We were in charge of a meal on a recent trip we took with extended family. The task was to come up with something easy to prepare for about twenty people with "local" grocery stores about forty five minutes away. We were staying in rustic cabins with indoor cook tops and also had the option of cooking on the coals. But the most important thing was after long days outdoors it had to taste delicious!
I'm not super experienced when it comes to camping meals (something I'd like to remedy), and initially considered marinating steaks and bringing them in a cooler. But grilling steaks for twenty with little equipment seemed too daunting. So I landed on something I could prepare ahead and freeze: slow cooked beef for making tacos.
My recipe for slow-cooked shredded chicken is one of my favorites. Super easy and flavorful. I came up with a great equivalent when you are in the mood for beef. We made both shredded chicken and shredded beef to suit different preferences but most of our crowd had one or two of each. It was a big success. So colorful and flavorful and so much fun to eat outdoors on a beautiful summer evening.
I made the shredded chicken and shredded beef in crock pots and froze them in ziploc bags the night before our trip. Packed in a cooler with ice they stayed frozen on the drive and then I thawed them in a refrigerator the night before the meal. It took less time than I had planned to warm up the meat, which we did in dutch ovens. We warmed taco sized corn and flour tortillas, chopped tomatoes and avocado, shredded lettuce and cooked some black beans with a bit of spicy salsa. We didn't forget shredded cheese and two kinds of salsa (Herdez Tomatillo and Salsa Casera Medium) Then we laid out the spread and let everyone make their own tacos.
I wish I were eating these again for dinner tonight! I know this will be a recipe we'll return to again and again.
Click through for the recipe.
SLOW COOKER SHREDDED BEEF TACOS
(this makes a very large batch--serve a crowd or freeze part to use later)
- 6 lbs boneless chuck roast (a few pieces to equal this weight)
- 6 teaspooons chili powder
- 3 teaspoons cumin
- 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
- 3 teaspoons salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
- 4 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large sweet onion, finely chopped (can substituted a white or yellow onion)
- 4 cloves minced garlic
- 2 cups beef broth
- 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
- 4 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, minced
- 1 cup salsa (I used Herdez Salsa Casera Medium--our favorite)
Mix together the first five ingredients to make a spice rub. Pat dry the beef and coat all sides generously with the spices.
Heat a large skillet on medium high heat. Add olive oil and make sure the bottom of the pan is coated. Sear the chuck roast on all sides to a dark golden brown. Transfer the meet to a slow cooker (crock pot). Leave the pan on the heat.
Sprinkle the meat in the slow cooker with the diced onion and garlic.
Add the beef broth to the skillet and deglaze it, scraping all the beef bits into the broth. Add the tomato paste, chipotle peppers, and garlic. Add a few sprinkles of salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer to reduce slightly, about five minutes.
Pour the pan sauce over the meat in the slow cooker. Cook on low heat for 8 hours.
Remove the meat from the slow cooker and shred. I find this easiest to do with a knife and fork on a cutting board. Return the shredded beef to the slow cooker and stir to incorporate all the sauce.
(You can cook this overnight and in the morning assemble enchiladas, if you'd like.)
To make tacos, serve with:
- Taco sized corn or flour tortillas, warmed on a skillet or griddle
- chopped tomatoes
- chopped avocado
- shredded Romaine lettuce
- shredded cheese (pre-shredded "Mexican mix" is a great way to go)
- black beans (I rinse and drain these, then warm in a pan with a bit of salsa, salt and pepper)
- your favorite salsa!