Pulled beef: A recipe
I have been to Panchos Mexican restaurant, where they make the best shredded beef chimichanga. Can you please advise how to make the shredded beef please? Is it shredded before or after cooking? What equipment is used to shred the beef?
Many thanks, Trish
Pulled beef and pork would seem to be the "now" zeitgeist ingredients. Today in fact I had to eat my way through a truck-load of pulled pork for a possible new dish for Gourmet Burger Kitchen here in London.
For those who are wondering what I'm writing about, this term refers to meat, generally secondary cuts like shin, shoulder or leg, which have been slowly cooked (a combination of braised and roasted in most cases) until very tender and then while still warm, pulled apart into shreds.
This is then used as a filling for sandwiches, burger buns, toasted brioche and tortillas, or piled (always in generous proportions) on to whatever takes your fancy from rice and noodles to corn chips and steamed sweet potato. Last year my Covent Garden restaurant Kopapa took part in the Soho Food Festival, in which we served pulled pork (belly meat) topped with a chocolate mole sauce enriched with roasted pumpkin seeds and chillied chocolate - it was truly delicious I do have to say!
Back to the chimichanga ... In the US it's likely your pulled beef will be from the "chuck", in the UK it'll be shoulder braising steak.
Take a large piece of meat with excess fat removed, at least 1.5kg, and brown it all over in vegetable oil. Place in a casserole dish with a cup of boiling water, put a tight fitting lid on and cook at 200C for 30 minutes.
Mix together a cup of beef stock, a few tablespoons vinegar (balsamic, red wine or cider), as much powdered chilli as you like (sweet smoked paprika is great to use as well as regular ground chilli), a teaspoon of toasted cumin seeds, half a cinnamon stick and a few cloves of peeled garlic, thinly sliced.
Turn the beef over and pour this on top. Put the lid back on and reduce the temperature to 170C and cook a further 2½ - 3½ hours until the meat is literally falling apart.
Take the lid off the casserole, turn the meat once more and continue to cook until the liquor has reduced to less than half a cup - basting it every 10 minutes. Take from the oven and leave to cool until you can easily handle the meat then pull it apart using two forks to tear it into shreds.
Mix the braising liquor back into the meat, discarding the cinnamon, and there you have it - pulled / shredded beef. A crock-pot is also an excellent way to cook the meat once it has been browned initially.
As for the next step, what is a chimichanga?
It is basically a flour tortilla stuffed with whatever takes your fancy from the Mexican kitchen, rolled like a spring roll, and deep-fried.
Using pulled meat that you've mixed with cooked kidney beans that have been mashed with a little kumara and coriander (and try adding some coarse grated cheddar style cheese as well) is a really good moreish snack.
Pulled lamb shoulder mixed with green chilli, mint and feta is a terrific spring-roll filling. The key is slow cooking, not too fatty, and well seasoned.
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