Happy #nationaltacoday! Here I am again, celebrating a pretend, hashtagged food holiday. Kinda silly, huh? Well, don’t hate me too much. These tacos make it all worth it.
Let’s just call the fact that I am organized enough to share a taco recipe with you on National Taco Day a fluke. Because, like the last hashtag food holiday, National Coffee Day, this is one I can definitely get behind…but was not necessarily prepared for. You see, these tacos have been planned for a long time (similar to those cookies last time). They’ve been a brain child of mine that has been in gestation (Ew? Weird analogy, right?) for months. It just didn’t seem appropriate to share a slow-cooking, braised beef recipe with you in, say…July. This is definitely an October recipe. And given that National Taco Day happens to fall in October…well, it worked out perfectly for me.
These tacos. Gah. I’m a huge fan. Well, of tacos in general. But these take the taco cake lately. My sister, the actual-trained chef, makes the best braised chicken tacos on Earth. Yup, throwing down the gauntlet…on her behalf. But it’s the truth! They are so darn good. Taco Tuesdays took on a whole new meaning when she cooked them up for us. They’re on their way to becoming a very serious weekly tradition. Perhaps I can get her to share the recipe with me so I can share it with you? Yes. Let’s make that happen. #nopressureoranything
THESE tacos, though, are right up there with some of the best we’ve had. They’ve got beer-braised, melt-in-your-mouth chuck roast, a slightly bitter-tangy radicchio slaw, and the best dang white cheddar queso on the block. There is so much darn FLAVOR in these babies…they make me weak in the knees. Plus! The great thing about taco night is that you can prep all sorts of awesome toppings and set them out for everyone to customize their taco creations. It’s so much fun. And oh so delicious. Because, really, so much of the excitement is in the toppings. I know I’m not the only one who feels that way.
One of the things I hear from readers is how they wish I would share more weeknight friendly meals that don’t require a lot of prep. A lot of the food on this blog, after all, is somewhat complicated. That comes from a place of only wanting to share stellar and exciting recipes with you all. Still looking for some weeknight ease? Check out this, this, this, this, and this. Lots of good (easy!) stuff there.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: this is NOT one of those easy recipes. BUT! I beg to differ. You see, I plan ahead and make a huge pot of this braised beef on a Sunday, when I know I’ll have time to tend to it, and then eat it over the course of several weeknights. Food that tastes this good (aka, sometimes the type of food that requires that extra effort) is EASY to eat over and over again. That’s how I justify these sorts of labor-intensive meals. I prefer to invest some substantial time in the kitchen over a weekend than scrambling each night after work to put something decent on the table. Because, let’s face it, cheese and crackers for dinner three nights in a row just isn’t going to cut it (although, it does happen quite frequently around here. Sigh).
And take it from this barely-getting-by-somedays mom, if I can do it, ANYONE can do it. It just takes a little planning! You can make ALL the components for these tacos ahead. Braise and shred the beef, make the slaw, and prep the queso all over the weekend. Store them in airtight containers in your fridge and warm the beef and queso in the microwave (or on the stovetop) when you are ready to serve! The only thing you have to worry about is not eating the entire pot of beef in one sitting…because this stuff is DANGEROUS.
Chuck roast is, hands down, my most favorite cut of beef to slow cook. Yes, short ribs are also awesome, but I like the slightly less gamey taste of chuck even more. Plus, you get a lot more for your buck with chuck (potential slogan there, perhaps?). It results in the most tender, flavorful, fall-apart meaty goodness…which is perfect for tacos. These cook in a mixture of aromatics, stock, and hearty beer until they are PACKED with flavor and shred with a spoon. So freaking delicious.
What goes well with beef? Cheddar! And horseradish! Hence, the horseradish-cheddar queso you see here. It’s the perfect combo of salty, cheesy, tangy, creamy, and make-your-nose-angry horseradish spice. It works fantastically with the beef in this recipe.
And because I’m a texture freak, I had to have a fresh crunch in these tacos. Radicchio has got to be one of the most beautiful veggies out there. Look at that color! Gorgeous. I have to admit, though, for a long time I was NOT a fan. It’s really bitter! I find, however, that when it hangs out in some vinegar and honey, all that bitterness sort of mellows out, and you’re left with one darn pretty slaw. It’s awesome in the texture department when we’re talking soft, shredded beef and cheese sauce. Am I right?
I know I am.
So yeah, Happy National Taco day! I’m thrilled that I had my act together enough to share these today.
Shall I reward myself with a taco? Who am I kidding? These are long gone. Looks like it’s going to be cheese and crackers for dinner again.
For the Beef:
- 1 (3-lb) chuck roast, cut into 2-inch cubes
- Flour, for dredging
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, smashed
- 1 cup low-sodium beef broth
- 2 cups stout beer (brown ale works well too)
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 bay leaf
- Few sprigs of thyme
For the Slaw:
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1 tablespoon honey
- ¼ head of green cabbage, thinly sliced
- 1 small radicchio cabbage, thinly sliced
- Salt and pepper, to taste
For the Queso:
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1 cup of milk
- 2 cups sharp cheddar, shredded
- 2–3 tablespoons prepared horseradish (to taste)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Flour or corn tortillas, warmed
- Sour cream or Greek yogurt
- Hot sauce
- Diced avocado
- Chopped scallions
- Chopped cilantro
For the Beef:
- Preheat the oven to 450°F. Place a large oven-safe pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
- Dry the cubed meat well using paper towels. Season with salt and pepper and dredge lightly with flour. Add the olive oil to the pot and then add the beef, in batches, browning on all sides. Remove the seared meat from the pot and set aside on a plate.
- Add the onions, carrots, celery, and garlic cloves to the pot and sauté until softened, about 10 minutes. Return the browned beef to the pot.
- Place the pot, uncovered, in the preheated oven for 4 minutes, turn the meat over, and then return to the oven for another 4 minutes. This helps create a crust on the meat.
- Remove the pot from oven and reduce the oven temperature to 325°F. Place the pot over medium-high heat on the stove and add in the broth. Scrape up the brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Then, add the beer, sugar, tomato paste, bay leaf, and thyme. Bring to a simmer.
- Cover the pot and place in the oven. Bake for 2-3 hours or until the meat is very tender and easily shreddable.
- Remove the beef from the sauce and shred. Place shredded beef in a bowl and add some of the reserved cooking liquid to keep it moist. Toss to combine and keep warm until you are ready to serve.
For the Slaw:
- In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, lime juice, and honey. Add in the cabbages and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Allow to sit for 15-20 minutes before serving, tossing occasionally.
For the Queso:
- Melt the butter in a small saucepan and whisk in the flour. Cook for a minute and then slowly whisk in the milk.
- Whisking almost constantly, cook the mixture until the milk thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon.
- Whisk in the cheddar until smooth. Whisk in the horseradish and season with a little salt and pepper. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed. Keep warm until ready to serve.
- In each tortilla, pile some of the shredded beef, followed by the slaw. Drizzle the queso over top and then garnish with desired toppings. Serve immediately while everything is still warm.