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
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- I put everything but the oil into a food processor and processed until it was all finely blended.
- While the processor is running, slowly add the olive oil through the feed tube until the pesto is blended.
- 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
Crumbled queso fresco
Build the tacos in the order above. That was easy.