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just around the corner

Recipe: machaca (mexican shredded beef)

It feels like spring. It was so hot while I was shooting Wednesday afternoon, that I opened the deck door to let some cool air in. COOL air, not cold air. The mercury read 45°F on our deck with nary a cloud in the sky, the wind abating for a day. It felt really nice. I called to Jeremy in the office and asked him to help me carry Kaweah out to the deck. Kaweah spends a good deal of time in her doggy bed because she gets so tuckered out from standing or walking these days.

Her legs are getting to the point where sometimes she doesn’t have the strength to crawl into her bed on her own and we’ll find her with the front half in the bed and the back half hanging out on the rug or the back legs in some tangled spaghetti-like mess. She always greets us with an expression, “Oh hey, how’s it going?” We rearrange her legs into a comfortable position several times a day (and night). She can’t really feel pain when her legs are splayed or twisted in odd directions, we just don’t want her to cut off circulation and do further damage to them.

Because it can be quite an ordeal for her to get out of bed and move elsewhere (like out of the sun or into the office), sometimes we pick the bed up with Kaweah in it. The first time we did that a few weeks ago, she was all, “Whoa… what the what?” But now she’s used to it and she rather likes it. Kaweah takes the opportunity to look around (it’s a new and exciting vantage for her) and almost has an air of “Bring me thither!” We set her down on the deck in the sun with a good view of the neighborhood. She was comfortable and distracted by all of the activity around her: dogs, birds, cars, neighbors. As long as she’s happy.

my mom’s orchid (in my “care”) is blooming

Of course, we all know that this warm spell is temporary. Colorado gets her best storms in March and I welcome our powder overlords! Yet spring and even summer have beckoned to me in flashes: spring backcountry skiing, foraging, travel, backpacking, and my summer rituals of jamming, canning, and roasting green chiles to freeze for winter. I always hoard green chiles in August because I fear running out mid-winter. The Hatch Chile Store in Hatch, New Mexico recently shipped me some of their frozen roasted green chiles to try. Normally product offers go straight to my spam folder, because I hate shills and I respect my readership. But I have blogged several green chile recipes in the past and the real deal can be hard to source. I thought it was a good opportunity to find a green chile shipper that I could recommend to others since so many have asked.

5 pounds of medium heat big jims

I requested medium heat whole green chiles. They offer mild, medium, hot, extra-hot, whole, diced, frozen, and fresh (seasonal). The chiles are farmed in Hatch, harvested, shipped fresh or roasted, peeled, diced or left whole, and shipped frozen. Having roasted and peeled my own chiles as well as purchased many pounds of roasted chiles in New Mexico and in southern Colorado, these are by far the most beautiful and best quality specimens I have ever enjoyed. Big Jims (the variety I received) are large, meaty, sweet, and perfect for chile rellenos. After our fix of chile rellenos, I saved two chiles for another recipe I’ve been meaning to try: machaca.

chiles, garlic, lime, tomatoes, salt, onion, bouillon, beef chuck, pepper, oil

season the beef with salt and pepper

sear the beef on all sides

Machaca is Mexican shredded beef. Traditionally, the dish was made from dried beef or pork that was rehydrated and pounded to make it tender. Now that we have refrigeration, you can skip the step of drying the meat. You can cook the beef conventionally on the stove top, or do as I did and pressure cook it. The goal is to achieve the “falling apart” tender state.

dice the onion and mince the garlic

add beef broth to the meat, half the onion, and half the garlic

While the beef cooks, prep the rest of the ingredients. If you don’t have fresh or frozen roasted green chiles (you can only get fresh in August/September), you can certainly buy canned green chiles at the store. But I’ll tell you what… canned green chiles are about the same as adding nothing. They have zero flavor compared to fresh or frozen and the only thing they really add is a touch of color. Once the beef is done, reserve the liquid and shred the meat with your hands, two forks, or a food processor fitted with the plastic dough blade. During this step, I also remove as much fat and connective tissue as I can from the beef

dice the green chiles

the beef is ready when it is falling-apart tender

shred the beef

With the remaining ingredients prepped, you’re almost done making the machaca. I recommend cooking the meat in something other than a non-stick pan – either in cast-iron, stainless steel, or enameled cookware. You want something that will give you good browning (but not burning) when you cook the beef a second time. The meat will stick to the bottom of the pan, so have a good spatula handy to scrape it up.

