Carne Mechada (Puerto Rican Pot Roast)



Disclosure: OK,  I didn’t even know how I would  accurately translate the title of this dish from Spanish to English other than with the name I gave it.  Seriously, it took me so long to think what I should call it, I nearly didn’t post it.
I do know that any Puerto Rican will know what this dish is because they’ve had it at one point in time of their life.

Pot roast is a dish enjoyed by many Hispanic people.  Which reminds me,

Second disclosure:  This is NOT a recipe that you will be able to whip up in 30 minutes or less.  Even if you use a pressure cooker, you will NOT be able to make this TODAY, unless you’re superwoman or just super intent on proving me wrong, in which case, you have issues — that can’t be addressed by me here, you need another type of professional help.  This is a recipe best left for a weekend. Why? Because I said so!  No just kidding (I’m really not)…because, it’s a roast that requires P-R-E-P-A-R-A-T-I-O-N. Believe me it’ll be totally worth it, just NOT TODAY, OK?

You will hear this dish called many things throughout Latin America.  Cubans call it boliche or carne para mechar, the Colombians may call it posta and/or bollo, in Venezuela it’s muchacho redondo.  For us–it’s just Carne Mechada.

When I was young, we used to have this dish quite often on Sundays (why you ask? Go back to read the Second disclosure 2 paragraphs up).  I can still remember the smell of it as it was cooking, wafting through the hallways of the projects–it was and still is one of my FAVORITE meals.  I especially loved the sauce of the meat and often times when there was no meat left, only juices, I would scrape the bottom of the white rice pot (pegaó), put the juice of the meat on it and eat it.  God! I still love that and I’ve been known to serve everyone their portion of white rice leaving my plate for last just so that I can then scrape the “pegaó” without disturbing the remaining white rice. 😉

Without further ado, here is the recipe for Carne Mechada estilo Puertorriqueño:


Yields about 8 servings
  • One 3 to 4 pound eye of round
  • 8 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1½ tsps. Kosher salt
  • ½ tsp. black peppercorns, whole
NOTE: You will be needing a mortar and pestle for this. You can use a food processor but you must finely grind the spices, especially the black peppercorns.
For the Wet Rub Marinade
  • 1 TBSP of Adobo or to taste
  • ½ TBSP of dried oregano
  • ⅓ cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 TBSPS. of white-wine vinegar
  • 2 leaves of culantro or 2 sprigs of cilantro, finely minced
  • ¼ lb. lean cured ham, washed and diced
  • ½ cup manzanilla or salad olives, chopped
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Whatever is left over after stuffing meat, will be used in the braising ingredients
Braising Ingredients
  • 2 tbsps. vegetable oil or olive oil (for covering the pan to braise meat)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 chorizo (red Spanish sausage, dried OPTIONAL), diced casing removed
  • 3 heaping tbsps. of tomato sauce
  • ⅓ cup of Basic Sofrito (recipe for ½ cup serving below or you can use Goya’s brand)
  • ⅔ cup of red wine or beef broth (amount is depending on how saucy you like it)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Leftover stuffing
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 3 to 4 small russet potatoes, peeled, washed and cut into quarters.
  1. Rinse meat under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels. Set aside.
Make Adobo:
  1. Place garlic cloves, salt and peppercorns in a mortar and pound until finely crushed.
For Wet Rub Marinade:
  1. Combine 1 TBSP of Adobo (or to taste) and add oregano, olive oil, vinegar and culantro or cilantro. Mix well and set aside.
For Preparation and Cooking of Meat:
  1. Make slits throughout roast and rub wet marinade into meat.
  2. Make an incision through the middle of the roast (use a knife to go right through to the other end of the roast and turn to break off any fibers inside the meat). Fill the middle of the roast with the ingredients listed under “Stuffing”. Set aside for 10 to 30 minutes up to one hour.
  3. Line a Dutch oven or deep skillet with oil and heat the oil over moderate high heat.
  4. Add chorizo and pan fry until chorizo releases it’s color. Remove and set chorizo aside then place the meat into the Dutch oven or deep skillet and sear the meat on all sides over medium-high heat.
  5. Lower heat and add to the Dutch oven or skillet, the chorizo and all the ingredients in the braising ingredients, except for the potatoes. Add salt and pepper to taste, if necessary.
  6. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 2 to 3 hours until meat is tender but not falling apart. Remove meat and set aside, cool, then slice meat on the bias.
  7. Return meat slices to the liquid then add in the potatoes. If necessary, add more beef broth or water. Cover and cook for 10 more minutes or until potatoes are tender.
Basic Sofrito:
½ medium yellow onion, diced
1 Green Pepper or Cubanelle, seeded and diced
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
2 aji dulce (sweet chili peppers PLEASE MAKE SURE IT’S NOT SCOTCH BONNETS OR JAMAICAN PEPPERS as they do look alike, you DO NOT want to make this mistake unless, of course, you like things FIERY HOT!)
3 recao leaves (if you can’t find these, triple the amount and use cilantro instead)
1 sprig of cilantro (if you are using the recao leaves)Combine all the ingredients in a blender or food processor. If you are using a blender, add some water or oil to process smoothly. This recipe will yield enough to use for ONE recipe (about ½ cup). You can make large batches and freeze and use as needed.Carne Mechada is typically served with white rice, stewed red kidney beans and a slice of avocado.
¡Buen Provecho!

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