Austin is big on tacos. While the rest of the country has them relegated to lunch and dinner, we’ve made them a staple at breakfast and post-drunken noshings. Because we eat them so often, we’re always on the lookout for ways to change them up and take them back from certain fast-food joints and their dubious practices.
No weird ingredients or mislabeling here. We’ve got 100 percent Texas beef shoulder. A little bit of spice and an afternoon of cooking turns a hunk of meat into a tender, versatile dinner. It might not seem like much, but I love this cut of meat for how easy it is to turn into anything. Plus, a beef shoulder is big – you’ll have enough meat for a family dinner and then some, especially when paired with a crisp green salad.
Having too many ingredients causes competition for your taste buds. We don’t want competition when it comes to food. It’s confusing for your tongue to be assailed from all directions. We want the natural flavor of the beef to shine through. We want harmony. Rachel Berry flavors need not apply for a role in my kitchen.
I use the adobo sauce in both the beef and the avocado tomatillo sauce. You should be able to find this near the canned jalapenos in your grocery store. It’s labeled as Chipotle in Adobo Sauce. This recipe just uses the sauce, but save the chipotle for something else. If you’ve never cooked with adobo sauce before, be sure to try it before adding to the food. You may find you want more or less. I tend to keep the spice on the lower end because I’m cooking for a toddler. Heat should be an option, not a foregone conclusion.
- 1 beef arm shoulder, about 3 pounds
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 medium onion, sliced into half-moons
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons adobo sauce
- 2 tablespoons water
- 3 dashes liquid smoke
- Preheat oven to 275F.
- Put the olive oil in a dutch oven and heat over medium.
- Mix the paprika, cumin, salt, and pepper together and rub into beef shoulder on all sides. Put shoulder in dutch oven and sear on all sides. Remove from heat. Lift up shoulder and put onions underneath.
- Mix together the remaining ingredients. You should have a thick sauce. Pour half of it over the beef and reserve the rest. Cover beef and put in oven for about 2 hours.
- Remove from oven, turn beef over, and pour on remaining sauce. Cook an additional 2-3 hours, until beef shreds easily. Serve with the roasted onions and avocado tomatillo sauce.
Recipe: Avocado Tomatillo Sauce
- 4 tomatillos
- 1 avocado
- 1 lime
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon adobo sauce
- Remove husks from tomatillos and wash off any stray dirt. Put into a small saucepan filled with water and bring to a boil. Boil for about 5 minutes, until skin is easily pierced. (Be careful; the juices can spurt.) Drain and set aside.
- Halve avocado and scoop into a bowl or blender. Juice lime and add to avocado, then add salt. Add tomatillos and blend until smooth. Stir in adobo sauce, and adjust salt to taste.