Tag Archives: parmesan cheese

Spicy Braised Beef Tacos with Cilantro Pesto

I had in mind some fabulous beef tacos I had a few years ago in a restaurant called Paladar Latin Kitchen and Rum Bar, near Cleveland, Ohio. A faculty member treated me for having helped her with some technology for her courses. It was more than a fair trade. I have no idea how the soft taco filling was actually made, but the memory was at least an inspiration for me.

I chose to braise the beef chuck roast on the stove, because I didn’t want to turn on the oven. I have my eye on a cast iron dutch oven for making such things on the grill, but while it’s still on my wish list, the stovetop will do. It’s a toss up as to whether the beef or the pesto was the hit of meal, or maybe it was the combination. Either way, I think these tacos are going on the menu of favorites.

Spicy Braised Beef Tacos with Cilantro Pesto

  • Servings: about 8 soft tacos
  • Difficulty: time-consuming
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Spicy Braised Beef

3 lb chuck roast

olive oil for browning

13 oz crushed tomatoes

up to 1/2 cup water or beef broth, as needed

1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper (canned chipotle in adobo sauce would be good, too)

1/2 teaspoon salt for cooking sauce

salt & pepper for seasoning beef

  1. Heat a dutch oven over medium-high to high heat. Add 2-3 tablespoon olive oil, then brown the seasoned chuck roast on both sides.
  2. Add the garlic and spices to the pan next to the roast and stir for a few seconds, but watch that none of them burn.
  3. Add the crushed tomatoes and as much water as you think you need to keep the sauce moist for about 3 hours of simmering. I suppose it depends on the quality of your crushed tomatoes. Some crushed tomatoes seem very watery or saucy, and some are very thick and full of tomato chunks. I needed about 1/2 cup of beef broth.
  4. Bring the sauce to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to a low simmer. Simmer for about 3 hours, until the meat pulls apart easily.
  5. Remove the meat to a platter or board, and pull apart. Strain out the tomatoes with a slotted spoon and add to the pulled beef.

Cilantro Pesto

2 bunches cilantro tops, cleaned and dried

1/2 cup parsley (I used my frozen, chopped parsley)

1 red onion, roasted on the grill

3 jalapeño peppers, roasted on the grill, peeled, and seeded

1 bulb roasted garlic

1/2 cup slivered almonds

1/2 cup Cotija or Parmesan cheese, grated

1 tablespoon lime juice

1 teaspoon Kosher salt

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

*Keep in mind that roasting garlic, onion, and jalapeño produces a milder taste than the fresh versions, which may be too strong for some tastes. If you aren’t going to roast them, you might adjust the amounts to your taste.

  1. I put everything but the oil into a food processor and processed until it was all finely blended.
  2. While the processor is running, slowly add the olive oil through the feed tube until the pesto is blended.
  3. Store in the refrigerator to serve with all kinds of meats, especially in tacos.
Putting the tacos together:

Soft taco shells

Shredded cabbage—red looks nice

Spicy braised beef

Cilantro pesto

Crumbled queso fresco

Build the tacos in the order above. That was easy.

Let the Machines Cook

Includes the recipes for “Deep-fried Breaded Shrimp, Rice with Peas and Parmesan, and Vanilla Ice Cream.”

It’s summer and one daughter and granddaughter are visiting, so there’s that tug between not wanting to do any cooking and doing a little as a treat for guests. I decided to just do it all in one day and let the machines take over. The rest of the week will just be opportunistic eating.

waringpro IMG_2001

I dragged out the Waring Pro® Deep Fryer (I see the newer ones are digital) and made some breaded shrimp. It couldn’t be easier, except for the three stage flour-egg-bread crumb process and the post eating clean up. In between, the frying is elementary and with no mess. Afterward everything except the heating element goes in the dishwasher after the oil cools, and you really can’t keep oil in which seafood has been fried, even if you strained it in cheesecloth, so disposing of a gallon of canola oil is a kind of a waste.

To go with the shrimp, I let the Black & Decker® rice cooker cook some arborio rice in chicken stock, with peas and Parmesan cheese.

After dinner, I made some vanilla ice cream in the Cuisinart® ice cream maker, with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Minis added as desired by each guest.

Deep-fried Breaded Shrimp, Rice with Peas and Parmesan, and Vanilla Ice Cream

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Deep Fried Breaded Shrimp

  • 2 lbs large shrimp, peeled and de-veined
  • 1 gallon cooking oil, or whatever your device requires
  • 1-2 cups all-purpose flour, seasoned to taste with salt & pepper
  • 3-4 eggs, whisked with 1/2 to 1 cup water
  • 2-3 cups breadcrumbs, seasoned or plain

Add the oil to the fryer and begin heating to 350° Set up the breading ingredients (flour, egg mixture, bread crumbs) in three separate containers for breading the shrimp. I put the flour in a large zippered bag and coated all the shrimp at once. I put about a third of the floured shrimp at a time in the egg mixture, turning them with a large spoon to coat. Then I put in the breadcrumb bowl with a slotted spoon to drain off excess liquid. I used another large spoon to turn the shrimp in the breadcrumbs. Shrimp are small enough that they are one of the few things you can bread without breading all your fingers in the process. I set out the breaded shrimp on paper towels to dry a little while the oil heated.

About ten shrimp in the basket cook in 1-2 minutes, then drain on paper towels while the rest cook.

Rice with Peas and Parmesan

  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 2 teaspoons Better Then Bouillon® chicken base
  • 2-3 cups water (I use extra water because of the addition of cheese and peas)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 1 cup frozen baby peas

Plan your rice based on your cooking method and type of rice to be ready shortly after all the shrimp are fried. Follow your cooker’s directions. Arborio rice cooks quickly in a rice cooker—about 30 minutes. during the last five minutes of cooking, stir in the cheese and peas. With arborio rice, this is a creamy dish.

Vanilla Ice Cream

Recipe Credit: Cuisinart® Ice Cream Maker

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1-2 teaspoons vanilla

This simple recipe is not one that requires cooking an egg-based  custard and comes together quickly. Simply mix the milk and sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Add the cream and vanilla. Start the machine and pour in the mixture. Churn for 25-30 minutes. The ice cream will be soft and about the consistency of an extra-thick milkshake. You can eat it or put it in the freezer for an hour or two to firm up. Serve with toppings, like Reese’s® Peanut Butter Cup Minis.

I hope this doesn’t sound like a complicated meal, because it really was simple and stress free. Tomorrow, the zoo and maybe some summer fare at Sara’s and Sally’s on the peninsula.