Thursday, November 17, 2011

Tortilla Epiphanies and The Worlds Easiest Shredded Beef Tacos

Sometimes I will be perusing the aisles of Costco, eye the Pico, and a smile will appear across my face.  This means that I have had a wonderful idea that the time is right for Shredded Beef Taco Night.  This glorious occasion was invented while I was in college and is therefore inherently an easy meal to prepare.  It is so good, that I can attribute it as one of the reasons my husband fell in love with me and decided I should be his girl forever.  Because we all know that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach.  This is especially true with my hubby.

Anyhoo, tonight was not only another amazing night of shredded beef goodness, but also proved to be a momentous occasion in the history of this meal. A day that we will all look back on as the day Nicole made her first homemade tortillas and never bought packaged ones again.

So here are my recipes for an epic (I hope I am not giving this too much hype) and easy shredded beef taco night......

Please note, that preparing this meal my way means owning two crock pots, one big one, and a little one.    If you don't have two, then you can just simmer the beans on the stove according to the package directions.

In order of preparation...

Pinto Beans (start this the night before):
1 bag of dried pinto beans, rinsed and picked through
1 small crock pot (about an 8 c. capacity)
whatever else you like to put in your beans (jalapeno, onion, garlic, pepper, limes, etc.)

Soak the beans in the crock pot over night.  In the morning, empty out the soaking water, rinse the beans,  and add in 6 cups of new water and salt according to preference.  Cook on low until dinner (about 8-9 hours).

Note: I usually also add in dried onion and garlic and squeeze in two limes.  I bet a bay leaf would also add some good flavor and maybe even some chili powder or cumin.  The idea is to put in whatever you want to flavor your beans.  I usually also add in some cilantro just before serving.

Shredded Beef:
1 chuck roast (or pork shoulder) with extra fat trimmed off
1 big container (or two small ones) of pico de gallo (I really like the pico from Costco, but you can make your own if you are feeling like an over achiever)

In the morning, throw the chuck roast in a crock pot (don't literally throw it unless you are having a bad morning) and dump the pico on top.  Cook on high until dinner (about 8-9 hours).  Pull the roast out and shred it with two forks just before serving.

Corn Tortillas:
Now for the best part, Tortillas.  I usually buy my tortillas from the store.  What a foolish mistake!  It is ridiculous how easy it is to make corn tortillas and how much better they taste than store bought.  Here is the ridiculously easy recipe:

2 c. masa harina (corn flour)
1 1/2 c. hot water (This amount depends on where you live, drier climates may need more water)
1 lime (zested and juiced)
1/2 t. salt

Mix all of the ingredients together in a medium sized bowl (The dough should be firm springy and not dry or sticky), cover and let rest for one hour.  Separate the dough into 12 equal sized balls.  Place each ball between two pieces of wax paper or parchment sprayed with pam.  Roll the dough out into 6 inch circles.  I used 1/8 inch evendough bands on my roller to make sure I did it right.

Once all the dough is rolled out, cook each tortilla for about a minute on each side in a pan preheated on med-high (cast iron is best, but I used an enamel pan and it worked just fine).  Keep tortillas in an aluminum foil pouch until ready to eat.  To make an aluminum foil pouch, take one big piece of aluminum foil and fold it in half and then fold in the sides a little bit :)

My husband loves rice flavored with lime.  I am not much of a rice person, but I make it to make him happy.  So for the rice, make as much brown rice as you might need for your family following the instructions on the box adding in some dried garlic and onion with the cooking liquid.  At the fluff with a fork stage, add in some lime zest, lime juice, and chopped cilantro.  Yummy!

Now for the condiments.  Obviously, you are going to put whatever it is you like on your taco, on your taco.  But here are some suggestions to keep it low-cal and still yummy:

1. Substitute sour cream for greek yogurt (believe me, you wont even miss the sour cream)
2. Substitute the cheese with avocado or guacamole
3. Dabble on some salsa verde
4. Sprinkle chopped cilantro on that baby
4. Add a squeeze of lime on top

This meal clocks in around 700 calories (two tacos).

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