This machaca recipe makes the perfect dried beef from northern Mexico that is used to make from delicious breakfasts to tacos, burritos, and quesadillas.
Make it at home using your stove or oven and enjoy one of the most traditional Mexican basic recipes.
What is machaca?
Machaca or carne seca is a northern Mexican preparation made by sun-drying slices of beef until it is practically cooked. The meat will be then pounded until crumbled and almost pulverized, making it perfect to store for long periods of time without the need for refrigeration.
Traditional Machaca won’t have any spices or seasonings besides salt, but modern recipes include other additional ingredients such as chilies, garlic, peppers, etc. This preparation is often used to make burritos or to make it with scrambled eggs for breakfast.
How it taste?
Like salted beef. That’s it if you make this machaca recipe using only salt for seasoning. If you use other spices, it will acquire a different taste as well. Think of beef jerky, but with a finer texture.
The homemade version
Even though Machaca can be found at many Mexican supermarkets, the truth is there’s rarely available worldwide so your best option is to make it at home. It takes a little effort and time to make, but you can do large batches and keep them stored for several months.
Since leaving the meat to dry under the sun doesn’t seem like a good idea, especially if living in a city, a homemade version of the machaca recipe can be done by cooking it on the stove or the oven.
What meat to use?
Brisket is always my first choice, but other cuts such as top sirloin or chuck roast are also perfect to make this recipe. Just be sure to ask your butcher to cut the meat as finely as possible as this is key to dry out the beef.
Our tips for making Mexican dried beef at home
- Keep it simple. The less spices you add, the most strong beef flavor will have.
- Thin slices. If you want to cut yourself the meat, place it first in the freezer to harden it a little, it would be easier to cut it into thin slices.
Related: How to thinly slice meat.
- Make it drier. After you make it, place it on a large baking tray, spreading it all over. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and leave it at room temperature overnight.
- Food processor? If you want to use a food processor to shred the meat, go ahead, but be aware that the texture won’t be as finer as it is suppose to be.
Machaca Recipe Step By Step
Generously season the meat with salt on both sides. Place on a plate and keep it covered while making the recipe.
Place an iron cast skillet or a large pan over medium heat until smoky. Set heat to the lowest and arrange one or two beef slices making sure none of the pieces are touching or folded.
Cook flipping the meat from time to time. You’ll notice that first it will release a little bit of juice and take an even color.
Then, after about 10 minutes, it will have a darker color and be completely dry.
Repeat the steps for cooking with all slices, then place them in a single layer on your countertop or a large baking tray to allow them to cool down.
How To Cook In The Oven
- Preheat the oven to o 140°F (60°C).
- Arrange the meat on one or two oven racks and place it on the middle.
- Bake until the meat has dried out (about 2 hours) flipping it every 30 minutes and rotating the tray every now and then to cook evenly.
- Allow to cool down and proceed with the machaca recipe.
Once all the meat slices are cooked and cooled down, cut them into small pieces, so they will be easier to pound.
Place a small bunch of cooked beef into a mortar or a molcajete. Start smashing slowly first to break the meat, then harder to finely crumble it.
Keep working until you’ll finish all meat. It will take you a while, so get some help or take small breaks between batches. And that’s it! You machaca recipe is ready to use it right away or store as suggested below.
How To Store
Spread shredded beef in a single layer on a large tray, cover with a kitchen towel and leave it on the countertop overnight. This will allow any moisture to dry out so the meat won’t spoil.
The next day, divide the preparation into zip bags and store in the refrigerator for one week or freeze for up to 3 months.
How To Use It
- Replace chicken in our recipe for chicken burritos and use this dried beef instead.
- Add one or two spoonfuls to Mexican-style eggs (huevos a la Mexicana).
- 2 lb beef brisket (cut into thin slices)
- Generously season the meat with salt on both sides. Place on a plate and keep it covered while making the recipe.
- Place an iron cast skillet or a large pan over medium heat until smoky. Set heat to the lowest and arrange one or two beef slices making sure none of the pieces are touching or folded.
- Cook flipping the meat from time to time. You’ll notice that first it will release a little bit juice and take a evenly color (READ NOTES).
- Then, after about 10 minutes, it will have a darker color and be completely dry.
- Repeat the steps for cooking with all slices, making sure you place them in a single layer to allow them to cool down.
- Cut the meat into small pieces.
- Place a small bunch of cooked beef into a mortar or a molcajete. Start smashing slowly first to break the meat, then more harder to finely crumble it.
- Keep working until you’ll finish all meat. It will take you a while, so get some help or take small breaks between batches.
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