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Friday, August 29, 2014

bright & citrusy braised, shredded Mexican beef for tacos

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 2 pounds boneless beef for braising (chuck roast, flank steak, boneless short ribs, or other suitable cuts)
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder (I use homemade -- will post the recipe soon)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup cilantro (leaves and stems are fine -- it's all going to be pureed)
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 orange, juiced
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup water or stock
preheat oven to 325 degrees F. heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large French or Dutch oven (or other burner- and oven-safe pot that's big enough to hold everything) over medium-high heat, add the onion and pinch of kosher salt and saute until nicely browned, about 10 minutes. you're not caramelizing the onion; you're actually searing it a bit to get lots of good flavor, so let the pieces get nice and dark around the edges.

while the onion is frying, cut the meat into large (1-2 inch) chunks. combine the paprika, cumin, chili powder, 1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, pepper, cilantro, garlic cloves, citrus juices, olive oil and water (or stock), and puree in a regular blender or with an immersion blender. add the meat and the pureed mixture to the pot and stir. bring to a simmer, cover with an oven-safe lid (or cover tightly with aluminum foil) and place in the oven. cook for 2-1/2 to 3 hours, until meat is very tender.

when it's nice and tender (shreds very easily with a fork), turn off the oven. using a slotted spoon, scoop the meat out onto a plate. place the pot on a medium-low burner and reduce the cooking liquid, uncovered, until reduced by about half (you just want to reduce it enough so the finished mixture isn't watery). while the liquid is reducing, shred the meat using two forks, then add the shredded meat (and any accumulated juices) back to the pot. combine and adjust seasoning, if needed. serve with hot flour and/or corn tortillas, and accompany with crumbled cotija cheese, chopped tomato, shredded lettuce, guacamole or avocado slices, sour cream (or crema fresca, or Greek yogurt) and wedges of lime. very good when served with Mexican-spiced oven fries (that recipe is coming next)!

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