Tasajo is a very delicious dish made from fresh beef that is rehydrated during cooking. There will be many ways to do it, for example, Cubans will rehydrate dried beef, while Panamanians will dry fresh beef. Either way, this dish is incredibly attractive, not dry and hard.
For the dried meat
- 1 1/2 lbs beef bottom round
- 1 tsp achiote paste*
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp ground pepper
1) If not yet sliced, slice bottom round into 1/2″ to 3/4″ steaks (you’ll probably get two which you can cut in half to make four) and trim off fat and tough connective tissue.
2) In a cup, dissolve the achiote paste in the Worcestershire sauce, stirring and mashing with a teaspoon, and then stir in the remaining ingredients.
3) Rub the paste onto both sides of the steaks (use it all) and refrigerate for 8 hours or so in an airtight container.
4) Preheat oven to 350°F. Place marinated steaks in a greased ovenproof dish and bake uncovered for about one and a half hours, turning steaks over after 45 minutes and then again every 15 minutes or so, until meat is dry. Marinade and meat juices may burn at the edge of the dish, but that won’t affect the meat.
5) Let the steaks cool to room temperature then place them between two sheets of plastic wrap and pound them thin with a meat mallet or rolling pin. Take care not to pound too much or you’ll shred the meat.
Meat can be prepared in advance and safely refrigerated for up to 3 days.
For the sauce
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1/2 a green or yellow bell pepper, chopped
- 4 plum (roma) tomatoes, cored and chopped
- 1/4 cup sherry or white wine (optional)
- 1/4 tsp powdered oregano or 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1 can diced tomatoes (14 to 15oz or so)
1) Heat oil over medium heat and sauté onion until starting to soften about 3 minutes.
2) Add bell pepper to the pan and continue to sauté for another minute or so.
3) Add the fresh tomatoes and the wine (if using) and continue to cook for another 5 minutes.
4) Stir in the oregano and the canned tomatoes (with their juice).
5) Let the mixture return to a simmer and then mash with a potato masher. Taste for salt.
Sauce may be made in advance and safely refrigerated for up to 3 days. To finish the dish, just heat up the meat in the sauce and garnish with chopped parsley or cilantro. Have habanero hot sauce available.
*Achiote paste is available at Mexican and Latin markets.