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Braised Mexican Beef Recipe - Filling for Burritos, Tacos, Enchiladas, Flautas, Taquitos etc.!

Updated on June 28, 2010

Ground beef is fine, and it’ll do in a pinch, but your Mexican dishes will taste much better once you start making your own braised and shredded beef.

It’s not at all hard to do and it won’t cost any more than ground beef – it will just require a bit of forethought, as this does take a few hours to prepare. Thankfully, this is big-batch cooking and you should make far more than you need, because once you freeze it in meal-sized portions, you’ll be ready for tasty Mexican at the drop of a hat for many meals to come.

Braised Shredded Mexican Beef

Here, as follows, are basic instructions for making a very tasty shredded beef filling for all sorts of Mexican dishes. You won’t find exact quantities here in the recipe, as you can make this with pretty much any amount of beef and it’s pretty easy to do – and really, once you understand the method here you are freed from the need for a recipe!

  • Beef chuck, cut into 1 ½ inch cubes
  • Salt and pepper
  • Soy sauce
  • 1 carrot, roughly chopped
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • A little water
  • Dried chili (ancho or any other that you like)
  • A little vegetable oil for frying
  1. Preheat an oven to 350
  2. Sprinkle a little salt and freshly ground black pepper on the cubes of beef and heat a heavy frying pan over medium, adding in the vegetable oil for sautéing. Once hot, add the beef in batches, adding only as much at a time as you can fit in the pan without any crowding. You are going to brown the beef here, and if you crowd the pan you get steam – which is an enemy to tasty browning! Take your time here and brown the beef very well on all sides, until it almost mahogany colored. Once you start braising the beef, it will brown no further (wet cooking) so this step is your last chance for tasty browning. Repeat with the remaining beef until done.
  3. Toss all the browned beef into a braising dish. Make sure that the dish you use has either a good tight lid, or that you have tinfoil on hand to create a lidded seal. You ideally, want a braising dish that will hold the beef in one layer, without a lot of extra free space. (if you don’t have this – just use what you’ve got)
  4. Toss the carrot, the onion and the bay leaf into the pan and then sprinkle a little soya sauce all over the cubes of beef (don’t use more than 2 or 3 Tbls in total here).
  5. Add enough water to the dish so that the water comes up about halfway up the sides of the beef cubes and then cover braising dish well (escaping steam can lead to dryness) and pop her into the oven for about 2 to 2 1/2 hours of braising. (check in after about an hour and a half to make sure there is still liquid in the dish.
  6. The meat is done when it is cooked through and breaks apart easily into strands of meat when pulled with 2 forks.
  7. Step one completed! You now have tasty braised beef cubes.
  8. To shred the meat, first off, pour all of the pan juices into either gravy separator or a tall narrow glass (if using a glass, make sure to let it cool a bit or you may crack it!)
  9. After a few minutes, the fat will; have risen to the top – skim off the fat with a spoon and reserve the juices.
  10. To shred the meat, use either 2 forks or your fingers and pull the meat into shreds. Discard any large chunks of fat - or anything that doesn’t feel quite like meat that you want to eat!
  11. Collect all of this shredded meat into a bowl and then season with a generous amount of dried chili, to taste. (It’s best to use a chili like ancho that isn’t terribly spicy, as it allows you to use more chili powder, which then allows you to use up your tasty beef juices without making the beef overly wet seeming.)
  12. After you add in the chili, add in as much of the reserved meat juice as you can without making it soupy, and then crack in some black pepper and add more salt to taste, if needed. Make sure you taste before you salt, as the meat juices can be salty.
  13. Taste again and add more chili powder if needed.

Done – use as a filling for tacos, burritos, enchiladas – whatever you can think of!


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    • Russell-D profile image

      Russell-D 7 years ago from Southern Ca.

      John -- Flautas in Chiang Mai? During my 30 years working in and out of Mexico City, Oaxaca, et al., Chickaen Flautas became a favorite especially helped with a Mexican version of Negro Modella. In my Mexico "A La Carte" chapter, I list a recipe I first tasted in Oaxaca, prepared by a French trained Chef. I fully descrbe it as he did to me, you might find it interesting. (Under Russell-D)

    • oceansnsunsets profile image

      Paula 7 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Hi John, this looks like a great recipe, and super versatile. I like that you can use it for the meat portions of many different meals.