onions, shredded beef, chiles, tomatoes, garlic, lime juice, cooking liquid

add the shredded beef to sautéed onion and garlic

let the beef brown and periodically scrape the meat from the bottom of the pan

add the chiles, tomatoes, lime juice, and cooking liquid

When almost all of the liquid has cooked off, but the beef is still moist, you are done. Machaca is a versatile filling that is great in tacos, burritos, chimichangas, enchiladas, quesadillas, sopaipillas, with beans and rice, you name it. The flavor is deeply satisfying and the beef is tender without being wimpy. Load it up with fresh accompaniments, and you’ve got yourself a party.

lovely, flavorful machaca

my happy meal

Full disclosure: The Hatch Chile Store sent me 5 lbs. of frozen roasted whole green chiles to try without any obligation on my part.

Machaca (Mexican Shredded Beef)
[print recipe]
from The Border Cookbook

3 lbs. boneless shoulder beef chuck roast
salt for seasoning
pepper for seasoning
4 tbsps bacon drippings or vegetable oil
1 cup beef stock
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup water (if using pressure cooker)
3 small tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup (2 large) roasted green chiles, peeled, seeded, and diced
1 tbsp fresh lime juice

Season the beef on all sides with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons of the fat over high heat in your pressure cooker or large pot. Sear the meat on all sides until browned. Reduce the heat to low and pour the beef stock over the meat. Add half of the onion and half of the garlic.

If using a pressure cooker: Pour another 1/2 cup of water into the pot. Cover and seal the pressure cooker and set it to high. Increase the heat to high. When pressure is reached, let cook for 50 minutes (1 hour at 8500 ft.), then turn off the heat and let the pressure cooker decompress (natural release).

If cooking on conventional stove: Cover the pot with a lid and simmer for 75 minutes or until tender and falling apart.

Remove the meat and reserve the cooking liquid. Shred the beef with your fingers, two forks, or a food processor fitted with a plastic dough blade. I like to discard the excess fat and connective tissue during this process. In a pan or skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of fat over medium heat and sauté the rest of the onion and garlic until it becomes soft. Add the meat and sauté until well-browned. This takes about 10-12 minutes. Scrape the bottom of the pan every minute or so to allow the beef to brown and crisp in places, but not burn. Stir in the cooking liquid, tomatoes, chiles, and lime juice. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 25 minutes until most of the liquid is gone, but the beef is still moist. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Makes about 6 cups of shredded beef.

more goodness from the use real butter archives

carne adovada beer chicken green chile enchiladas breakfast torta albóndigas (mexican meatball) soup

31 nibbles at “just around the corner”

  1. Kristin says:

    The machaca sounds like a tasty & satisfying winter meal. You had me laughing through tears with the Kaweah update. We have been known to drag our cats along the path of the sun when they’re sleeping in or on something that they can’t move with them. They are just spoiled, but Kaweah lives with some very thoughtful & loving people.

  2. Ashton says:

    Can’t wait to try this recipe! We have guests coming Sunday and I may need to swap my original dinner plans for this. And Kaweah, every time I read your stories about her it brings me back to my last old lab. When ours started having trouble walking every morning we’d use a sling to get her upstairs to the main living area. All that mattered to her was that she nearby us and could lay with the breeze of an open window and watch the world go by. There is nothing like the love inspired by an old dog.

  3. Kathya says:

    This makes me so hungry. Kisses for Kaweah. XO

  4. Stephus @ stephsapartmentkitchen says:

    Ohhhhhh there’s nothing I love more than Mexican food during the winter to brighten up my dreary East Coast slushy days.

    Your posts about Kaweah warm my heart. You two are such good parents to her. What a lucky pup to have you in her life.

