Mechado (Filipino Beef Stew)

By Jeri Mobley-Arias
January 24, 2024 | Updated on January 24, 2024

Mechado is a tomato-based Filipino stew made with chunks of tender beef, onions, bell peppers, carrots, and potatoes. Serve this rich, hearty beef stew over a bed of white rice for a filling comfort meal.

If you want to try more Filipino comfort foods, check out Filipino Chicken Adobo, this Easy Filipino Beef Adobo, and Sinigang Recipe next.

a bowl of mechado served with jasmine rice

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Mechado takes beef and potatoes to new heights. This dish was a mainstay in our home and made a common appearance at parties and gatherings.

The stew simmers low and slow on the stovetop, so it’s the perfect weekend, gathering, or holiday dish. Given its cooking time, I’d call it a labor of love but it honestly doesn’t take much effort. And the aroma of sautéed onions, savory beef, and sweet tomatoes couldn’t be more enticing!

Why This Beef Mechado Recipe Works

  • Easy Learn how to cook beef stew Filipino style with this easy mechado recipe. Brown marinated beef then let it simmer with the other ingredients. Within 2 hours, dinner is on the table.
  • Tasty – This dish is an upgrade from traditional beef stew because as it’s a delicious treat for your taste buds, and as a Filipina, I favor this version over American beef stew. It’s got light sour, and tangy notes that make the flavor profile stand out from other recipes.
  • Great for Gatherings – Adults and kids love this popular Filipino stew so it’s a great option for a family dinner or celebration.
a bowl of Filipino beef stew over a bed of rice

Mechado Meaning

Mechado (also known as mechado baka) derives from the Spanish term “mechar,” which means to stuff. Mechar references a cooking technique involving stuffing pork fat into beef to enhance the flavor. Traditional mechado included lard. Although the recipe has evolved and there are many variations, the name stuck.

This recipe uses chuck roast, a marbled cut of beef with enough fat for flavor. Other recipes may add a strip of pork fat into the center of each beef cube. This version of the dish is the way my mom made it and does not call for the use of pork.

Filipino beef stew in a pot

Tools You’ll Need

Mechado Ingredients

The marinade is a great source of flavor for the beef. But it also contributes to broth later so hold onto it after the marinade.

Marinade

  • Grassfed beef chuck roast – This cut of beef is a flavorful, well-marbled cut of meat, known for its tenderness and rich taste. It’s ideal for slow-cooking methods like braising.
  • Lauriat soy sauce This adds a savory umami flavor so you can skip the salt. Use this specific soy sauce, which can be found at most Asian grocery stores.
  • Cloves garlic – Grate fresh garlic.
  • Fresh lemon juice – This adds a pop of acidity to the stew.
  • Freshly cracked black pepper – Fresh pepper adds a bold and aromatic spiciness.
  • Tabasco hot sauce – This zesty hot sauce contributes a tangy acidity, a moderate level of heat, and a subtle balance of salty and slightly sweet notes.
  • Avocado oil – Using oil as the marinade base adds moisture, and helps the other ingredients adhere to the meat.

Mechado Stew

  • Avocado oil – Use this for sautéing the veggies and browning the beef.
  • Yellow onion – This is the foundation of flavor. It adds sweetness and depth to the dish.
  • Cloves garlic – Chop fresh garlic.
  • Tomato sauce – Aside from the beef, this is your main ingredient so make it good! Use your favorite brand of tomato sauce to add body and richness to the stew.
  • Patis (fish sauce) – Added for umami and saltiness. I only use Rufina brand for this dish which can be found at most Asian grocery stores.
  • Medium bay leaves – This infuses the broth with a subtle herbal aroma and flavor.
  • Reserved marinade – Add that tangy, umami flavor right back.
  • Water – The liquid base for the broth.
  • Chicken stock – Beef stock may seem more useful here (and you can certainly use that instead) but using chicken balances the flavor beautifully. Use low sodium chicken stock as the marinade and fish sauce adds enough saltiness to the dish.
  • Red bell pepper – This pepper adds a mild, sweet flavor.
  • Gold potatoes – Peeled and cubed potatoes provide texture and absorb the rich flavors of the stew.
  • Carrots – This adds texture and nutrition. It also imparts a hint of sweetness to lighten up the deep savory flavors in the stew.
a bowl of raw chuck roast with seasoning applied, just before mixing

How To Cook Beef Mechado

This classic mechado recipe benefits from a delicious marinade.

