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Carne Desmechada – Colombian Shredded Beef

Carne Desmechada, or Colombian Shredded Beef, is a flavor packed dish featuring tender shredded beef in a rich tomato sauce. Serve with rice and plantains for a perfect Latin dinner!

carne desmechada colombian shredded beef plated with rice and plantains

Carne Desmechada (Colombian Shredded Beef) Recipe

Carne Desmechada is a staple in most Colombian homes. It is a delicious, saucy dish that is packed with so many flavors such as onion, cumin, garlic, tomatoes and aromatic spices. This classic beef dish is very easy to make and is great over rice, patacones, or arepas. It can also be used as a filling for tacos or empanadas.

My family’s good Colombian friend introduced me to this amazing dish. It is a popular recipe in Colombia and Latin America.  This is an ideal dish that you can prepare ahead of time as it continues to get even more flavorful.

There are many variations of making shredded beef in Latin America, and each one varies from the other depending on the country. In Colombia, onion and garlic is added to the pot while the meat is cooking to give it flavor. Then it’s shredded. Hogao, or the stew, is then mixed in with the shredded meat to finish off this saucy dish!

What is in Carne Desmechada?

ingredients to make carne desmechada colombian shredded beef
  • The meat is first boiled in water with seasonings to tenderize the meat and infuse flavor
  • Flank Steak – is a cut of beef that is very easy to stew and shred. The meat is naturally very grainy and therefore shreds easily into strips. You can also use chuck or your preferred cut of beef for shredding
  • Onion, garlic, green onions, salt and pepper – are added to the water while boiling the meat. These aromatics infuse flavor into the meat but also flavor the cooking liquid that will be used later in the dish
ingredients to make carne desmechada colombian shredded beef
  • The second part of the recipe is to make the sauce which is called hogao
  • Tomatoes – are finely diced with their seeds removed to create the tomato base for the hogao sauce
  • Onion, garlic and green onion – are the aromatics of this sauce
  • Sazón Goya – is a store bought all purpose seasoning blend commonly used in Latin cooking. It can be found in most grocery stores in the international aisle. See notes below in the recipe card for a homemade seasoning blend
  • Cumin, salt and pepper – cumin adds a smokey flavour to the sauce and is a spice commonly used in Latin cooking
  • Oil – is used for cooking down the aromatics

How to Make Carne Desmechada

Full printable recipe at bottom of page

steps to make carne desmechada colombian shredded beef

Prepare the Meat

1 In a large pot add the water, meat, onion, garlic, green onions and beef bouillon if using. Cover the pot and bring to a boil over high heat.

2 Reduce heat to medium low. Cook covered for 1 to 1 ½ hours, or until the meat is cooked through and tender enough to be shredded.

3 Remove the meat from the pot and set aside to cool. Reserve the beef broth to be used later.

steps to make carne desmechada colombian shredded beef

Prepare the Hogao Sauce

4 To prepare the hogao sauce, heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the white onion and cook for 2-3 minutes or until transparent.

5 Add the green onion and garlic. Cook for 1-2 more minutes.

6 Add the chopped tomatoes and cook for 5-8 minutes or until softened and broken down. Season with the cumin powder and Sazón Goya or homemade seasoning mix.

7 Once the meat has cooled, shred with a fork or pull apart with your hands and add to the hogao sauce. Stir to coat the meat in the sauce.

8 If there is not enough liquid in the pot to evenly coat the meat, add some of the reserved broth from cooking the meat.

9 Simmer over low heat until the meat is tender, about 5-10 minutes.

10 Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add additional broth as needed for desired saucy consistency.

Serve over rice or with arepas, patacones, or roasted plantains. Enjoy!

carne desmechada colombian shredded beef plated with rice and plantains

Can Carne Desmechada be Frozen?

YES! I like to make a big batch and keep some in my freezer. This isn’t necessarily the quickest weeknight dinner, which is why I like to keep a batch frozen so I can take it out the night before and enjoy this amazing dish in a flash! It is also great to keep a batch frozen so you can whip up a quick batch of empanadas, tacos, patacones or arepas.

