Arepas con Carne Mechada
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Arepas con Carne Mechada

Tender, slow-cooked shredded beef wrapped in a savory and crispy arepa.

Jun 12, 2024

by: Alejandra Gonzalez | @alejandrasanet_

Imagine biting into a crispy, golden arepa filled with succulent shredded beef, enriched with the savory goodness of Loisa's Classic Sofrito and the perfect kick from Loisa's Organic Adobo y Sazón - that’s the best way to describe this delicious Venezuelan Arepa con Carne Mechada!

Seasoning with Loisa Organic Sazón

Since childhood, I've cherished the weekend mornings when my mom would prepare these delicious arepas using the recipe passed down from my grandmother. Now, I'm thrilled to share this beloved family tradition with you, enhanced with Loisa's flavorful heritage-based Sofritos and Organic Adobo y Sazón for an even more delicious and healthy twist.

The arepa, a versatile cornmeal cake, has been a cherished staple in Venezuelan cuisine for generations. With its crispy exterior and soft, warm interior, it pairs perfectly with a variety of fillings. My favorite? The rich and tender carne mechada, slow-cooked to perfection with a medley of spices and aromatics.

Scooping spoonful of sofrito for carne mechada

The magic of Carne Mechada lies in its slow-cooking process, which allows the beef to absorb the vibrant flavors of the sauce, resulting in a mouthwatering experience with every bite. Once cooked, the meat is shredded, creating a texture that is perfect for soaking up every bit of the rich, tangy sauce.

Prepping meat and vegetables for carne mechada

Usually when I make this dish, everyone is grabbing seconds, thirds, and even fourths, leaving the platter completely empty. But in the rare occasion that there are leftovers, here’s the best way to store and re-heat them:

Storing Arepas de Carne Mechada

For the best results, store the arepas and carne mechada separately. This helps maintain the texture of the arepas and prevents them from becoming soggy.

  • Arepas: Allow the arepas to cool completely, then wrap them individually in plastic wrap or place them in an airtight container. If you need to stack them, place a piece of parchment paper between each arepa to prevent sticking.
  • Carne Mechada: Transfer the shredded beef into an airtight container. Make sure the beef is fully cooled before sealing the container to avoid condensation, which can affect the texture and flavor.

Place the wrapped arepas and the container of carne mechada in the refrigerator. They should stay fresh for up to 3-4 days.

If you need to store them for a longer period, consider freezing:

  • Arepas: Wrap each arepa tightly in plastic wrap and then place them in a freezer-safe bag or container. They can be frozen for up to 3 months.
  • Carne Mechada: Transfer the beef to a freezer-safe container or bag, making sure to remove as much air as possible to prevent freezer burn. It can also be frozen for up to 3 months.
Arepas con carne mechada plate

Reheating Arepas de Carne Mechada

Move the frozen arepas and carne mechada to the refrigerator and let them thaw overnight. For quicker thawing, place the containers in a bowl of cold water.

Reheating Arepas:

  • Oven/Toaster Oven: Preheat your oven or toaster oven to 350°F (175°C). Place the arepas on a baking sheet and heat for about 10 minutes or until warmed through and crispy.
  • Stovetop: Heat a non-stick skillet or griddle over medium heat. Place the arepas on the skillet and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side until warmed through and slightly crispy.
Heating up arepas on stovetop

Reheating Carne Mechada:

  • Stovetop: Transfer the carne mechada to a saucepan and reheat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until warmed through. You can add a splash of water or beef broth if it looks dry.
  • Microwave: Place the carne mechada in a microwave-safe dish, cover it with a microwave-safe lid or damp paper towel, and heat on high for 1-2 minutes, stirring halfway through.

Assembling: Once everything is heated, slice open the arepas, fill them generously with the reheated carne mechada, and enjoy!

Recipe Tips and Tricks

For the Arepas:

  • Consistent Dough: When mixing the dough for arepas, make sure it's smooth and free of lumps. If the dough feels too dry, add a little more water, one tablespoon at a time. If it's too wet, add a bit more cornmeal.
  • Rest the Dough: Let the dough rest for about 5 minutes after mixing. This helps the cornmeal fully absorb the water, making the dough easier to shape and preventing cracks.
  • Uniform Thickness: Ensure that your arepas are of uniform thickness. This helps them cook evenly. Aim for about 1 cm (approximately 0.4 inches) thick.
  • Preheat the Cooking Surface: Preheat your skillet or griddle properly before placing the arepas. This helps them develop a nice crust on the outside while remaining soft on the inside.
  • Finish in the Oven: After browning the arepas on the skillet, finishing them in the oven ensures they are fully cooked inside. This also gives them a perfect texture—crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.
Arepas con Carne Mechada plated

For the Carne Mechada:

  • Choosing the Cut: Use a cut of beef that becomes tender and shreds easily after cooking, such as flank, brisket, or chuck.
  • Pressure Cooker Shortcut: If you're short on time, use a pressure cooker to cook the beef. It significantly reduces the cooking time while still yielding tender meat.
  • Flavorful Broth: Cook the beef in a flavorful broth with Loisa's Adobo and Sazon. This not only adds flavor to the meat but also provides a tasty liquid to incorporate into the final dish.
  • Shredding Technique: Let the beef cool slightly before shredding. Use two forks to pull the meat apart, or you can use your hands for more control.
  • Simmer for Flavor: After combining the shredded beef with the sofrito and other ingredients, let it simmer. This allows the flavors to meld and the sauce to thicken.

Each bite of this mouthwatering dish brings together the robust flavors of seasoned beef and the unique texture of the arepa, making it a perfect meal for any time of the day. Whether for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, Arepa con Carne Mechada is sure to delight your taste buds and bring a taste of Venezuela to la cocina.

Let's dive into this delicious dish and learn how to create this traditional Venezuelan favorite, right in your own kitchen!

 

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