  1. Marinate meat. Add all marinade ingredients to a medium bowl and mix to combine. Add meat and mix to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 1 hour to marinate.
marinated beef in a bowl

2. Brown meat. Heat a braiser over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the marinated (beef in an even layer) to the braiser, reserving as much marinade in the bowl as possible. Brown all sides of the meat, about 12-15 minutes. If your braiser or pot is not big enough, you may need to brown meat in batches.

browned marinated beef in a braiser

3. Sauté onions. Once meat is browned, add onions and lower heat to medium. Cook for 4 minutes then add garlic. Cook until garlic is fragrant, about 3 minutes.

white onions sautéeing in a braiser

4. Next, add fish sauce and cook for one minute, then add tomato sauce and cook for another minute. Add bay leaves, 1½ tablespoons of marinade, 1¾ cups water, and 2½ cups chicken stock, stirring to combine well. Bring the mixture to a boil then lower heat to medium and cover. Cook for 1 hour and 10 minutes, stirring every 10-15 minutes. If needed, add more chicken stock.

beef preparing to be boiled in braiser with bay leaves, water, and chicken stock

5. Add chopped red bell pepper. Cook for another 20 minutes. After 15 minutes, heat a medium skillet over high heat and ½ tablespoon oil. Once hot, add potatoes and carrots. Cook for 4 minutes then transfer to the stew. Stir to combine and continue to cook for another 15-20 minutes or until vegetables are cooked through and meat is fork tender.

a pot full of mechado

6. Serve with jasmine rice and enjoy!

a bowl of mechado with rice

Tips and Tricks

  • When browning the beef, do not overcrowd the pan. You want a nice crust to develop as it browns. Cook the beef in batches if your pan is too small.
  • Don’t throw away the leftover marinade when you brown the beef. Put it aside to add to your broth later.
  • Prepare your rice in the last 30 minutes of cooking so that the meal is ready as soon as the stew is done.
  • If the stew is too thin, take off the lid and let it simmer so it can thicken up. And if your broth is too thick, add more chicken stock.
  • This stew tastes even better the next day when the flavors have had the chance to meld.
  • Once cooled, store leftover mechado in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. This dish freezes well too. Store it in the freezer for up to 3 months and let it thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating. Reheat it over medium heat on the stovetop, stirring occasionally until it is warmed through.
mechado in a braiser

Variations

  • Beef – If you don’t want to use chuck roast, try another tender cut of marbled beef like short ribs, brisket, or oxtails.
  • Veggies – Want to deviate from carrots and potatoes? Try other vegetables like peas or olives.
  • Other Types of Mechado – Swap the beef for pork shoulder or bone-in chicken.

What’s the difference between Mechado, Kaldereta, and Afritada?

All three are Filipino tomato-based stews so at first glance, it may be hard to distinguish them. However, each dish has specific characteristics.

  • Mechado – This beef stew usually includes soy sauce, lemon or calamansi juice, potatoes, carrots, and bell peppers. The sauce is typically thick and flavorful.
  • Kaldereta – This versatile stew can be made with beef, goat, or chicken. The sauce includes liver paste, which gives it a unique richness. Sometimes peanut butter is used as an alternative to the liver sauce. Potatoes, bell peppers, and olives are common ingredients.
  • Afritada – You can use chicken, pork, or beef for this stew. It includes potatoes, carrots, bell peppers, and sometimes green peas. It has a slightly sweet and savory taste, often achieved by adding sugar or banana ketchup to the sauce.
braised chuck toast in a pot

Frequently Asked Questions

What does Mechado mean in English?

