Last Updated on February 23, 2024 by Carne Diem
Origin: Venezuelan, South American
Method: Stovetop or grillJump to Recipe
Homemade grilled arepas are filled with juicy shredded Venezuelan beef. The juicy shredded flank steak is slow cooked with peppers, onions, and spices in the flavorful South American recipe.
Table of contents
Arepas are a staple of cuisine throughout many of the Northern South American nations such as Venezuela and Colombia. These corn patties consisting of ground maize or corn flour are cooked and then stuffed with an assortment of meats and fillings. For our Venezuelan Shredded Beef Arepas we chose to fill the arepas with Carne Mechada, another classic Venezuelan dish. Carne Mechada is similar to Mexican Carne Picado, but the slices of steak are replaced with tender shredded beef. The juicy, tender shredded beef makes for a perfect filling for the arepas.
Making the Venezuelan Shredded Beef Arepas
Select and prepare the meat for the Carne Mechada
Carne Mechada can be made from an assortment of beef cuts or roasts, but we have found that flank steak works wonderfully. Flank steak is taken from the abdominal muscles of the beef. It has a great flavor, but can be tough if not cooked or sliced properly. Thankfully, in the recipe, the meat will be braised and then shredded resulting in perfectly juicy, tender, and flavorful meat.
Sear and brown the flank steak
First lightly season the flank steak with some salt and pepper and cut the flank steak into 4 pieces.
On your stovetop or grill, heat the cooking oil over medium-high heat. Brown the flank steak on all sides.
After the flank steak is browned add in the onion and stir.
Add in the 2 cups water and 2 cups beef broth then add enough water to just cover the meat. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer, cover, and simmer for 2 hours.
After 2 hours, remove the meat from the beef broth and shred. Reserve the cooking liquid.
Finishing the Carne Mechada
Now it is time to give your Carne Mechada that great flavor. You will need Worcestershire Sauce, salt, pepper, garlic, tomato, onion, red bell pepper, cumin, oregano, tomato sauce, a jalapeno and 2 cups of the reserved broth from cooking the flank steak.
Dice the onion, bell pepper, jalapeno, and garlic and place in a bowl.
In a second bowl, combine the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, oregano, and cumin.
Heat the oil in a large sauté pan with high sides over medium heat. Add in the onions and peppers and sauté for 4-5 minutes until the onions are soft.
Next, add in the entire contents of the bowl with the tomato sauce. Mix well then add the shredded meat and 2 cups of the meat broth.
Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 20 min.
Keep the mixture warm while you make the arepas.
Making the Arepas
You can find arepas mix from most Latino markets and we have even found it at Wal-Mart on occasion. Look for masarepa or donarepa corn flour mix. Masarepa is instant corn flour made from precooked corn that has not been nixtamalized, which differentiates it from masa harina which is used to make corn tortillas. It comes in both yellow and white corn varieties. Our favorite is the white corn variety from P.A.N. If you can't find masarepa you can use masa harina. It will not be exactly the same but will get you close. If using masas harina follow the directions for making sopes or pupusas, as this will give you the closest consistency to an arepa.
To make the arepas, simply follow the instructions on the bag, as they can vary between different companies. Typically it is as simple as mixing the flour with some water or broth, letting it sit a few minutes, kneading, and forming into discs.
Cooking the arepas for the Venezuelan Shredded Beef Arepas
You have a couple options when cooking the areaps. When we prepare the Venezuelan Shredded Beef Arepas on our grill or smoker, we simply grill the arepas on a well oiled grill grate.
If we prepared the Carne Mechada on the stove top inside, then we simply grill the areaps in a well oiled cast iron or heavy bottomed pan. Regardless of the method that you choose, they will turn out fantastic.
Finishing the Venezuelan Shredded Beef Arepas
Once you have cooked the arepas, simply slice them in half and fill with the Carne Mechada. If desired, sprinkle with a little crumbled cotija cheese.
The Venezuelan Shredded Beef Arepas pair perfectly with fried plantains and seasoned black beans. You can also go non-traditional and pair with Charro Beans With Hickory Smoked Bacon, Always Crispy French Fries, or Jalapeno Black Eyed Peas with Smoked Pork Jowl.
Looking for more great Latino and South American dishes? Be sure to check out more of the best recipes from South America:
- Smoked Pernil- Puerto Rican Roast Pork Shoulder
- Rotisserie Picanha
- Salvadorian Pollo en Crema
- Grilled Brazilian Fraldinha
- Brazilian Feijoada: Meat and Black Bean Stew
- Peruvian Papas a la Huancaina
- Peruvian Roast Chicken: Pollo a la Brasa
- Argentinian Empanadas with Beef Tenderloin
Frequently Asked Questions
In Venezuela, carne mechada is typically made with flank steak of skirt steak, which is cooked until tender and shreddable and then finished with peppers, onions, and seasonings.
Left over Venezuelan shredded beef should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator and should be eaten within 3-4 days.
While they appear similar, sopes are made with nixtamalized masa harina, while areaps are made with a non-nixamalized corn flour.
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Venezuelan Shredded Beef Arepas with Carne Mechada
- 1.5-2 Pound Flank Steak
- 1 Onion sliced
- 1 Tablespoon Cooking Oil
- 2 Cups Beef Broth
- 2 Cups Water
- ½ teaspoon Black Pepper
- ½ teaspoon Salt
- Tomato diced
- 8 Ounce Tomato Sauce
- 1 Red Bell Pepper diced
- 1 Yellow Onion diced
- 1 Tablespoon Mexican Oregano
- 3 Garlic Cloves minced
- 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
- 1 teaspoon Cumin
- 1 Jalapeno diced
- Cut flank steak into 4 pieces. Heat oil over medium-high seat. Brown the flank steak in the oil then add the onion and stir.
- Add in the 2 cups water and 2 cups beef broth then add enough water to just cover the meat.
- Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer, cover, and simmer for 2 hours. Remove meat from the beef broth and shred. Reserve the cooking liquid
- Heat the oil in a large sauté pan with high sides over medium heat. Add the onion, peppers, and garlic. Sauté for 4-5 min until the onions are soft.
- Add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, oregano, and cumin. Mix well. Add the shredded meat and 2 cups of the reserved beef broth. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 20 min.
- Prepare the arepas per package instructions. Grill on a hot grill over direct heat, or cook in a well oiled cast iron or heavy bottom pan until the top and bottom are nicely browned and the arepas are cooked through.
- Halve the arepas and fill with the carne macheda.