Hilachas (Guatemalan Shredded Beef in Tomato-Tomatillo Sauce)

READY IN: 3hrs 20mins


  • 2
    lbs beef flank steak or 2 lbs skirt steaks, cubed
  • 5
    cups water
  • 2 -3
    tablespoons oil
  • 1
    onion, chopped
  • 1
    cup tomatoes, chopped
  • 1
    cup tomatillo, chopped
  • 2 -3
    guajillo chilies, warmed over a flame, deseeded and chopped
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1
    lb potato, peeled and chopped
  • 2 -3
    carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 12
    cup breadcrumbs
  • 1
    bunch cilantro, chopped


  • Place the beef, water and a big pinch of salt in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the beef is very tender.
  • Remove the beef to a bowl, reserving the broth, and set aside to cool
  • When cool enough to handle, shred the beef with your fingers and set aside.
  • While the beef is simmering, place the onion, tomatoes, tomatillos and chiles in a food processor or blender and puree, adding a little water if necessary.
  • Heat the oil in a large pot over medium flame. Add the onion-tomato puree and simmer until the puree is cooked down and darkens somewhat in color, about 10 minutes. Do not burn.
  • Add the shredded beef and about 3 cups of the broth to the onion-tomato puree and season with salt and pepper. Simmer for about 15 minutes.
  • Stir in the potatoes, onions and a little more broth or water if necessary Simmer until the potatoes and carrots are cooked through, about 15-20 minutes.
  • Stir in the breadcrumbs to thicken the sauce.
  • Then stir in the chopped cilantro, adjust seasoning and serve hot with corn tortillas or rice.
  • *Variations.
  • Use 1 or 2 shredded fresh corn tortillas to thicken the sauce instead of the breadcrumbs if you like. If the sauce has thickened enough while simmering, neither thickener may be necessary.
  • Add 2 teaspoon achiote seasoning to the onion-tomato puree for added flavor. Bricks of achiote seasoning can be found at many Latin markets.
  • The potatoes and carrots can be eliminated if you like.
  • Canned tomatoes and tomatillos work just fine in this recipe.
  • Two cups of chopped tomatoes can be used if you would like to eliminate the tomatillos.
  • If you can't find guajillo chiles, use anchos or pasillas. Or substitute with 1 tablespoon of paprika and 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper.


“Found online; posting for ZWT 7-Central America (Guatemala). Recipe states: Pair it with a side of rice and fresh corn tortillas for a full meal.”