Friday, June 27, 2014

an island time dinner (recipe: shredded beef tacos & cabbage with carrot slaw)

We spent the first half of this week on the coast celebrating my parent's 40th wedding anniversary.  We went shelling, we dabbled our feet in the water, we played in the sand, we were knocked over by the surf and at times the salt water won.  The rain did not put a damper on our beach time, chilled by the raindrops, rapid wind stinging our skin and taking warmth in the waters of the gulf, oh no, it did not dampen our plans.  We were surrounded by our loved ones and enjoyed the sounds of the waves, each others company and of course great food.
Each family chose a night to host dinner.  I served a fiesta of skillet fajitas with rajas con crema, saffron rice, black beans, chips & salsa, and shredded beef tacos with cabbage & carrot slaw.  With the exception of cracking open the can of black beans and cooking the rice, everything was pre-made and reheated at the beach house.  I preferred to be on island time rather than kitchen time during my stay.
The shredded beef tacos were mighty delicious.  It is a fairly easy recipe that creates saucy, meaty, and intensely flavored tacos.  The cabbage and carrot slaw can be made up to 24 hours in advance and adds a fresh, bright flavor to the tacos.  A perfect balance of rich, robust meat filling and a crunchy punch of slaw made this taco a perfect island time meal.

Shredded Beef Tacos
serves 6-8
source:  Cook's Illustrated no. 127

1 1/2 cups Dos Equis, or other full bodied lager
1/2 cup cider vinegar
2 ounces dried ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded, and torn into pieces
2 tablespoons tomato paste
6 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
3 bay leaves
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Salt & Pepper
1 large onion, sliced into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
3 pounds chuck roast, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 2-inch cubes

18 (6-inch) corn tortillas, warmed
4 ounces queso fresco, crumble
lime wedges
  1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees F.  Combine beer, vinegar, anchos, tomato paste, garlic, bay leaves, cumin, oregano, 2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, cloves, and cinnamon in Dutch oven.  Arrange onion rounds in single layer on bottom of pot.  Place beef on top of onion rounds in single layer.  Cover tightly and cook until meat is well browned and tender, 2 1/2 to 3 hours.
  2. Using slotted spoon, transfer beef to a large bowl, cover loosely with aluminum foil, and set aside.  Strain liquid through fin-mesh strainer into 2-cup liquid measuring cup (do not wash pot).  Discard onion rounds and bay leaves.  Let liquid sit for 5 minutes and skim any fat off surface.  Add water if needed to equal 1 cup.  Pour liquid back into unwashed pot and blend with an immersion blender until smooth.  Alternatively, you can pour liquid into blender and blend until smooth.
  3. Using two forks, shred beef into bite-size pieces.  Bring sauce to simmer over medium heat.  Add shredded beef and stir to coat.  Season with salt to taste.  (Beef can be refrigerated for up to 2 days; gently reheat before serving.)
  4. Spoon small amount of beef into each warm tortilla and serve, passing slaw, queso fresco, and lime wedges separately.
Cabbage-Carrot Slaw
1 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 head green cabbage, cored and sliced thin (6 cups)
1 onion, sliced thin
1 large carrot, peeled and shredded
1 jalapeno, stemmed, seeded, and minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  1. Whisk vinegar, water, sugar, and salt in large bowl until sugar is dissolved.  Add cabbage, onion, carrot, jalapeno, and oregano and toss to combine.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.  Drain slaw and stir in cilantro right before serving.

No comments: