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"A gourmet who thinks of calories is like a tart who looks at her watch." - James Beard


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Beef Barbacoa Tacos

One of the best techniques I discovered this year is creating a rich, flavourful sauce from dried chilis.  It works beautifully with pork, chicken, and now here's a beef recipe that tastes incredible.  

The original recipe comes from Serious Eats.  I made a few adjustments based on the chilis and meat I had available.  Here's what you need:

3 whole dried chilis (I used a combination of California and New Mexico chilis. You can use Colorado, ancho, pasilla, or any mild, fruity chilis)
4 cups chicken stock, divided
3 tablespoons canola oil, divided
1/2 pound oxtails or beef shank with bone
1 small onion, finely sliced
6 medium cloves garlic, smashed
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons dried oregano
4 chipotle chilis packed in adobo, with 2 tablespoons adobo sauce
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 teaspoons fish sauce
2 pounds stewing beef or boneless shortribs
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 bay leaves
Corn tortillas, onions, cilantro, salsa, limes, and other condiments for serving

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Remove the seeds and stems from the chilis.

Heat a large dutch oven over high heat and add the chilis.  Toast about 3 minutes, flipping occasionally, until fragrant.  Transfer chilis to a small pot, cover with 2 cups chicken stock.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil in dutch oven over high heat and brown the beef shank or oxtails for about 8 minutes, turning to brown all sides.

Once browned, remove the shank to a plate and add 2 tablespoons oil to the dutch oven.  Add the onions and cook over medium heat for about 9 minutes until deeply browned. 

Add the garlic, cumin, cloves and oregano and cook 1 minute more.  

Chop the chipotle chilis and add them, along with the adobo sauce, vinegar and remaining 2 cups chicken stock to the pot, scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.  Simmer for about 10 minutes until reduced by half.

Transfer the mixture to a blender along with the reserved chilis soaked in chicken stock and the fish sauce.  Purée about a minute until smooth.

Place the stewing beef, browned oxtail and bay leaves in the dutch oven.

Pour the sauce over top. Bring to a boil.  Then place a lid on the dutch oven and place in the oven.  Cook about 4 hours until meat is tender and falling apart.  

You can serve it immediately, or refrigerate for a few days to let the flavours develop and improve.  When ready to serve, reheat and shred the meat, mixing it with the sauce.

I made a salsa of chopped avocado, radish, onion, cilantro and lime juice to serve with the beef. 

I warmed some corn tortillas and served two with each taco so the extra tortilla would catch anything that fell out.

The flavour is incredible.  Although it's a lot of ingredients and cooking time, the effort is worth it for this deeply flavoured meat.  Er used the leftovers to make nachos which were also amazing.  Try this!  

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