Braised Beef Machacha

Good morning!

As I mentioned in my original post, in my Food Science lab on Monday night we experimented with different ways to cook meat of varying levels of fat content. 

Here’s my lab group in action:


My friend Jillian fixing up some mini hamburgers:


And Tyrone, the lone male in our program, slicing some bread! Tyrone actually went to culinary school and worked as a chef for years before coming back to learn the nutrition side of things — we can’t wait til he cooks for us ;)


We had quite the spread when everyone was finished!

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I love that we get to eat the spoils of our labor in this class — hello, free dinner! Our professor even brought some side dishes for us to prepare and enjoy as well — this week’s sides were mashed potatoes and broccoli! Here’s Stephanie, excited about the broccoli. :)


Stephanie was a ballet dancer her entire life until about the age of 18 — everyone in my program has such cool backgrounds!

Anyway! Basically, the take home message was — if you’re cooking a super lean meat, you need to either marinate it or put something fun in it (fat free feta cheese, onions, garlic, spices/herbs, etc.) or it will taste gross. A cut of meat that’s fattier will take better to just being prepared with salt and pepper.

Also, if you have a tougher cut of meat, like my group did (we used top round beef) — try braising it!


Braising is a cooking method that uses both moist and dry heat. First, you sear the meat at a high temperature in a skillet, and then you finish cooking it in a covered pot (or pressure cooker, which is what we used to increase cooking time) filled with liquid.

Another group also prepared the exact same top round beef as us, but just cooked it normally in a pan, and it was super tough while ours fell off the bone! This is because braising uses the heat, moisture, and time to break down the tough connective tissue called collagen that’s in meat.

My group made a dish called “Beef Machacha” with the top round and it was so good I have to share!


Beef Machacha


  • 2.5 lbs Top Round
  • 1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 1/2 an Onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. Garlic, diced
  • 2.5 tsp. Black pepper
  • 1.5 Tbsp. Chili powder
  • 1.5 tsp. Paprika
  • 3 C diced Tomatoes (canned; including juice)
  • 2 C Beef Stock (low sodium if possible)
  • 1.5 oz. Chipotle peppers in adobo (canned)


1) Cut the beef into palm sized pieces.

2) Bring a pan to medium heat, add olive oil and brown beef in oil on all sides.

3) Put the beef in a pressure cooker (or large pot; it will just take a lot longer to cook) along with the rest of the ingredients.

4) Bring pressure cooker to pressure on high heat; then cook for 35 to 40 minutes. (If you’re using a regular pot, you will need to cook for a few hours — or until the beef is soft enough to easily shred).

5) Remove meat from pot and shred it using a fork (should be very easy to do), then add it back into the pot and stir.

6) The beef should now look like a wet mop :) Feel free to add more liquid or cook it longer with the lid off to boil off some of the liquid, depending on your preference.


This beef was really delicious, kind of like a spicy pulled beef BBQ! It was everyone’s favorite dish! It would be AMAZING on a sandwich with avocado, tomato, and spinach :)


(Sidenote — I think this is only the second beef recipe on my blog, heh! The other is my “Lasagna To Feed a Crowd” — yum!)

I’m off to get some work done — but, our couch gets delivered today!!! Happy day. The final piece and then we will be all settled! I have some friends coming over to do homework so I’m hoping it’s here before they arrive :)

In other news, I just made some epic “Spiced Butternut Squash Muffins”… stay tuned for the recipe!


  1. 1

    Looks good hun. I use my pressure cooker at least 3 time per week. Glad your sofa is being delivered today. Love your blog

  2. 2
    Lauren Elder says

    1) I can’t wait for those muffins at your place…will make BIOS much more enjoyable.
    2) THIS. IS. AMAZING. Glad you didn’t get me stuffing my face with the “low-fat” cookies :) See you soon!

    • 3

      Heh yes get pumped for muffins!! Muffins + homework = more awesome than just homework. :)

      And I’m totally getting a picture of you & the “low-fat” crack cookies next week ;)

  3. 4

    Yummmmmy! Your Food Science class looks so much more fun than mine was!! I wanna try mixing in some add-ins for my lean meats!

  4. 5

    That’s a lot of meat! Looks good though.

    I love using our slow cooker to make meat more moist. That could also be my lazy factor too. ;)

  5. 6

    everyone really does have awesome backgrounds! so awesome :)

  6. 7

    I’m so glad to hear you’re enjoying yourself in school!!!

    Food lab is so much fun!

  7. 8

    Oh my gosh, this looks amazing. I definitely went to school for the wrong thing! I am going to try to cook this in my new crock pot. (I am crock pot crazy right now.) :)

    Also, I cannot WAIT for the butternut muffin recipe. My CSA is bombarding me with squash and I need a good squash baked good to make.

  8. 9

    I think I need to invest in a pressure cooker. I like to make braised meat dishes but they always take so long. I usually have to wait until Sunday when I have more time to invest. Love my crock pot for lazy days but its sloooow.

  9. 11

    I’m curious: are there any vegetarians or vegans in your class?

    • 12

      Yes – there’s one vegetarian and one vegan, and of course a lot of us that don’t eat red meat much (me included!). Everyone has to cook and participate, but you don’t have to eat anything you don’t want to :)

  10. 13

    Yum! I don’t include it in my diet alot but juicy, well seasoned beef is just so tasty. Your classes looks so fun!

  11. 14

    Food lab sounds so cool! I don’t mind the blah-ness of super lean meat. I generally cook mine so well done it enters hockey puck territory anyhow.

  12. 15

    Yum, that recipe sounds so good! Is anyone surprised that I would like this? After all, I do have a soft spot in my heart for braising. Clearly. :)

  13. 17

    Such a cool class! I would enjoy this class very much.

  14. 18

    Wow – very interesting tips there! And what a great class!

  15. 19

    Neat stuff. Most interesting, indeed. Thanks!

  16. 20

    I’ve always been afraid of using pressure cookers (one of those stories you hear as a kid that haunts you for the rest of your life). I wish I wasn’t because I know they are pretty amazing things. Have you used them before? Any safety tips/advice? I love that you get eat your experiments when you are done!

    • 21

      I’m totally scared of them, too – we were afraid it would explode or something! Unfortunately I don’t have any advice or any experience with them except for this class… but it was really amazing how much it decreased the cooking time! :)

  17. 22

    What a great class! Those muffins and the beef manchacha look amazing! :-)


  1. […] to become a dietitian, and I was convinced the top was always about to blow off. (Here’s a blast from the past blog post recapping a food science lab class from one day in grad […]

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