To freeze, add the cooled carne desmechada into a freezer bag. Seal the bag and squeeze out all the air. Flatten the meat into a thin layer so it can lay flat in your freezer. When you freeze the meat in a thin layer it will also thaw out faster! Thaw it out in your refrigerator overnight and enjoy!

carne desmechada colombian shredded beef plated with rice and plantains

Looking for More Latin Inspired Dinner Ideas?

Try some of my family favorites:

  • Fish Tacos – with an irresistible lime crema, mango salsa and cabbage slaw! My family loves these for Taco Tuesday.
  • Chicken and Rice (Arroz con Pollo) – a simple delicious one pan meal loaded with veggies and Latin flavors!
  • Chicken Enchiladas – my favorite easy weeknight dinner made in a flash with the help of an Instant Pot!

Enjoy!

– Sab

Disclosure: I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are my own. This post may contain affiliate links that at no additional cost to you, may earn me a small commission.

carne desmechada colombian shredded beef plated with rice and plantains

Carne Desmechada (Colombian Shredded Beef)

Carne Desmechada (Shredded Beef) is a staple in Colombian homes. It is a delicious, saucy dish that is packed with some many flavors such as onion, cumin, garlic, tomatoes and aromatic spices. This classic shredded beef dish is very easy to make and is great served over rice, patacones (fried plantains), or arepas. It can also be used as a filling for tacos or empanadas. This classic dish is very easy to make and packed with flavors. This is an dish that you can prepare ahead of time as it continues to get even more flavorful.
5 from 8 votes
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 2 hrs 30 mins
Total Time 2 hrs 50 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Colombian
Servings 6 servings
Calories 313 kcal

Ingredients
 
 

  • 2 – 2.5 lbs flank steak, or chuck
  • 2 medium onion, quartered
  • 6 green onions
  • 5 garlic cloves, whole
  • 8 cups water, or enough to cover the meat plus 2 inches
  • 1 beef bouillon cube, optional

Hagao Sauce

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, finely diced
  • 6 green onion , finely chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 4 medium tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 packets Sazón Goya, approximately 1 tbsp, or Triguisar, Bijol or homemade seasoning blend below
  • salt and pepper , to taste

Homemade Seasoning Blend

  • 1/2 tsp ground annatto, achiote, paprika or turmeric, this is mainly for color. Use paprika if you cannot find annato or achiote.
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Instructions
 

  • In a large pot add the water, meat, onion, garlic, green onions and beef bouillon if using. Cover the pot and bring to a boil over high heat.
  • Reduce heat to medium low. Cook covered for 1 to 1 ½ hours, or until the meat is cooked through and tender enough to be shredded.
  • Remove the meat from the pot and set aside to cool. Reserve the beef broth to be used later.
  • To prepare the hogao sauce, heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the white onion and cook for 2-3 minutes or until transparent.
  • Add the green onion and garlic. Cook for 1-2 more minutes.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes and cook for 5-8 minutes or until softened and broken down. Season with the cumin powder and Sazón Goya or homemade seasoning mix.
  • Once the meat has cooled, shred with a fork or pull apart with your hands and add to the hogao sauce. Stir to coat the meat in the sauce.
  • If there is not enough liquid in the pot to evenly coat the meat, add some of the reserved broth from cooking the meat.
  • Simmer over low heat until the meat is tender, about 5-10 minutes.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add additional broth as needed until desired saucy consistency.
  • Serve over rice or with arepas, patacones, or roasted plantains. Enjoy!

Video

Notes

Sazón Goya is a store bought seasoning blend found in the international isle of most grocery stores.
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NUTRITION

Calories: 313kcalCarbohydrates: 14gProtein: 35gFat: 13gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 91mgSodium: 366mgPotassium: 923mgFiber: 3gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 934IUVitamin C: 23mgCalcium: 102mgIron: 4mg
This nutrition information is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. See our full nutrition disclosure here.

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