the water should cover it, cover the pot and put it on the stove over medium-high heat for half an hour. (Count the half hour once the water starts to boil).
- Reserve the broth obtained from cooking.
- Once the meat is soft, you should prick it with a fork easily.
- While the meat is still hot, take two forks and on a plate, fray the meat into threads of approximately 3 mm, following the direction of the meat's own fibers.
Preparation of the sofrito
- Chop the onion, sweet chili, peppers and garlic into cubes and crush it.
- In a hot frying pan, place the oil and all the cut vegetables to sauté, cook them over medium heat until the onion begins to become transparent. Booking.
The final touch
In the pot in which you cooked the meat, pour the liquid (already strained/sifted), add the sautéed vegetables and the shredded meat. Let the flavors mix and after 20 minutes over medium heat, the liquid should have reduced by 40%, it is time to adjust the flavors, salt and marinade.
You decide if you want the meat with broth or almost dry, the length of time it lasts on the heat until the liquid is completely reduced depends on your taste.