Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Pictureless Post

Shredded Chuck Roast Tacos
This week has been one of great reflection and nostalgia.  Some of it happy and some of it a little painful.  Regardless, I came up with - due to a little absentmindedness - a wildly tasty taco recipe.  While it does take some time, it is worth all three hours.  In addition, I was thinking about College Foodie meals in which one protein product could cover several meals, such as the "week in a day" concept by Rachael Ray. 
 As a kid, my mom often would make a roast of some sort and make several meals out of it:  roast, potatoes with a vegetable one day, roast beef sandwiches with chips and broccoli the next day, spaghetti with roast chunks another day, mini pizzas on English muffins with roast beef and cheese yet another, and so on.  My mom was able to do this also with pork, chicken and turkey.  One bulk protein made a week's worth of meals.  I have been mulling this concept over in my mind so as to help my son eat a balanced diet while away at college.  My mom often made pot roast and made many different meals out of it, and I decided to use that protein and make tacos out of it.  
The reason there is no picture is a bit frustrating and embarrassing.  Last Monday night my phone (an older Blackberry Torch) was charging and I'd forgotten to set it to silent.  The phone rang while I was outside watering my plants, the phone fell off of my dresser and the charger was severely bent, and when I tried to gently remove it, disaster ensued.   I had to wait until the next day to go to my storage unit to retrieve my wonderful "old reliable", my old Nokia flip phone, which has saved my ability to communicate with the world and remain "in the know" several times in the past.  Now, I had given my son my camera last year to use for school projects, so I had been using my Blackberry to take pictures for my blog, ergo why the pictures are the way they are;  not bad, but not camera awesome. While my little old Nokia takes pictures, they are small and a bit grainy compared to today's amazing cell phone cameras.  I finally went to the ATT store yesterday (perfect timing, just before the release of the iphone 5) and ordered my first i Anything.  The sad thing about my wonderful old Blackberry, which I loved very much, is, I lost ALL of my phone directory.  If my friends' phone numbers were not in my Nokia from 2011, or 2006 (the last time I'd used it before 2011), then I have lost them. It has been a bit lonely this week, except for computer messaging, so I have had a lot of quiet time to catch up on work and also to cook.  NOW TO THE COOKING PART!
As I mentioned previously, this has been a week of reflection on the old days and how my mom stretched one main protein (and saved money, which is VERY important to parents putting kids through college!) over a week's time, and also about how technology has changed my life.  While I am the MOST technolgically DEFICIENT person Ever, the advent of the camera phone has enabled me to write and illustrate this humble blog.  During my techno-blackout, there are no pictures of the food.  
Here's my Shredded Beef (Pot Roast) Taco Recipe:
1 large, thick, marbled pot roast (1-2 pounds)
1 large yellow or red onion, or two medium onions, sliced into half moons half an inch thick (to make a bed for the pot roast)
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 tablespoons (three liberal rounds around a high-sided pot) of vegetable or extra virgin olive oil or grape seed oil)
1 can Ranchera Sauce (found in the Hispanic Food section of your grocery store)
1 can Verde Sauce (found in the Hispanic Food section of your grocery store)
1 can or box of chicken stock or broth 
1 large can or bottle of your favorite Mexican beer (I used Tecate)
2 tablespoons Smoked Sweet Paprika
1 tablespoon of coriander seeds
salt and pepper
 2 teaspoons of cumin seeds
1 tablespoon Chipotle powder
1 tablespoon Poblano or Pasilla Powder
2 tablespoons of dried oregano (crushed in your palms to release the flavor)
 the juice of four limes
In a large, high-sided pot add the oil.  You will want to use an oil that has a high smoke tolerance, such as vegetable or grape seed oil, or, canola oil.  Extra Virgin Olive Oil is alright, if that is all you have, as it will enhance the flavors of the other ingredients, but for searing the meat, which is coming up, one of the other oils would be best for searing. To the oil, add the coriander and cumin seeds.  Turn the heat to low for three minutes, then to medium for three minutes - and watch the seeds begin to sizzle and pop - and then to medium-high heat.  
Meanwhile, season the roast on both sides with half of all of the other dry seasoning ingredients.  If you need more to cover the meat, then add more!  Using a paring knife or a large fork, puncture the meat all over, particularly the fat in the middle of the roast as you season.  When fully seasoned and when the seeds in the oil begin releasing their flavors (your nose will know!) add the garlic and the roast.  Sear it all over, about six minutes per side until all sides are cararmelized, black and brown.  The aroma in your kitchen will be Heaven!
Remove the meat after it has thoroughly seared, add the onion bed to the pot, place the meat atop that, and then add the liquids:  the chicken stock and the beer.  Add the rest of the dry ingredients and the other half of the garlic.  Allow the liquids to come to a boil.  Reposition the roast Just to make sure it is surrounded by the liquids.  As it boils, your neighbors will come knocking on your door to see what you are making.  My oldest son walked by outside to pick something up from my patio, and he texted me about the smell.  Said he was "dying" it smelled so good! 
Now for the easy part.  Cover your pot and reduce the heat to a simmer and allow the meat to simmer for 45 minutes.  Turn the meat after 45 minutes and simmer it for another 45 minutes. There is another  option, which is a bit easier IF you have an oven-safe pot, such as a dutch oven.  If you have a dutch oven, preheat the oven to 375 degrees and, upon bringing the liquids to a boil on the stove top, turn off that stove top heat and place the pot in the preheated oven.  Same time frame applies.  
After the 80 minutes, check the meat to see if it is very loose and if it easily pulls apart.  I have you check that to make sure it is fully cooked.  If the meat still clutches, let it cook for another twenty to thirty minutes.  It WILL be done by that time, regardless of the size of your roast. The aroma will blow you away, trust me.  You will be Quite happy!
Remove the pieces of the roast (because it will NOT come out in one piece now) and let it rest a few minutes before shredding.  Besides, the most difficult part of this meal is about to bore you.  Skim the fat off the top of the remaining liquid in the pot as best and completely as possible.  Next, using either a blender, food processor or immersion blender, emulsify the remaining liquid.  Blend it up!  This is FLAVOR!!!  Set aside a small bowl of the liquid, now your sauce,  and freeze the rest of it for future sauce starters!  
Once the meat has been fully shredded and the fat discarded, add the sauce you had set aside in a bowl.  Mix the meat with the sauce well.  You will LOVE this flavor. Your nose will tell you how good it is!

Now, and FINALLY, prepare your corn or flour tortillas, whatever your preference is, and your cheese, for serving.  You could also finely chop or shred cabbage or lettuce for this, thinly slice radishes, halve a couple of limes or get out your favorite hot sauce or salsa, and serve yourself and your loved ones this amazing beef.  

One last thought:  You Could also take some of the meat and crisp it up in a small skillet if you like your meat a bit crispy!

I served my tacos with Oaxaca cheese I had shredded, with red cabbage I'd finely chopped, and lime juice, and garnished with cilantro.  I will tell you, this reminded me of eating at the food carts in Ensenada, Mexico. Flavorful, filling and satisfying, and completely nostalgic.  

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did.  AND, once I get my new phone, I will make this again and post pictures for you!