A braised recipe for Mexican beef tacos. Cooked low and slow, these tacos are succulent, rich, and flavorful.
By Diana Bauman
On cold, frigid days, like the ones my family has been experiencing lately, there is something about a slow cooked braise in the oven that brings warmth and comfort to a home.
Braising is one of my favorite methods of cooking. It’s a traditional cooking technique to make palatable the tougher, more affordable cuts of meat. In every braise, the meat is first browned, and then finished in a covered cast iron dutch oven, in just a bit of liquid, to cook at a low temperature. In the cooking process, the low heat and moisture breaks down the tough connective tissue called collagen. It literally melts the collagen into gelatin which then turns the tough piece of meat into tender, juicy strips that can be pulled apart with a fork. It’s magic, I tell you; however, it does call for time and patience.
For this particular recipe, I wanted to make some braised, Mexican beef tacos so as Rick Bayless would do, I toasted some dried chili’s from my garden in a bit of oil to start the braise. Once the chili’s were fragrant and left the oil with a bit of spice, I removed them and browned the seasoned roast on both sides, making sure the oil was hot enough to ensure a good crust.
Now, because this particular cow that my family had purchased was particularly tough, it took me 4 hours to braise this meat to become fork tender, but my oh my, the wait was worth it. These braised, Mexican beef tacos were rich, full of depth in flavor … simply sensational!
Crockpots are definitely little braising machines; however, the depth in flavor that you get from a braise cooked slow in a dutch oven just can’t be replicated in a crockpot. Also, if you happen to have a really tough grassfed cow (maybe it was a much older cow), using a crockpot even on low for 10 hours may not be enough to tenderize your beef. A crockpot retains much more water than braising in a cast iron dutch oven slowly in the oven.Print
As a first generation American, Diana shares her family’s traditional Spanish and Mexican recipes at her successful blog Spain In Iowa. She also writes about faith, family, organic gardening, raising backyard chickens and preserving the harvest.