Carne deshebrada, literally “shredded beef,” is a common offering at Mexican taco stands. It’s made by braising a large cut of beef until ultra-tender and then shredding the meat and tossing it with a flavorful rojo sauce made with tomatoes and/or dried chilies.
Although short ribs are a bit nontraditional, their ultra-beefy flavor makes them an excellent choice. To achieve flavorful browning, we raised the beef up out of the braising liquid by resting it on onion rounds; the ambient heat browned the short ribs just enough.
Next, we created a braising liquid that would infuse the beef with flavor and later act as a base for our rojo sauce. Beer and cider vinegar provided depth and brightness, and tomato paste boosted savoriness. Smoky-sweet ancho chilies gave the sauce a rounder flavor and a gentle, spicy kick.
Once the beef was cooked, we pureed the braising liquid into a sauce with a smooth, luxurious consistency. A bright, tangy slaw provided a nice counterbalance to the richness.
SHREDDED BEEF TACOS
By America’s Test Kitchen
- 1 large onion, sliced into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
- 3 pounds boneless beef short ribs, cut into 2-inch cubes
- 18 (6-inch) corn tortillas, warmed
- 4 ounces queso fresco, crumbled (1 cup)
- Lime wedges
- >> Braising liquid:
- 1- 1/2 cups beer (a full-bodied lager or ale such as Dos Equis or Sierra Nevada recommended)
- 4 dried ancho chilies, stemmed, seeded, torn into 1/2-inch pieces (1 cup)
- 1/2 cup cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 6 garlic cloves, lightly crushed
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- >> Cabbage-Carrot Slaw:
- 1 cup cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 head green cabbage, cored and sliced thin (6 cups)
- 1 onion, sliced thin
- 1 large carrot, peeled and shredded
- 1 jalapeno chili, stemmed, seeded and minced
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
>> To make slaw: Whisk vinegar, water, sugar and salt in large bowl until sugar is dissolved. Add remaining ingredients except cilantro; toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours. Drain slaw and stir in cilantro right before serving.
Heat oven to 325 degrees; adjust oven rack to lower-middle position.
Combine braising liquid ingredients in Dutch oven or large pot. Arrange onion rounds in single layer in bottom of pot. Place beef on top of onion rounds in single layer. Cover and cook until meat is well browned and tender, 2-1/2 to 3 hours.
Using slotted spoon, transfer beef to large bowl, cover loosely with foil; set aside.
Strain liquid through fine-mesh strainer into measuring cup (do not wash pot). Let settle 5 minutes, then skim fat from surface. Add water as needed to equal 1 cup. Pour into blender.
Discard onion rounds and bay leaves from pot; add remaining solids to blender. Blend until smooth, about 2 minutes. Transfer sauce to now-empty pot.
Shred beef into bite-size pieces. Bring sauce to simmer over medium heat. Add beef and stir to coat. Season with salt to taste. (Beef can be refrigerated up to 2 days; gently reheat before serving.)
Spoon small amount of beef into each warm tortilla and serve, with slaw, queso fresco and lime wedges on the side.
Approximate nutritional information, per serving: 521 calories, 21 g total fat, 8 g saturated fat, 94 mg cholesterol, 846 mg sodium, 44 g carbohydrate, 9 g fiber, 9 g sugar, 35 g protein.
America’s Test Kitchen publishes the magazines Cook’s Country and Cook’s Illustrated, as well as numerous cookbooks, and produces the PBS television show, “America’s Test Kitchen.” For recipes, cooking videos and product reviews go to americastestkitchen.com. This recipe is from the cookbook “How to Braise Everything.”