This well-known Latin rendition of pot roast probably morphed from the dried/salted beef  of the cecina or  tasajo family since when either is shredded the result does look like the namesake old clothes or fabric. Basically you’re making boiled beef, or carnitas and you could use pork, lamb  venison or buffalo. After the selected cut has been thoroughly cooked and cooled, you shred or “jerk” the meat by hand and then combine it with the vegetables, herbs and spices to make this well-known dish. I suggest you use beef chuck for the meat but you could use a more expensive but less flavorful steak cut if you wish. Again be open as to how you embellish, use coconut milk instead of stock, toss in gandules or spice it up with chilies.

2 pounds flank, skirt or chuck steak

Equal parts  carrot, onion and celery, about 6 ounces each, chopped coarsely

1 tablespoon fresh, or 1 teaspoon dried, oregano

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon garlic, minced

8 bay leaves

Stock or base fortified water to cover

   1. In a large pot combine the meat, vegetables, spices and stock
   2. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer till very tender
   3. Remove from fire, cool to room temperature
   4. Remove meat then pull apart by hand, refrigerate
   5. Strain the brazing stock  reserving the  strained vegetable
   6. Process the vegetables and return to the stock, then reduce and refrigerate

You can braise the meat a day ahead of your production or on the same day if wished, in either case, it’s easiest to shred the meat shortly after it’s been cooked while still somewhat warm. The next step is to saute the following ingredients and then add the meat and vegetable thicken brazing liquid. This thickening technique is one you can use with other recipes since Panamanians don’t seem to use liaisons to thicken their constructs although they sometimes mush up a corm or root to thicken their sauces. In completing the construct you can add some citrus juice and unrefined sugar, known as raspadura, which seems to appear in almost every Panamanian recipe stated or not.

1 cup sliced onion or whites of leek

1 cup sweet peppers sliced, your choice; bells, wax, jarred cherry or pepperoncini

1 tablespoon garlic, minced

1 can peeled pear tomatoes and their juice

All the braised shredded meat

2 cups vegetable thicken braising stock

To taste granulated base and freshly ground black pepper


   1. Saute the onions, pepper and garlic till limp
   2. Add the tomatoes, meat and stock
   3. Simmer to the desired consistency
   4. Adjust seasoning with granulated base, pepper, citrus and sugar

Glenn Gamboa
The Three Sisters