Why It Works
- By using machaca—beef that's already been seasoned, slowly dried, and pounded—the stew comes together in no time.
- Juicy, ripe tomatoes provide almost all the liquid you need to quickly braise the beef.
Machaca guisada is a beef stew typical of Northern Mexico's Sonoran cuisine. It’s made from dried beef called machaca, which is simmered with tomatoes, onion, chiles, and cilantro until rehydrated and tender. Traditionally, machaca is made by marinating and salting strips or slices of beef and then drying them in the sun until they achieve a jerky-like texture; they are then pounded into small, fluffy bits that are easily added to a variety of dishes, like this stew.
This version of machaca guisada is decidedly simple and straightforward. It was designed to be made with homemade machaca, but if you find yourself in a hurry, you should be able to find pre-made machaca at your local Mexican market in packages bearing the names machaca, machacada de res, or carne seca de res.
The key to this stew is to find the ripest, juiciest tomatoes you can—they provide most of the braising liquid needed to rehydrate the machaca. If you find yourself with with under-ripe tomatoes, you can add a little beef or chicken stock to keep the tomatoes and machaca just submerged as the stew simmers.
- 1 tablespoon (15ml) extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large (9-ounce; 255g) yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 1 small red Fresno or serrano chile, stemmed and finely chopped
- 2 medium ripe tomatoes (about 8 ounces; 225g total), cored and sliced into 1/2-inch wedges
- 4 ounces homemade or store-bought machaca
- 2/3 cup loosely packed, roughly chopped cilantro leaves and tender stems
- Beef or chicken stock, only if needed
- Kosher or sea salt, as needed
In a medium Dutch oven or large sauté pan, heat olive oil over high heat until shimmering. Add onion and chile pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions have started to brown but are not yet translucent, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the tomatoes and machaca, lower heat to medium, and cover with a lid. Cook, stirring every few minutes, until tomatoes have broken down and coated the machaca in a sauce and the machaca has rehydrated and softened, about 10 minutes; if your tomatoes are not juicy enough, you can moisten the stew with just enough beef or chicken stock to barely cover the tomatoes and beef. Stir in cilantro, turn off heat, and taste; season with salt only if needed. Serve warm.
Make-Ahead and Storage
The braised machaca can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Reheat before serving.