Recipes

Pressure Cooker Beef Mechado: Filipino Beef Stew

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There is a major benefit to having a bff who is Filipino. Lumpia, adobo, and mechado.

Yeah, yeah, her personality and her kids are good and nice too.

But back to the food. I have been blessed to be taught the “lumpia” quite well. This is what happens when they want to add two working hands to a lumpia wrapping fest before someone’s birthday or graduation party. I have also been introduced to spicy banana sauce thanks to the Ligaya family. More on this later when I post about lumpia.

Considering lumpia is not really on my health plan right now, I will wait until the next major Ligaya celebration when I am wrapping and frying to post that recipe. I have not yet attemped to make adobo. My best friend’s mom makes it soooooo well and it tastes so amazingly salty and savory and indulgent with fluffy white jasmine rice that I am not ready to take it on. This is the ONLY dish where I don’t think cauliflower rice would be a proper substitute for white rice.

But beef mechado, oh em gee. It pairs perfectly, if not better, with my favorite Trader Joe’s product, riced cauliflower. Sorry if there is not a TJ’s near you and you have to make your own… Mechado is a beef stew that is made with a tomato base and has a rich flavor to it that I can only describe as hearty and fulfilling. Mechado feels cozy and to me, it is so much better than any American beef stew I have ever tried or made. The flavors are much deeper and developed than your typical beef stew. Especially when you use a pressure cooker. So I hope you have one!

Being able to make a couple Filipino staples is important to me because Ryan and I ave spent so much time with Michelle’s entire family. We have all been together for so long and share so much history together. When I was in high school, I did cheer and gymnastics.  Both seasons went on at the same time and so I went from school to gymnastics practice to cheer practice/sporting event nearly every day of the week. One time I blanked on eating (I know, ME!, that’s how crazy I felt) and I had a dizzy spell during cheer practice. My best friend who wasn’t quite my best friend yet, was this sweet older girl with the same name as me. She was kind of shy with a caustic sense of humor that was really surprising because she seemed quiet for a cheerleader. We had bonded at cheer camp that summer and I think she decided I needed some nurturing. Her Asian gene was on high alert and she started bringing me food to practice. Seriously… like little home cooked Filipino meals in tupperware with a fork and everything. Mechado over rice, adobo with rice, pancit with rice. It was so sweet and so “her”. She would just say, “Hey, eat.” Now we take care of each other. Which is probably why we have all been best friends for over 10 years.

So yeah, before I get all weepy about my sweet stupid best friend 🙂 I will share the recipe for our mechado. This is a combination of what Michelle taught me and how I adapted it to work for my electric pressure cooker. Her family kind of braises in it in a big pot and I used to make it in my slow cooker, but pressure cooking this is the way to go for sure. Michelle tried it the first time I made it in the pressure cooker and she couldn’t believe I got the meat so tender in 40 minutes, hands free. Her kids loved it and had seconds which I rarely get them to do and they ate the cauliflower rice like it was rice. Because I totally lied to them and told them it was rice. They never knew a thing. Jaden is an observant little cookie though because when she was helping me stir it, she commented that my rice smelled like corn.

This beef mechado is relatively quick and easy for a beef stew. Everyone I have made it for has enjoyed it and I make it almost every 2 weeks. It makes great leftovers too. I am sure it would freeze great, but we have never had enough leftover to try. This recipe is also pretty freaking healthy when paired with the cauliflower rice. I use more carrots than I use potato sometimes, but this is one of those recipes where you really want to allow yourself some starchy, complex carbs.

Beef Mechado

  • 2 TB of extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil
  • 2 lbs of stew meat, in 1 in pieces
  • 1/2 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce (I use reduced sodium)
  • 1 can tomato sauce, 29 oz
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 1 small lemon, cut in half
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 small potatoes (I use Yukon gold), washed and chopped into 1 in pieces
  • 1 lb bag of baby carrots (or 1 lb of peeled, chopped carrots)
  • Cauliflower rice or real rice for serving
  1. Put your pressure cooker on the saute/brown setting. For my pressure cooker, that is the “Rice” setting. Add a couple TB of your chosen oil (I like EVOO). While the oil is getting hot, season the meat with generous amounts of kosher salt and pepper. (If you are making regular rice to serve with it, you will want to do this now as well) 
  2. When the oil is hot, sear the pieces of meats in 2-3 phases as not all of it will fit at once. 1-2 minutes per side should be about right. Set aside on a plate.
  3. Once all the meat is seared, add the onions to the pressure cooker and saute for a couple minutes. Then add the garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes or the onion if soft.
  4. Return the meat to the pressure cooker and give it a quick stir. Add the 1/4 cup of soy sauce to deglaze the pan a bit and stir. Add the tomato sauce, tomato paste, the two lemon halves and the bay leaves to the pot and stir. You will want to remove the lemon and bay leaf later.
  5. Put the pressure cooker lid on and set the timer for 25 minutes. The cooker will build pressure (this took mine only about 10 minutes as the tomato mixture was already getting hot) and then start to cook.
  6. While the meat is cooking, wash and chop up the potatoes and carrots if not using baby carrots. When the 25 minutes is up, release steam manually and very carefully.
  7. Add the potatoes and carrots to the pressure cooker and give it a quick stir. Replace the lid and set the cooker to 12 minutes.
  8. While the vegetables are cooking, prep your cauliflower rice by microwaving or sauteing it until cooker. When the 12 minutes it up, you can either let the cooker release naturally or do it manually. I let mine release naturally until I am ready to serve dinner.

To serve, remove the bay leaf and lemon, season with salt and pepper by taste, and serve over “rice”! 

PHOTO INSTRUCTIONS!

Put your pressure cooker on the saute/brown setting. For my pressure cooker, that is the “Rice” setting. Add a couple TB of your chosen oil (I like EVOO). While the oil is getting hot, season the meat with generous amounts of kosher salt and pepper. (If you are making regular rice to serve with it, you will want to do this now as well). If you are short like me, you may need a stool to help you get your arm into the pressure cooker…

When the oil is hot, sear the pieces of meats in 2-3 phases as not all of it will fit at once. 1-2 minutes per side should be about right. Set aside on a plate. Once all the meat is seared, add the onions to the pressure cooker and saute for a couple minutes. Then add the garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes or the onion if soft.

 

Return the meat to the pressure cooker and give it a quick stir. Add the 1/4 cup of soy sauce to deglaze the pan a bit and stir. Add the tomato sauce, tomato paste, the two lemon halves and the bay leaves to the pot and stir. You will want to remove the lemon and bay leaf later.

Put the pressure cooker lid on and set the timer for 25 minutes. The cooker will build pressure (this took mine only about 10 minutes as the tomato mixture was already getting hot) and then start to cook.

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While the meat is cooking, wash and chop up the potatoes and carrots if not using baby carrots. When the 20 minutes is up, release steam manually and very carefully.

Add the potatoes and carrots to the pressure cooker and give it a quick stir. Replace the lid and set the cooker to 12 minutes.

While the vegetables are cooking, prep your cauliflower rice by microwaving or sauteing it until cooker. When the 12 minutes it up, you can either let the cooker release naturally or do it manually. I let mine release naturally until I am ready to serve dinner.

 

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