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Help, please...Méxican Pulled Beef

Carolina QCarolina Q Posts: 7,396
edited November -1 in EggHead Forum
Well, it was a fun experiment anyway. I would really love to be able to prepare some Méxican dishes and since so many of them (tacos, burritos, chimichangas, etc.) seem to be based on pulled beef, I thought I'd give it a try. So, I bought a 2.5 lb chuck roast, salted it and seared it on the mini and then put it on the large in a CI DO (uncovered) with the following:

Beef stock
1 Tbls each of Méxican oregano, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, ground coriander and ground cumin.
2 ancho and 2 guajillo chilis, soaked in hot water, seeded and chopped.
1 stick cinnamon (not sure why).

Braised on the large at 350° for about 2 hours, then added another Tbls of salt (cuz the liquid taste test was bland), topped off with water and put the lid on the DO. Cooked for another 2 hours. When I checked it then, it was pullable, so I did.

It doesn't taste bad, it just doesn't taste much! I am going to use some of it for tacos shortly and am wondering if there is anything I can do to salvage this before I put it on the taco shells. Add some chili powder maybe?

Here's what it looked like mid cook... looks better than it tastes!

5005461017_513b46a90d_b.jpg

Suggestions on how to salvage this as well as what to do next time will be much appreciated! So far, Old El Paso and ground beef is better - not to mention quicker and easier!! And that just ain't right!!

Thanks, boys and girls!!
Michael 
Central Connecticut 

"Avoid at all costs that vile spew you see rotting in oil in screwtop jars. Too lazy to peel fresh? You don't deserve to eat garlic." Bourdain

Comments

  • By no means am I an expert, but I am wondering if you used to much water and it boiled more than it cooked. I know boiled meat is not going to have the flavor as broiled or grilled. That is just a thought, it may not be that at all. It looks pretty good in the picture.
  • thirdeyethirdeye Posts: 7,428
    009ce9af.jpg

    Well, for Mexi-beef (or pork) you do need to season your pulled meat heavily, but your amounts look like a good start.... First question, were all your spices fresh? This makes a big difference is something braised.

    I would have used plenty of fresh garlic, then some garlic powder as needed. Was your chili powder a blend or a straight one? I would have used several different kinds. What kind of stock did you use for your braising liquid? I'm also thinking 350° was too high, braising is just above boiling temps, so you might have cooked off some of the flavor.
    Happy Trails
    ~thirdeye~

    Barbecue is not rocket surgery
  • FluffybFluffyb Posts: 1,815
    I am thinking maybe it should have been covered and maybe a fresh chili thrown in to the mix. And I think Thirdeye is right about the temp being a little lower. And as he says also, LOTS of garlic. I just love shredded beef tacos.
  • BeliBeli Posts: 10,751
    Michael some of us like adding most of the taste (sauce or spices) at the end since the pulled meat requires a long cook most of the time & flavours tend to evaporate a bit....just an idea.
  • Carolina QCarolina Q Posts: 7,396
    thirdeye wrote:
    Well, for Mexi-beef (or pork) you do need to season your pulled meat heavily, but your amounts look like a good start.... First question, were all your spices fresh? This makes a big difference is something braised.

    I would have used plenty of fresh garlic, then some garlic powder as needed. Was your chili powder a blend or a straight one? I would have used several different kinds. What kind of stock did you use for your braising liquid? I'm also thinking 350° was too high, braising is just above boiling temps, so you might have cooked off some of the flavor.

    Thanks! First of all, I have never done this before, so that's my excuse! :lol:

    I hardly seasoned the meat at all. Salted, then seared. I put all the seasonings in the stock. Most of my seasonings were just grocery store stuff/ No fresh garlic, though I had some - was just lazy so I used powder. The only "good" stuff I used was the fresh made chili powder I just got from another forum member. Multiple chilis in it.

    For the first half of the cook, it was barely simmering. When I put the lid on the DO (which is also when I added the water), it got considerably more "active" under the hood!!

    Stock was 100% Kitchen Basics beef stock (the whole box). Halfway thru, I added about that much water.
    Michael 
    Central Connecticut 

    "Avoid at all costs that vile spew you see rotting in oil in screwtop jars. Too lazy to peel fresh? You don't deserve to eat garlic." Bourdain
  • Carolina QCarolina Q Posts: 7,396
    :) Well, if anyone should know, it would be you, my friend!

    I just finished eating and it was disappointing. I did add some chili powder before I warmed it, but it still wasn't very good.
    Michael 
    Central Connecticut 

    "Avoid at all costs that vile spew you see rotting in oil in screwtop jars. Too lazy to peel fresh? You don't deserve to eat garlic." Bourdain
  • Carolina QCarolina Q Posts: 7,396
    Got it. Next time, lots of garlic, lower temp. Thanks!!
    Michael 
    Central Connecticut 

    "Avoid at all costs that vile spew you see rotting in oil in screwtop jars. Too lazy to peel fresh? You don't deserve to eat garlic." Bourdain
  • fire eggerfire egger Posts: 1,124
    Hey Michael,
    here's a cook I posted a while back, I use smoked chuck, then braise at the very end.http://www.eggheadforum.com/index.php?option=com_simpleboard&func=view&id=965838&catid=1
  • Carolina QCarolina Q Posts: 7,396
    Wow! A whole different process! Thanks!
    Michael 
    Central Connecticut 

    "Avoid at all costs that vile spew you see rotting in oil in screwtop jars. Too lazy to peel fresh? You don't deserve to eat garlic." Bourdain
  • Michael,

    Mexican oregano, epazote, garlic, cumin, onions in the beef broth and some other vegetables. Chipoltle in adobo works. Tons of cilantro and a bit of turbinado sugar.