  5. Perez says:

    Looks good. For me, machaca requires the drying, and I would call this carne deshebrada or barbacoa. But I know different folks use different names. Honestly, I’m never sure whether the names my family uses for stuff are the widely-used names, unique to El Paso, or to our family in particular. I was recently reading about a kind of sweet bread I’ve always called pan de huevo that apparently everyone else calls conchas.

    Bolivians make a good dried beef called charque – generally served still dried rather than re-constituted like machaca usually is.

  6. angelitakarmalita says:

    Exactly what I want to eat RIGHT NOW… it’s still pretty cold here in NOVA, about 32 degrees (I know, not THAT cold, but for me, it’s down right subZERO!), and this looks amazing. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that Hatch Chilies actually come in a variety of heat levels (acgricultural product and all, go figure). My sister and I were like, “you take a bite. no YOU take a bite” you could literally smell the heat coming off these buggers as we were roasting them on the grill. Thank goodness were were doing this outdoors, or that could have been a problem. Anyway, I’m lucky enough to buy ’em fresh once a year here in NOVA, and I typically stock up. And this years freezer stash is pretty potent! Guess who’s making machaca this weekend? uh, this girl!!!

    My heart aches with each post about Kaweah’s aging. And being carried about these days is just what she deserves! you guys are great doggy parents… and she knows it too. xoxo.

  7. Judy says:

    Love anything with green chiles!

    By the way, if you think Kaweah would benefit from a doggie wheel chair, let me know, and I could ship the one I have. I bought it for my dearly departed German Shepherd, so now it needs a new home. It’s a large dog size (Rottweiler/GS).

  8. swan says:

    continue to take excellent care of your girl. your posts are brilliant!

    again, she is so lucky to have you and J in her lives.

    and jen, you are amazing!!!!

  9. Jasline @ Foodie Baker says:

    Your dog is so loved! She’s so lucky to have such great owners. The machaca looks delicious!

  10. Linda says:

    Living here south of San Diego, Machaca is a-maz-ing, but yours looks nummy, and I swear I can smell it from here! Give that sweet girl a kiss and hug from me. I think of our Rowdy every time you post about her.

    xo Linda

  11. Cristina says:

    Very similar to what they do in Venezuela to prepare their “carne mechada” (shredded beef) except for the chilis. Pabellon Criollo (translates into Country Flag) is their national dish. It consists of the carne mechada, arroz (white rice), maduro (fried ripe plantain) and caraotas negras (black beans). Sometimes they also add a slice of queso blanco (soft white cheese, very much like the Mexican white cheese). It is delicious! I will definitely try your Machaca. Thanks for all your wonderful recipes, hope Kaweah is doing well.

  12. Brianne says:

    Oooh, something else for us to try with our green chiles! My husband’s parents send him about 10 lbs from Albuquerque every fall. We try not to mow through them too quickly, but we haven’t had any in a while, so…this has got to happen.

    Keep it up, Kaweah!

  13. Denise Dewire says:

    Recipe sounds delicious. Love those Hatch chiles! Beautiful Orchid. XXOO to Kaweah!

  14. Pey-Lih says:

    Hmmm…..I can smell the beef from the pictures! It’s raining here in socal, but I cannot complain- the hillside needs it desperately. You gave me an idea for dinner tonight with the hubster buster.

  15. Mikki B. says:

    Going over what you wrote about your dear dog reminds me of a book I recently finished: “The Art of Racing in the Rain” by Garth Stein. This particular story is narrated by a dog, and it’s lovely. If you’re looking for a light read, give it a try. I was hesitant, as I don’t consider myself the kind of gal to read dog books, but I’m mighty glad I did. Just like good dogs, this book has heart.

  16. jill says:

    As always, you make everything look delicious and simple!
    I bet Kaweah now feels like this is a chariot ride! You are such good dog parents. xoxo

  17. Josie P says:

    Picked up a roast today. I have sworn that I won’t buy any more meat because I am trying to use up food in my freezer, but this sounded so good that I have to try it.

