Beef Picadillo Tacos with Chipotle Chiles

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Stewed and shredded beef pot roast makes a classic filling for soft corn tortillas, especially when tricked out with chipotle chiles, toasted almonds, and raisins. Arrange all garnishes and a salsa or two in bowls so that diners can outfit their tacos as they like. Serve tacos with a salad of oranges, avocados, and jicama.

Cooking Method:
Slow-Cooking Slow-Cooking
Prep Time :
2 hr 30 min - 3 hr 0 min
Servings :
  • Ingredients
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    Vegetable oil or lard
    1 1/2 lb. trimmed Lobels Wrangler(TM) USDA Prime Pot Roast , cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
    1 medium white onion, peeled and cut lengthwise into 4 wedges, plus 2/3 cup finely chopped white onion for garnish
    6 large garlic cloves, peeled
    2 bay leaves
    Kosher Salt
    8 medium canned tomatoes (about 3/4 of a 28-ounce can)
    1/2 cup slivered or coarsely crushed skinless almonds
    3 to 4 medium chipotle chiles in adobo (from a 7-ounce can), stemmed and seeded (see Tips)
    1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
    1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
    1/2 cup raisins
    Soft corn tortillas, warmed (see Tips)
    Tomatillo Salsa
    Salsa Mexicana
    Fresh cilantro leaves
    Lime wedges
    2 ounces Cotija cheese (or similar aged Mexican cheese), or 1 1/2 ounces Pecorino Romano, finely grated (about 6 tablespoons) (optional)


    Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a wide 10- to 12-quart pot over medium-high heat. When it begins to smoke, add the beef and brown very well on at least two sides, 4-6 minutes per side. Add 5 cups of water and scrape the bottom of the pot to loosen any browned bits. Add the onion wedges, garlic, bay leaves, and 2 teaspoons salt and bring just to a simmer. Skim the liquid and reduce the heat to medium-low and partially cover; gently simmer the mixture until tender, about 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Let the beef sit in its liquid, uncovered, until cool enough to handle.
    Meanwhile, preheat the broiler. Lay the tomatoes on a rimmed baking sheet double-lined with foil. Drizzle with a few tablespoons of oil. Broil on both sides (drizzling the second side with oil as well) until the tomatoes have concentrated and are blackened in spots, 4 to 8 minutes per side. Let cool and transfer along with any juices to the bowl of a blender.
    Warm 2 teaspoons of oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Toast the almonds until pale golden, tossing and stirring regularly. Transfer to a plate to cool.
    When the meat is cool enough to handle, remove it from the liquid and transfer to a bowl. Break the beef into small, bite-size pieces with your fingers and set aside. Discard the bay leaves from the cooking liquid and transfer 1/2 cup or so of the cooking liquid and half of the onion and garlic pieces from the pot to the bowl of the blender. Add the chiles and a bit of the adobo sauce, the cinnamon, cloves, and black pepper. Process to form a nearly smooth thick paste, with no large bits of chile remaining, scraping the sides of the bowl and adding a bit more liquid as needed. Reserve 1 cup of the braising liquid (refrigerate the remaining liquid for another use).
    Return the chile-tomato paste, beef, reserved 1 cup of braising liquid, and the raisins to the pot. Simmer the mixture over medium-low heat until the meat is coated in a thick, barely fluid sauce, 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the reserved almonds and let the beef sit off the heat for a few minutes. Add salt to taste and serve in warm tortillas (2 to 3 tablespoons of filling per tortilla) with salsas, chopped white onion, cilantro, lime wedges, and Cotija cheese, if you like. The mixture can be made up to 2 days ahead and reheated on the stovetop with a half cup or so of water, or partially covered in a microwave.


Chipotle chiles (smoked jalapeno peppers) are available in a variety of forms: dried, packed in brine, and canned in adobo. Adobo chipotles are stewed in vinegar, tomatoes, garlic, and other seasonings. For use in this recipe, you can just pluck them from the can with a bit of their smoky sauce attached. Corn tortillas can be wrapped in a towel and steamed in a vegetable steamer or Chinese bamboo steamer set over simmering water. They can also be steamed in a microwave in their plastic bags if the plastic is fairly thick: Remove and separate the tortillas, then poke a few holes in the plastic wrapper and return the tortillas to the bag. Hot tortillas can be wrapped in a towel and served in a basket. Two soft tortillas are often doubled up to enfold the fillings. If you want to serve the tacos like this (and we think they're better this way), make sure you purchase enough tortillas.