Our new favorite meal around here is shredded beef tacos. After living in Texas for 2 years, I got completely hooked on Mexican food and am always looking for ways to incorporate it into our menu. My guys love tacos, but I get tired of the same old ground beef variety so I decided to play. This is basic Mexican. Believe me, I can get way fancier, but this is down and dirty, easy to make, GOOD food that all the kids and hubby love.
Okay, are you ready???
First, head to the store and buy a good roast - or not so good as you'll see in a minute. I usually buy a sirloin tip or an English roast. Truthfully, I can't tell a bit of difference between them in taste or tenderness. I usually buy whichever is on sale. For our family of nine, I buy a 3 1/2 to 4 lb. roast.
However . . . the following is made with rump roast that my dear mother-in-law bought for us. It turned out just as good and is much more economical to buy if you're on a tight budget.
Okay, start by letting the roast come to room temperature. Season all the sides well with kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper. Then, place in a pre-heated skillet (coated with oil) and brown on all sides. You want your skillet to be hot from the get-go to get a nice, brown sear.
Side one . . .
Last side getting brown . . .
We were VERY blessed by m-i-l to get not one, but TWO roasts, so I made them both and packed them into the crock pot. This is a big crock pot - not the smaller round one. As you can see, it is wall-to-wall. Never fear, it will all turn out okay in the end. :-)
Once you get that beautiful, brown, salty, peppery roast into the crock pot, head to the pantry and get the following . . .
. . . it is IMPERATIVE that you buy this kind. Target (my favorite store!) Archer Farms Roasted Tomato and Chipotle Salsa. If you don't happen to have a Target store nearby, try to find a good, smoky, roasted chipotle salsa. I can't guarantee the results though!
Next, open the jar (I used two jars this time since I had two roasts. One jar is enough for one roast unless you like a lot of extra sauce.) **See note at bottom about number of jars.
I puree my salsa because my kids don't like "chunky" salsa. As in, if they can't see the big pieces of tomato and peppers, they don't realize exactly what they're eating, they just know they like it. I have a very low tolerance for food whiners so this little step eliminates that for me. Completely worth it for all of us. :-)
After you've made the decision to puree or not puree, pour it over the roast(s). Let it run all down the sides and into the bottom. Cover that meat!
The only real way to do this right is to cook it on low all day. You want the meat fork tender and shreddable (is that a word?)
Now, go about your day. At this point, if you're thinking ahead, you may want to make homemade tortillas. We love this recipe from Pioneer Woman. I use lard and I'm tellin' you they are AMAZING. I've eaten a few tortillas in my lifetime and once you've had these, the store bought ones just don't cut it. They take a little work but I promise you, they are TOTALLY worth it if you can carve out the time to make them. Delicious! You can make them ahead of time and re-heat for dinner and they are just as good.
Okay, back to the meat . . .
After about six or seven hours, grab a fork, lift that lid and test the meat. You should be able to sink that fork in and pull away a tender piece of meat with no problem. If it doesn't shred easily, let it cook longer. This is very important. You want that meat fork tender. Critical.
Here is the beautiful, brown, smoky, finished meat. This cooked for about seven hours . . .
At this point, your nose will be in heaven. Something so wonderful happens when the beef and salsa meld together. It is the perfect blend.
This night, I shredded the beef all up and skimmed the fat off the remaining sauce in the crock pot. Then, we took the homemade tortillas and started building . . .
Meat . . .
Cheese . . .
Homemade salsa - also from Pioneer Woman and after making MANY batches of salsa, this one is my go-to. It is perfect EVERY time . . .
Lettuce . . .
Sour cream . . .
Avocado . . . (if you like it!)
Once you've built your perfect taco, wrap up that tortilla and take a big bite. You will be in heaven. I promise.
Because I had so much meat, I took some of it and made beef enchiladas the next night. Just roll the meat and some cheese up in tortillas and use the remaining sauce over the top. If you want to get really crazy, add some caramelized onions inside too. Cover with foil and bake for about 20-30 minutes or until hot all through. I put cheese over the top when there are about 5-10 minutes left to go on the baking. Leave the pan uncovered and when cheese is completely melted they're ready to eat.
**If you're planning to make enchiladas, definitely use two jars of salsa so you have enough sauce to pour over the top.
Unbelievably, with this large family, we actually had even MORE meat leftover after tacos and enchiladas. The third day, I made nachos with the last of the meat and they were delicious. Topped them with cheese and heated them in the oven. Everyone added their favorite toppings after that (lettuce, salsa, sour cream, etc.)
So, there you go! Easy, and at least three really yummy ways to use the same meat!
I have also used chicken breasts and a pork shoulder with this salsa and they were also REALLY good. We happen to like the beef best, but you really can't go wrong with any of the three.