For the past few weeks, NomNomPaleo’s take on Mexican Braised Beef has been in heavy rotation on our dinner menu. Dave bought a dutch oven for short money through some finagling with coupons and it’s been amazing! Ours is a cheap, bright green, Food Network brand tank and it’s getting the job done. There are plenty of people who believe that a Le Creuset dutch oven is the only way to go/worth the money/etc., and maybe someday I will too, but right now we’re paying a mortgage and planning a wedding and I don’t have $260 for a single kitchen item, no matter how amazing it might be. So if you’re looking for an inexpensive dutch oven to tide you over until you win the lottery and build the kitchen of your dreams fully stocked with ornamental copper pots, All-Clad cookware, and enough Le Creuset cast iron to make your knees weak and your back sore, wait for Kohls to have a sale and couple it with some coupons.
That being said, get ready to have your socks knocked off with this beef recipe. I’ve paired it with a slightly modified version of Big Red Kitchen’s Cilantro Lime Cauliflower “Rice” and, if you haven’t seen her tutorial on how to rice cauliflower, I highly recommend it. I don’t have a blender so I did mine in batches with my food processor and it came out perfectly.
Mexican Braised Beef
Between 2-2.5 lbs beef stew meat cut into 1½-inch cubes
1 tablespoon chili powder
[Optional] 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (make sure your salsa isn’t spicy too or you’ll burn your mouth)
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon tomato paste*
6 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed (they’ll fall apart while cooking)
½ cup salsa (generic grocery-store brand or Whole Foods fancy roasted salsa–doesn’t make a difference)
½ cup chicken stock
[Optional] The original recipe calls for 1/2 teaspoon of fish sauce but I haven’t been able to find any locally that doesn’t contain sugar. I used coconut aminos instead but those can also be hard to find. If you don’t have either, don’t worry. Personally, I put both on my Amazon wedding registry and am crossing my fingers that someone understands how awesome that gift would be.
1. In a large bowl, toss the beef with the salt and chili powder.
2. Adjust your oven rack to the lower-middle and preheat your oven to 300′
3. Melt your oil/fat in your dutch oven on medium-high heat and toss in the onion slices, cook onions until translucent
4. Add tomato paste, mix and sizzle for a minute or two
5. Add garlic, salsa, and chicken stock and bring to a boil
6. Cover and move to the oven.
7. Leave it alone for 3 hours.
8. Remove from the oven and serve (I like to shred mine a little before serving)
*I buy tomato paste in cans and then freeze leftover tablespoons on parchment paper for later use. After the blobs of paste are frozen solid I toss them into a ziplock bag for longer-term storage.
In the last 20-30 min of the beef cooking, I start on my cauliflowered rice:
Cilantro-Lime Cauliflowered Rice
1 head of cauliflower, riced (do this a little ahead of time to let it drain thoroughly)
1/4 cup chicken broth or water (I like chicken broth if it’s on hand)
zest of 1 lime
juice of 1/2 lime
1/4 cup cilantro
salt and pepper to taste
[Optional] 1/2 tablespoon of grass-fed butter
1. Place cauliflower and broth/water in a medium-sized pan over medium heat
2. Cover and simmer for 15-18 minutes
3. Mix in the zest, juice, cilantro, salt, pepper, and optional butter and serve
I piled everything in a cabbage leaf topped with some Pico de Gallo and it worked out pretty well. Dave ate it like a burrito and my friend Emily ate it like a rice-bowl. Honestly, it was a long time spent in the kitchen but I enjoy the solitude of cooking and it makes a versatile leftover since it reheats well and is delicious in omelettes. This meal can also be made with boneless country-style pork ribs cut into cubes and turns into a juicy pulled-pork-esque meal.