In English, “mechado” translates to “larded” or “stuffed.” It refers to the cooking technique of inserting thin strips of pork fat or lard into the beef.

What is Mechado made of?

Mechado is made with beef, tomato sauce, soy sauce, vinegar (in this case tabasco), lime juice, and vegetables like onions, carrots, potatoes, and bell peppers. Other ingredients are added to taste.

What is the famous stew in the Philippines?

The most popular Filipino stews are adobo, sinigang, and mechado.

What is the history of mechado?

Traditionally, mechado included lard as a way to salvage tough cuts of meat and make a more palatable meal. A literal translation of “mechado” is the term “wick.” This is probably because the larded beef resembled the wick of a candle.

mechado in a braiser

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a bowl of mechado served with jasmine rice

Mechado (Filipino Beef Stew)

Mechado is a tomato-based Filipino stew made with chunks of tender beef, onions, bell peppers, carrots, and potatoes. Serve this rich, hearty beef stew over a bed of white rice for a filling comfort meal.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 50 minutes
Servings 4 people
Author Jeri Mobley-Arias
Course Dinner
Cuisine Filipino

Equipment

  • 3.5 quart brasier
  • Mixing bowl
  • Medium Skillet

Ingredients

Marinade

  • 2 pounds grassfed beef chuck roast cut into 2 inch long, 1 inch thick piece
  • cup Lauriat soy sauce
  • 4 cloves garlic, grated
  • tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 4 dashes tobasco hot sauce
  • ½ tablespoon avocado oil

Mechado Stew

  • tablespoons avocado oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 8 ounces tomato sauce
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce, Rufina brand
  • 2 medium bay leaves
  • tablespoons reserved marinade
  • cups water
  • 2½ – 3¼ cups chicken broth, low sodium
  • 1 medium red bell pepper sliced into 1 inch pieces
  • 8 ounces gold potatoes, peeled, cubed in 1½ inch pieces
  • 8 ounces carrots, peeled, cut into 1½ inch pieces

Instructions

  • Marinate meat. Add all marinade ingredients to a medium bowl and mix to combine. Add meat and mix to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 1 hour to marinate.
  • Brown meat. Heat a braiser over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the marinated (beef in an even layer) to the braiser, reserving as much marinade in the bowl as possible. Brown all sides of the meat, about 12-15 minutes. If your braiser or pot is not big enough, you may need to brown meat in batches.
  • Sauté onions. Once meat is browned, add onions and lower heat to medium. Cook for 4 minutes then add garlic. Cook until garlic is fragrant, about 3 minutes.
  • Add fish sauce and cook for one minute. Add tomato sauce and cook for another minute. Add bay leaves, 1½ tablespoons of marinade, 1¾ cups water, and 2½ cups chicken stock, stirring to combine well. Bring mixture to a boil then lower heat to medium and cover. Cook for 1 hour and 10 minutes, stirring every 10-15 minutes. If needed, add more chicken stock.
  • Add chopped red bell pepper. Cook for another 20 minutes. After 15 minutes, heat a medium skillet over high heat and ½ tablespoon oil. Once hot, add potatoes and carrots. Cook for 4 minutes then transfer to the stew. Stir to combine and continue to cook for another 15-20 minutes or until vegetables are cooked through and meat is fork tender.
  • Serve with jasmine rice and enjoy!
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a bowl of mechado served with jasmine rice

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jeri-mobley

Hey, I'm Jeri!

At Whisper of Yum, we explore ALL cuisines - comfort foods, classics, elevated originals. If you love food like me, I invite you to settle in to this place, where swoon-worthy food is attainable + inspo for your next meal awaits.

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