    Love hearing about Kaweah. That is so much a devoted pet owner that you help her out by moving her in her bed. I have a young cat that was rescued when he was only about a week old and we bottle fed him. Because he ate a fleece blanket he had to have surgery when he was a year old and on a feeding tube for 2 months after. Since then he has had off and on health problems and has a delicate stomach. I sleep with a bowl of dry cat food so he can eat whenever he wants during the night. I have to shove it under the covers when he is done eating because the other cats think his food is better. I feel him staring at me during the night and drag the bowl out and he munches and then take a little snooze. We do what we have to do.

  18. Judi V says:

    I just have to thank you; I made this recipe and your Mexican red rice for dinner this evening and it was FANTASTIC!!! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!

  19. Josie P says:

    Made this the other day and it is wonderful. Will definitely make again.

  20. Jen says:

    This is definitely something that I will be making soon! And I was intrigued by part of your directions–to use the plastic dough blade of a processor to shred the beef. Awesome! I never make dough in my processor (except pie crust and for that I use the regular blade) so that plastic thingy is just floating around in my cabinets, being useless. No more!

  21. jenyu says:

    Thanks for all of the good doggie wishes. They must be working because Kaweah is doing quite well lately! :) xo

    Judy – you are so sweet. Thanks for offering, but Kaweah is okay without the wheel chair. It’s not just her hind legs. Everything seems to be slowly breaking down. But she’s still kicking! xo

    Cristina – oh boy, I wish I could have a plate of maduro to go with this!! :)

    Mikki – thanks for the rec. I will keep that in mind!

    Josie – awww, love to that sweet baby kitty xo

  22. Cinco de Mayo Round-Up | Tara's Multicultural Table says:

    […] Chalupas Poblanas (Thick Tortillas Fried with Salsa) Unfried Ice Cream Homemade Corn Tortillas Machaca (Mexican Shredded Beef) Paletas (Mexican Popsicles) Grilled Churros with Nutella […]

  23. Samantha says:

    Had this tonight and it was wonderful. Thank you for the recipe. It will be a staple in our family meals.

  24. Tim says:

    Moved back to semi-rural Indiana after almost 30 years in Phoenix and boy, did I miss my machaca. Some Mexican restaurants here serve shredded beef, but none of them have heard of “machaca.” I tried this recipe and it was almost like being back in Phoenix, eating a machaca quesadilla at Oaxaca or the Matador. Wonderful recipe! Thank you so much.

  25. sylviagzz says:

    This is called carne deshebrada….

    Machaca is actually made out of a salted and dried beef. Something like a jerky.

  26. Lydia says:

    Sorry about your pooch. This sounds good, but it isn’t machaca, which is dried, cured beef that has been pulverized. Makes awesome scrambled eggs. Best comes from Nuevo Leon.

  27. Yvette says:

    The way I was taught to make the machaca was to shred the beef and re-fry it in butter adding onion, minced garlic, sliced bell peppers, diced tomatoes, and New Mexico X-hot Chili shredded, pinch of comino, salt and pepper to taste. First brown sauté meat on medium heat in butters, add remaining ingredients and lower flame to simmer. Stir ever five minutes. It’s done when bell peppers and onions are soft. If liquid starts to evaporate add more butter.

    Can also be served with the addition of eggs!

  28. Nikki says:

    Well this is unfortunate. Followed this recipe with stove top directions and my meat is tough?! I’d really like to make this successfully. Can you please help?

  29. jenyu says:

    Nikki – The instructions for stove top say to simmer for 75 minutes or until meat is tender and falling apart. I’m assuming you cooked for 75 minutes rather than “tender and falling apart”? If so, then cover it up and continue to simmer until the meat is “tender and falling apart”. Sometimes it can take beef (depending on the cut) a couple of hours or more to get it to the stage where the tough connective tissues break down. That’s why I prefer using a pressure cooker, but it should eventually get there on the stove top, too. Give it more time (and add more liquid/water if the liquid is getting low).

  30. Nikki says:

    Thanks so much! I may have to invest in a pressure cooker! I’m trying to be a better cook! Lol

  31. Jon says:

    Great recipe. I did change one item. I used 4 strips of bacon in the pot while simmering the beef. The beef then had a somewhat sweet flavor.
    I would highly recommend this recipe. Well. I already have…

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