Click to enlarge - Savory shredded beef filling for your Southwest-themed dishes.


Shredded Beef Filling

At the supermarket, you grab a pound of ground beef, a packet of taco seasoning mix, some ready-made taco shells and some lettuce, cheese and tomato. Then you go home and make passable tacos! We have all done it. But have you noticed that most of the restaurants that serve tacos used shredded beef? Beef may be beef but they dont taste the same. Perhaps it has something to do with mouth texture.

A common cut of meat for shredded beef is the brisket. Once it was a less than desirable, cheap cut. But with the rising popularity of barbecue and fajitas, it has become a sometimes hard-to-find premium meat with prices to match. There are usually a lot of corned beef briskets but at a lot of markets you have to ask the butcher for the plain brisket they sometimes keep in the back If you cant find a brisket, or it is bigger than your pocket book, a small, lean roast can be used to make excellent shredded beef. For your next taco party, try the shredded beef instead of the ground beef. You just might find the added effort is well worth the while.

To make the shredded beef, you are braising the meat until the connective tissue breaks down and the meat fibers can be pulled apart. The longer the grain of the meat in your cut, the longer will be the fibers when you pull them apart. If you use a roast, cut across the grain before pulling apart with your forks or after, chop the pile of shredded meat.

Preparation Time :3 hours 30 minutes

Serves Makes 2 to 3 pounds of shredded beef filling

Life Experience Recipe

  • 2 to 3 pound beef brisket
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 green chiles, roasted and diced
  • teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3 tablespoons bacon drippings or vegetable oil
  • Stove top - Water or beef broth, as needed; pressure cooker - 2 cups beef broth
  1. Once, long ago, on an extended stay in Mexico, I have watched the seoras cook beef for shredding. Usually they only add a bit of salt. I like to add a bit more flavor and add the onion, chiles and spices. After the meat has cooked tender, the women pull it from the pot and fingertips calloused from taking cooked tortillas right off the hot griddle pull the meat apart and make the shredded beef. I use forks after letting the meat cool to a safe handling temperature.
  2. You can cook the brisket on the stove top to completion, or you can start it on the stove top and finish in the oven. If you have other things to do, finishing in the oven is an easy option. Trim off any fat from your brisket or roast. Place drippings or vegetable oil in a 4-quart pot (oven proof if need be) and heat over medium high heat. Salt and pepper the brisket or roast and sear on all sides in the hot oil. Add just enough water until the brisket just starts to float. When the water starts to boil, add the chiles, garlic, onion and oregano. Cover with lid, reduce heat and simmer (but do not boil) 2 to 2 hours (or until meat is very fork tender), add water as need to keep the brisket from resting on the bottom of the pot. (Or, bring to a boil on the stove top, cover and place in a 300F oven for 2 to 2 hours.)

  3. You can also use a pressure cooker. Add just enough oil to cover the bottom of the pressure cooker. Heat over medium-high heat. Add the meat and brown on all sides turning as needed. Remove from the heat. If you have a spacer, place it under the meat to keep the meat from touching the bottom of the pot when heating. No spacer? Dont worry! It will still come out very good. Add the vegetables and seasonings around the beef and add the beef broth.
  4. Cover and cook following your pressure cooker handbook instructions. After reaching cooking temperature cook for 20 minutes per pound. Allow to cool naturally, do not vent.

  5. Remove meat from pot and allow to cool to safe handling temperature. Set aside some of the cooking liquid. The shredded beef dries quickly in the open air. Use the reserved cooking liquid to moisten the meat as desired. The remaining cooking liquid can be used for soup or other uses as desired. Use 2 forks, one in each hand, as claws, to pull against the neat. It will take 5 to 10 minutes to shred a well-cooked brisket. If the fibers are too long, cut through the pile a few times with a knife. Use this meat in place of the fried ground beef to make your favorite southwestern-style dishes.

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Latest revision done July 2014
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