    Steve

    Steve 

    Caledon, ON

     

  • Carolina QCarolina Q Posts: 7,396
    Well, I've at least HEARD of all those things. Except epazote. Had to look that one up. I know I've never seen it anywhere!
    Michael 
    Central Connecticut 

    "Avoid at all costs that vile spew you see rotting in oil in screwtop jars. Too lazy to peel fresh? You don't deserve to eat garlic." Bourdain
  • I can get it in markets here. We don't have a large Hispanic population.

    Steve

    Steve 

    Caledon, ON

     

  • Carolina QCarolina Q Posts: 7,396
    Cool. I'll be right there. :lol:
    Michael 
    Central Connecticut 

    "Avoid at all costs that vile spew you see rotting in oil in screwtop jars. Too lazy to peel fresh? You don't deserve to eat garlic." Bourdain
  • thirdeyethirdeye Posts: 7,428
    Okay, thanks for the answers, I think you just needed to adjust the order of your cook, and the dumps of seasonings.

    DSC01110a.jpg

    Generally the meats are braised to the pulling point with basic seasonings, the liquids are poured off and reserved, then the majority of the seasonings go onto the pulled meat and get mixed in. Some hot liquid is returned to the pot and the reduction begins. This intensifies the flavors, and makes the meat slightly sticky. Additional liquid is added as needed and cooked down until the meat is ready for whatever dish you are using it in.

    Meat for softshell or hard tacos or enchiladas may only need seasoned and a little liquid added and cooked a few minutes. I like to add fresh chopped onion to taco meat to keep it really moist. Burrito meat may benefit from a little more reduction, meat for tamales might undergo several reductions (and may need additional seasonings as the masa tends to dull some flavors)

    2e05970d.jpg
    Happy Trails
    ~thirdeye~

    Barbecue is not rocket surgery
  • Carolina QCarolina Q Posts: 7,396
    Awesome!!! Yours looks SOOO much better than mine! :) Prob'ly tastes better too! I'll give it another try... after I try to salvage what's left of what I already cooked. :)
    Michael 
    Central Connecticut 

    "Avoid at all costs that vile spew you see rotting in oil in screwtop jars. Too lazy to peel fresh? You don't deserve to eat garlic." Bourdain
  • That's pretty similar to the recipe I use, but there are some key process differences.

    First, I brown the meat in the dutch oven, rather than on the grill grate. Fond is king.

    Second, toss the onion and garlic powder, and use fresh onion and garlic. After browning the meat and setting it aside, sweat the onion and garlic in the dutch oven, scraping up the brown bits in the bottom of the pan.

    Third, when you return the beef to the pan, make sure you add in the juices that have come out while it was resting.

    Fourth, and most important, once your beef is tender and pullable, remove it from the pot, and then reduce the liquid in the pot all the way down to a thick sludge. Then return the pulled beef to the sludge, and mix it all in. That way, all that wonderful flavor in the broth still stays in the dish.

    Now, because you are reducing that broth down to a sludge, you've got to make sure you don't over-salt it at the beginning. It's important to season in the first two steps. Salt the meat before you sear it, and season the onions, while they're sweating, but after that, be sparing with the salt. When you add the spices and the broth, it might taste a little bland, but it will balance out, when you've boiled off all the water. You can always add more salt when the dish is finished if it needs more, but you can't take salt out, if you've over-seasoned.

    As the others have mentioned, make sure your herbs and spices are fresh. 2 year old chili powder doesn't really do the trick, and even 6 month old oregano is basically paper. And you can always add stuff...fresh tomatoes or tomato paste, fresh chiles, etc.
  • MarvinMarvin Posts: 515
    This answer will not help with your present situation, but in future: we make pulled beef by cooking the chuck just like a pork but. At 200 internal, take off the roast; let it rest awhile in foil and a cooler; then pull and mix with whatever BBQ flavors you like. Its a simple approach and works every time.
  • Carolina QCarolina Q Posts: 7,396
    Thanks, guys. Good info! I have already bookmarked this thread for the next time I try this cook.

    For now, I'm going to throw the shredded beef in a large sauté pan with some water and all the same spices, plus fresh garlic and onions, and let it simmer for a while. Maybe I can get some flavor out of this batch after all.

    Regardless, Chimichangas tonight! :)
    Michael 
    Central Connecticut 

    "Avoid at all costs that vile spew you see rotting in oil in screwtop jars. Too lazy to peel fresh? You don't deserve to eat garlic." Bourdain
  • Carolina QCarolina Q Posts: 7,396
    Not bad. :) Chimichangas are awesome - even if you screw up the first time! Much better tonight than last night. Simmered in a bit of water with all the original spices, FRESH garlic and onions. Chopped up a couple more chiles too.

    Thanks again for everyone's suggestions. Next time will be better still!
    Michael 
    Central Connecticut 

    "Avoid at all costs that vile spew you see rotting in oil in screwtop jars. Too lazy to peel fresh? You don't deserve to eat garlic." Bourdain
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