This delicious, tender beef is perfect for all sorts of south-of-the-border entrees; tacos, enchiladas, burritos, tamales, nachos, Mexican salads, etc. And the slow cooker does most of the work!
They say the third time’s the charm, but I guess I’m a little slow…
It took four versions of this Slow Cooker Mexican Shredded Beef till I was finally satisfied – and there were lots of friends whose help I needed along the way!
Actually, it was a friend who inspired the recipe in the first place. Scott and I were attending our small group several weeks ago. Our church is large and one of the ways we connect with others members in such a large community, is through small groups that meet each week in homes throughout the city. The groups are not divided by age, but by location, so it’s fun and inspirational as we get to interact with people of all ages and walks of life.
We meet each week for Bible study and to encourage and pray for each other. Sometimes we also enjoy a potluck-style meal together. A few weeks ago, we were planning our next dinner get-together, when a friend pointed at me and said, “I’d love Chris to make something for us”. I was delighted, and asked if they’d like to do something Mexican – I would bring the entree and everyone else could bring sides to go along with it. The response was unanimous – and that was that.
At first, I thought I might do something with pork, but when I saw the nice lean stew beef at Costco a few days later, the matter was settled. I got to work that evening putting together the recipe. I decided to let the meat “marinate” overnight with a dry rub composed of chili powder, cumin, ground coriander, garlic powder, paprika, oregano, salt and pepper. In the morning, I seared the meat till it was deep golden brown and then deglazed the pan with red wine till syrupy. After that, the slow cooker does its’ magic, as the meat is combined with beef broth, orange juice, sliced green scallions, garlic and a scoop of chipotle in adobo sauce and slow cooked till it’s melt-in-your-mouth tender and delicious.
The meat easily shreds with two forks while you simmer the remaining sauce to a flavorful reduction. This keeps the beef nice and moist.
You might be wondering what chipotles in adobo are? If you’ve never used them, you’re missing out on something delicious. It was actually a friend of mine with a Mexican heritage that suggested using this condiment in my shredded beef. I was looking for a bit of smoky heat, and jalapeños just didn’t do it. She suggested a few types of chili peppers I could use for that effect, as well as chipotles in adobo.
When creating recipes, I like to try to use ingredients that are readily available. When I checked it out at my local grocery store, chipotle in adobo sauce was easy to find, so that’s what I went with. It’s located in the Mexican or Latin American section of most larger grocery stores, and comes in little cans about same size as green chilies. Chipotles in adobo are smoked and dried jalapeños rehydrated and canned in a tangy and slightly sweet red sauce called adobo. The chilies themselves are quite intensely hot, so you don’t need many to add wonderful smokey heat. I usually start with one, finely chopped and then add more, to taste.
The recipe makes quite a bit, so it’s perfect for a crowd. The beef also freezes well, so it’s nice to use for a few different meals.
I love to serve it with warm flour tortillas and lots of fun toppings like crumbled Cotija cheese, pickled red onions, cilantro sprigs, sliced avocado, shredded red and green cabbage, sliced bell peppers and fresh lime wedges.
It’s also perfect for enchiladas, burritos, tamales, quesadillas, nachos and Mexican salads.
Our small group loved the beef and there were lots of second helpings. I’ve also served it to family and a bunch of other friendly taste-testers, since the initial potluck. It’s been a thumbs up with everyone and I love that everything can be done ahead. I hope you enjoy it as much as we have! ¡Buen provecho!
- For the spice rub:
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon mild or sweet paprika
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- For the shredded beef:
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 3 pounds lean beef stew meat don't worry if it's slightly less or slightly more
- 1 cup red wine
- 2 cups beef broth
- 1 cup orange juice
- 2 bunches green spring onions, finely sliced (you'll use one bunch at the very end.)
- 3 cloves fresh garlic minced
- 1-2 peppers chipotle in adobo finely minced and 1 tablespoon of the adobo sauce.
- 1 medium jalapeno seeded and finely chopped
- Combine all spice rub ingredients in a large bowl. Add meat and toss well to coat meat with spices. (I like to massage the meat with my hands to really incorporate all the delicious flavors.) Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 10 hours.
- Heat 1 tablespoon coconut oil over medium high heat in a large Dutch oven or oven proof pot. (or sear it right in the slow cooker if yours has that function. I use my KitchenAid Mulit Cooker that has a sear function). When oil is very hot, add half of the meat in a single layer. Allow the meat to sear on first side till nice and brown,then flip and brown other side, about 6-8 minutes per side. Remove meat to slow cooker, add 2nd tablespoon of coconut oil to pot and repeat searing with second half of beef.
- When remaining beef is nicely browned, add it to beef in the slow cooker. Add red wine to searing pot and bring mixture to a boil, stirring and scraping bottom of pan to loosen the brown residue (technically called the frond - this is where the good flavor is!). Continue to cook, uncovered until wine has turned syrupy and has been reduced to about 1/4 cup, stirring occasionally. This should take about 10 minutes if you're keeping it at a steady simmer. If this process is going slow, turn up the heat a bit, but watch it carefully.
- Add reduced mixture, beef broth, orange juice, one bunch of thinly slice green onions, garlic and 1 finely chopped chipotle in adobo. Stir well. Place in slow cooker and cook for 3-4 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low, until meat is very tender and shreds easily with two forks.
- Remove beef with a slotted spoon to large bowl and allow to cool slightly.
- Transfer remaining liquid in slow cooker to a medium-size pot and bring to a boil. Continue to cook until reduced to about 1 cup.
- When beef is cool enough to handle, take two forks, and shred each piece a few times. Return shredded beef to bowl (or slow cooker) and combine with finely chopped jalapeño, sliced green onions and reduced cooking liquid. Stir well.(When the mixture is well combined, take a taste and, if you'd like more heat, add another finely chopped chipotle pepper mixed with a bit of beef broth. Stir well to evenly distribute chipotle mixture.You can always add more if you like even more heat, but I like to go slow because you can't take too much heat away.) Either serve immediately or transfer to storage containers and refrigerate or freeze for future use.
- Serve with warm flour tortillas and toppings like crumbled Cotija cheese, pickled red onions, cilantro sprigs, sliced avocado, shredded red and green cabbage, sliced bell peppers, fresh lime wedges, etc. It's also perfect for enchiladas, burritos, tamales, quesadillas, nachos and Mexican salads. ¡Buen provecho!
Serves 12-16 generously
When reheating shredded beef, I like to add a splash of beef broth (about a quarter cup) to keep it nice and moist.