One of the things I remember most about my grandma is that she was a wonderful cook. There always seemed to be at least one large pot simmering away on Grandma’s stove, you didn’t have to see it to know that it was there, the smell wafted throughout the little house and greeted you like a warm hug as soon as you walked through the door.
Little did I know at the time, my grandma’s large pots of home cooked goodness were “guisados”. No matter our ancestry, or where we come from, we all cook guisados. Guisados aren’t any one specific thing but what they do have in common is that they’re all slow-cooked one-pot wonders. A guisado could be potatoes with poblano chili strips, meatballs in a spicy tomato sauce or, in this case, an inexpensive cut of beef cooked slowly until it yields tender shredded meat for making tacos de guisado. These are the tacos my grandma would have made had she been born south of the border.
Because we always serve at least one salsa with tacos I’ve also included the recipe for the salsa I serve with these tacos, Avocado and Roasted Tomatillo Salsa.
Shredded Beef in Salsa Verde
(Carne Guisada en Salsa Verde)
For the sauce:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large white or yellow onion, roughly chopped, approximately 2 cups
1 Serrano chili, stem removed and cut crosswise into 4 or 5 segments
½ pound tomatillos, approximately 4 medium, quartered
4 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped
½ teaspoon sea salt, medium grind
3 cups water, divided
Preparing the beef:
1 ½ tablespoons vegetable oil
2 pounds chuck pot roast, 1 ½ -2 inches thick, trimmed of excess fat (diezmillo or paleta in Mexico)
2 teaspoons sea salt, medium grind
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
3 bay leaves
¼ teaspoon leaf marjoram
¼ teaspoon thyme leaves
3 C finely shredded green cabbage
½ C chopped cilantro leaves
Avocado and Roasted Tomatillo Salsa (recipe follows)
Remove the beef from the refrigerator to bring it to room temperature before browning.
Heat one tablespoon of oil over medium heat in a Dutch oven or large, heavy pot with tight fitting lid.
Add the onion and Serrano pepper to the oil and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent, approximately 8 minutes.
Remove the pieces of Serrano chili and reserve.
Add the tomatillos, garlic, salt, and ½ cup of the water. Cover, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.
Transfer the onion and tomatillo mixture to the blender jar along with the remaining 2 ½ cups of water.
Blend until smooth, approximately 10 seconds.
Add the chili segments piece by piece, blending between additions, until the desired level of heat is achieved.
Heat 1 ½ tablespoons of oil in the Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
Pat the meat with paper towel to remove extra moisture and season with salt and pepper. Sear the beef until dark golden brown top and bottom, turning only once.
Pour the tomatillo sauce over the beef and add the bay leaves, marjoram, and thyme.
When the sauce begins to simmer, cover and reduce the heat to the lowest setting that will maintain a simmer.
Cook for 2 ½ hours or until the beef is tender.
The beef is done when you’re able to easily pull the meat apart with the twist of a fork.
Remove the cooked beef from the sauce and transfer to a large dish; shred using two dinner forks.
Increase the heat to medium to reduce the sauce if necessary; the sauce should coat the back of a spoon. Return the shredded beef to the pot and stir to incorporate.
Avocado and Roasted Tomatillo Salsa
The roasted tomatillos in this sauce provide an earthy flavor which is well suited for Shredded Beef in Salsa Verde. The acidity of the tomatillos will keep this sauce from darkening for a few days. If you prepare the sauce in advance, refrigerate with plastic wrap covering the surface. Bring to room temperature before serving.
2 large tomatillos
1/4 medium white onion
2 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 Serrano chili
1/4 cup cilantro
1 teaspoon chicken bouillon
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon lime juice
In a heavy skillet over low heat, slowly roast the tomatillos, onion, garlic, and chili pepper, turning occasionally to brown on all sides, approximately 15-20 minutes.
When the garlic is soft, slip it from its skin and place it in the bowl of a food processor or blender jar along with the roasted tomatillos, the onion, and half of the Serrano chili.
Add the salt, bouillon, and cilantro, blend for a few seconds until there are no large chunks but the sauce still has some texture.
Taste for heat and blend in additional minced Serrano chili if desired.
Halve the avocado lengthwise, twist the two halves to separate and scoop the avocado into a medium sized bowl.
Using the edge of a large serving spoon, break the avocado up as you would for guacamole, creamy but with some small pieces.
Pour the contents of the blender jar into the bowl with the avocado. Stir to combine.
Yield: 2 Cups
For more recipes visit www.sayulitalife.com/aunt-terri-cooks
Written by: Terri Arronge
Edited by: Sarah Jean Mark