I love Mexican food. It’s probably my all time favorite food. I might even love it more than Italian and that’s saying a lot because I love pasta like the proverbial fat kid loves cake. Though I don’t make it often enough. Not counting the frequent refried bean quesadillas that seem to be a staple of our need food fast diet, I might only make Mexican food once or twice a year. That needs to change. Especially because I have this giant jar of dried chili peppers to work my way through.
That’s a lot of peppers, no? We ordered them online when I found a recipe in the dearly departed Gourmet magazine (I truly miss it so) for the Guadalajaran specialty, Carne Deshebrada En Salsa Roja. Beef simmered with onion and garlic in water scented with allspice and cloves, then shredded and cooked in a sauce with roasted tomatoes and guajillo chiles and chiles de arbol. The result is a spicy, savory, intriguingly scented beef dish that’s delicious on it’s own and lovely wrapped in warm tortillas. One day I hope to take one of those week long culinary vacations to Mexico where you tour markets and take cooking lessons. Until the, there’s this…
Carne Deshebrada En Salsa Roja
(Shredded Beef in Guajillo Sauce)
3 lbs skirt steak (or flank or brisket)
1 onion, quartered
3 smashed garlic cloves
2 bay leaves
1/4 tsp peppercorns
3 whole allspice (I didn’t have that so I used 1/2 tsp. ground)
1 whole clove (didn’t have that either so I used 1/4 tsp. ground)
2-3 med. tomatoes, quartered (not in season so I used canned, diced tomatoes)
3 Tbsp. olive oil
3 oz. dried guajillo chiles
1/4 tsp. peppercorns
1/4 tsp. cumin seeds
3 whole allspice (1/2 tsp. ground)
1 whole clove (1/4 tsp. ground)
1/2 chopped onion
3-5 garlic cloves
3-5 chiles de arbol, stemmed and seeded
Put all beef ingredients in a 5-6 quart heavy pot with 1 tsp. salt and enough water to cover beef. Simmer beef, partially covered, adding more hot water as necessary until tender. About two hours.
Remove beef from water and let cool. Shred and set aside. Reserve beef broth.
Toss tomatoes with 1 Tbsp. oil on a sheet pan. Broil 3-4 inches from until softened and charred, 10-12 minutes.
Slit guajillo chiles lengthwise and stem and seed them. Heat a dry, heavy skillet over medium heat until hot and toast chiles in two batches, opened flat, turning and pressing with tongs until slightly darkened and pliable, about 30 seconds per batch. Transfer to a bowl and soak in hot water until softened, about 20-30 minutes.
Toast peppercorns, cumin seeds, allspice and clove in a hot skillet over medium heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and a shade darker, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Transfer to a blender or food processor.
Drain soaked chiles and puree in food processor with toasted spices, broiled tomatoes, onion, garlic, chiles de arbol, 2 cups broth and 1 tsp. salt until smooth. (My note: in the picture, my sauce is not totally smooth because my food processor leaked on me and I freaked out and shut it off half blended! It’s all real cooking here 🙂 )
Heat remaining 2 Tbsp. oil in the cleaned pot over medium high heat and slowly add the sauce, stirring (it will spatter) and simmer, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Add beef and one cup broth and cook over medium low heat until beef is heated through, about 5 minutes.
I served ours with brown rice and canned (2) black beans that I cooked with one small onion, 5 minced garlic cloves, a bit of cumin and chili powder, a generous squirt of lime juice and a sprinkling of fresh cilantro. Delicious!
Do you cook Mexican food? Feel free to share your recipes here…