Monday, July 2, 2012

Simple and Braisin'.

The hubbs and I strolled through the Rockridge Market Hall early yesterday evening trying to figure out what sounded good for dinner... We've eaten a lot of hearty meals lately so I was searching for something a little less complicated based on very few simple ingredients.  We usually lean towards spice and love anything wrapped in a tortilla, so naturally we decided on tacos.  Not just any tacos.  Braised beef with roasted pepper tacos, topped with plain sour cream.  That's it.

My mom used to make a version of these when I was young and I've never been able to duplicate the smoky, savory delicious flavor she managed to concoct so many years ago- until now.  I'd be curious to see her recipe and compare to my own because these came pretty close to the taste I've been searching for.  The emphasis is on the combination of the meat and fresh peppers, therefore, we only topped ours with very little sour cream to cool the heat off.  We're talking spicy here people!  Not burn your lips off hot, just spicy enough to make your nose water a little and your mouth feel fiery.  The hubbs was in heaven and is very much looking forward to having a second helping topped on homemade tortilla chips tonight. 

The key to this recipe is patience.  I would highly advise using a slow cooker if you have one, to make the process easier.  We waited a little too late in the day to purchase meat from Marin Sun Farms to do so, but I found that using a large skillet with lid works just as well.  This recipe took about two hours to cook overall. 

*Braised Beef Tacos*
1 3/4 lb organic grass fed skirt steak
4 cloves of garlic, chopped coarsely
Olive oil
1 cup chicken stock
2 Serrano peppers, seeded and sliced
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and sliced
Anaheim chiles, seeded and sliced
1 Poblano peppers, seeded and sliced
Salt & pepper to taste
Small white corn torillas

Start by trimming your skirt steak of excess fat with a sharp pair of kitchen scissors.  Skirt steak is usually sold in very long, thin strips.  Add a healthy dose of olive oil to your skillet, toss in the garlic and turn on medium heat.  Cut skirt steak into smaller strips (about 2 inches) and place in skillet with olive oil.  Cut skirt steak until all meat is in the skillet and turn heat up to medium high.  Cook the steak until brown with dark brown crispy edges.  Turn heat back down to medium and add one cup of chicken stock and 1/2 cup of hot water- place lid on pan and let simmer.

In separate saute pan, turn to medium heat and add olive oil and sliced chili peppers.  The peppers will slowly start to saute and after about 5-6 minutes the edges will start to brown.  At this point I added about 1/2 cup of hot water to speed up the softening process.  Once that water evaporates, I added another half cup.  After 12 minutes the peppers should be soft enough to transfer.  In order to avoid too much oil, I placed 2 paper towels on a plate and poured the peppers onto the plate- the towel will soak up excess oil and then you can easily transfer the peppers into the meat skillet.  Mix the peppers into the meat/broth and place lid back on. 

This is where patience comes into play:
Leave the meat alone.  Don't touch it.  Keep your heat on medium and let it just soak and bubble and soak some more.  Check back on it every few minutes and add more water (the water will permeate the meat and evaporate continuosly).  When the meat/pepper mixture begins to look "sticky", add more water.  Repeat this process until you are able to simply "shred" the meat with a fork.  Like I said, it look about 1.5-2 hours for this to happen in a skillet.  If using a slow cooker, start in the morning- make sure you brown your meat first and saute your chili's, then add all ingredients into the pot with about 4 cups of water and let it cook all day long.  Same results without having to tend to the stove.

Once your meat has been declared "ready to shred", take a large wooden spoon and gently shread  the skirt steak while mixing together with peppers.  It will eventually start to become a "sticky" coupling, resembling what most would recognize as pulled pork.  It's taco time.

Get your tortillas nice and warm over the stove top, pull out a plate, load em' up and top these off with some nice cool sour cream.  You're gonna need it.  The hubbs added some of Half Moon Bay Trading Company's  Iguana XXX "Pretty Damn Hot" habenero sauce (because he likes to be in pain while he eats, apparently) and I sprinkled some Cotija cheese on my own just for kicks.

I'm seriously contemplating when I'm going to whip some of this braised beef up again.  I might make it a weekly meal- or find other things to do with the mixture.  Actually, this beef would be amazing stuffed in an enchilada or a tamale.  Hmm...


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