Visiting Baja California leaves you with some unforgettable recollections. From yummy foods, to refreshing drinks, to the cool breezes, we left Baja with memories that would eventually draw us back during our next holiday. I will hardly forget that chilly, dried and salted machaca, which is common in most restaurants we happen to have had dinner at in Baja. As we returned from our holiday, one question that kept lingering in my mind was, “what is machaca, and how do the locals manage to prepare such a tasty machaca?” I did a quick Google search to find out the nature of the traditional machaca and to understand how the beef is prepared. From what I learned, I was able to make something close to machaca using the recipe I obtained from a website maintained by one of the restaurants in Baja. As the next holiday approached, my husband asked me to propose the best destinations to visit. I had Baja California on the top of the list so that we would have a similar experience we had enjoying machaca.
Prepare machaca at home after your holiday from Baja California
Traditionally, machaca is a Mexican equivalent of the north Americas beef jerky. It is a form of beef that has undergone marination, cooked, shredded and then dried. In brief, machaca is a product of carefully dried, salted and rehydrated beef that is delicately roasted over a fireplace. The process of drying was recommended in the past to preserve foods before the advent of fridges. Drying today makes it easier for machaca to be packed on trails and give it a unique texture when the beef is prepared in a traditional manner. The meat is then soaked in water in order to soften it and remove excess salt. Locals then pound the meet into pieces over a mesquite trunk using a mesquite pole. Upon pounding, the beef is then soaked again in water to remove more salt. The next stage is to squeeze the meat then frying it in a skillet. Another addition is salsa, a mixture of oregano, tomato, chili and onion, which is cooked together with the fried beef for a duration of five minutes. Indigenes of northern Baja prefer making machaca with eggs, and they call this machaca con huevo.
Serve Machaca while hot
In Tex-Mex cuisine, there is an adapted form of traditional machaca that is a staple, which can be served either alone with taco fixings and tortillas or as a basis for a variety of other dishes. While a majority of people at Baja call it machaca, it appears on restaurant menus as simply shredded beef. The only difference between machaca and the shredded beef is that the beef does not undergo the drying process after the cooking. Generally, there are several differences in how machaca is prepared from one recipe to another.
History of machaca
Initially, the locals of Baja used to prepare machaca by drying the pork or beef. The meat would then be rehydrated before pounding it to make it a bit tender. This meat would then be used to make different types of dishes. Drying was purposely used to preserve the meet. Today, this process has been replaced with refrigeration.