Beef Mechado Filipino Recipe – Beef Stew with Polenta

Beef mechado is a Spanish dish that has been adapted to the Filipino palate. It is made by marinating beef pieces in soy sauce, vinegar, lemon or calamansi juice, garlic, black pepper and bay leaf, then braising it until tender and the flavors have infused the meat and the liquid is reduced to a tomato-based, rich-flavored gravy.

Carrots and bell peppers are included into the mix to round up the stew. Potatoes are usually included but I opted out of them as potatoes are not very well liked in the house. But you can definitely add them when you make yours.

beef mechado filipino recipe

I used the InstaPot to tenderize the meat but you can also use a pressure cooker or just cook it on the stovetop. Whatever you do, make sure the beef is melt-in-your-mouth tender with the gravy reduced so that you get al the flavors blended together. Makes my mouth water just writing about it!

It is best eaten with white rice but I wanted to try something different and when I saw polenta cylinders in the store, I decided to pair it with beef mechado. Kind of like the Italian dish beef ragu – a seasoned italian dish of meat and tomatoes.I sliced the polenta in round pieces and fried them lightly in olive oil. I then ladled beef mechado on top, garnished it with green peas and voila, a nice-looking dinner!

Best Beef Mechado Recipe

Beef mechado is a type of beef stew made by marinating beef pieces in soy sauce, vinegar, lemon or calamansi juice, garlic, black pepper and bay leaf, then braising it until tender and the flavors have infused the meat and the liquid is reduced to a tomato-based, soy-flavored gravy.

Course Main Course
Cuisine Filipino, Spanish
Keyword filipino cooking, healthy eating, beef mechado filipino recipe
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
rest time 5 minutes
Servings 6 people
Author Maria


  • 2 lbs beef chuck steak or brisket or rib eye is good, something with a little fat
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 pc potato peeled and cut into cubes
  • 1 pc red bell pepper cut into cubes
  • 5 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 pc onion chopped
  • 1 pc lemon juiced
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sugar optional
  • 2 pcs bay leaves
  • 2 cups beef broth from tenderizing beef in Instapot or stovetop
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup frozen green peas
  • 1 pc cylinder prepared polenta cake optional


  1. Cut beef pieces into 2 inch cubes
  2. Put beef in Instapot with 2 cups water and 1/2  tsp salt  and press Manual for 20 minutes. You can also do it in a medium pot on the stove for about 30 minutes until the beef is tender.
  3. When done, release pressure in Instapot. Remove beef and save the broth in a bowl for later.
  4. Wash or wipe the inside of the Instapot with a paper towel. Click Saute. When hot, add olive oil and fry carrots and potatoes until browned. Set aside. You can also do this on the stovetop in a wok or big frying pan or a Dutch oven.
  5. If using polenta, add polenta rounds and fry for about 2 minutes each side.Set aside.
  6. Add olive oil, saute garlic and onion until onions are translucent.
  7. Add beef and stir fry for 2 minutes
  8. Add bay leaves, lemon juice, soy sauce. Continue to cook for about 1 minute.
  9. Add tomato sauce,  beef broth, bell pepper, fried potatoes and carrots. Add sugar if desired. Mix well.
  10. Press Manual and cook for about 10 minutes.If using stovetop, cover the pot and cook on Medium heat for about 15 minutes.
  11. Release pressure. Add frozen green peas and cover for 5 minutes before serving. Do not overcook the green peas.

How to Serve Filipino Beef Mechado

You can definitely serve beef mechado with rice. You can use brown rice or quinoa to make it healthier. Or, you can try what I did and serve it with polenta. If you want a more saucy meal, put the mechado in a separate bowl.


beef mechado recipe filipino

What is polenta?

I used it on this dish so let me explain what polenta is. Polenta is of Italian origin. It is basically boiled cornmeal.  It is good to eat with meats which is why I picked it as a side dish for the mechado.  For this dish, I used polenta  that has been solidified into a loaf. The loaf can be sliced and fried, grilled or baked.

Polenta can also be served as a creamy hot porridge. It is just like making steel-cut oatmeal. The best ratio of liquid to grain is 4 to 1. You can use water, broth or even milk to boil the cornmeal in.

Before corn was brought from the Americas to Europe, polenta was already a staple food in Europe but it was made from other grains and legumes.

Nowadays, polenta is only made with corn. You don’t have to buy imported polenta. You can use any medium or coarse-ground cornmeal. Here is a link to Bob’s red Mill ground cornmeal that you can use.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>    Bob’s Red Mill Ground Cornmeal

Why I Used Instapot

I used Instapot for this dish because I wanted to cook the beef fast and at the same time infuse all the flavors into it while cooking. This appliance has proved to be a valuable one for me in the kitchen. The good thing about it is you can saute, fry on the same pot before you simmer and tenderize. It makes all dishes one-pot meals.

If you can make room for one appliance in your kitchen, this is it. I promise you won’t regret it. And the best part is: it is not pricy at all. You can get the most basic one and still reap the benefits. Read my Instapot review here before you buy.

 >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>  MY INSTAPOT REVIEW


If you do not have an Instapot, a Dutch oven  is also a good pot to cook this in.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> LODGE 6 QUART DUTCH OVEN


Did You Like It?

Do you think Filipino Beef Mechado is something you are going to make? It is relatively easy and the only con is it is not a 30 minute meal. You need at least an hour using an Instapot. I would consider this for entertaining or for holidays. Make it and bring it to a potluck with your friends. This is so good I even save the gravy even when the meat is gone. I’m sure you will like it too.


Kain Na! (Let’s Eat).







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