The Recipe: What a quick supper! Just cook the beef in the slow cooker (no browning!) with pantry ingredients, then toss together a quick sauté of vegetables and black beans. Add some diced avocado and sour cream. Gorgeous!
The Conversation: The lesson I've learned from chefs about pantry ingredients.
As of this month, I’ve written 175 weekly columns for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, wrangling home-cook friendly recipes from restaurants.
Column by column, the weeks fly by, the years too. And week after week, I fall in love with a brand-new place, its chef, its food and most especially its story.
Every week, that one place is my new favorite. I want to eat there! I want everyone else to eat there too! The next week? It happens all over again with still another new place.
(Okay, yes, there are a few clunkers and some times the owner and I just don’t connect. But it’s more rare than one might think. And I like to think that readers never know, discerning nothing between the lines.)
One big lesson? Ingredient management. Chefs are trained to have at least two menu items for any ingredient kept on the shelf. And boy, did this common restaurant practice work out here in my own kitchen.
Two Pantry Ingredients in Two Recipes: Salsa and green chiles.
Recipe #1: Easy Make-Ahead Breakfast Casserole, it’s so handy to make this on a whim, I keep the key ingredients on hand.
Recipe #2: Slow Cooker Shredded Beef, what an easy supper, I will definitely make this again!
SHREDDED BEEF The beef is good enough on its own, great texture and flavor, nice to have on hand (and I suspect, to freeze) for impromptu beef sandwiches. Regular readers know I’m no fan of slow cookers, finding inconsistent and unreliable, no matter the model. This recipe works, even for me! It’s because there’s so much liquid in the pot that there’s little risk of the meat burning. Still, I’d never leave a slow cooker unattended for more than an hour or two but that’s just me. Yes, that’s raw beef that’s dropped into the slow cooker. Yippee, no browning! For meat seasoning, use one of those blends that collect in the spice cupboard. For our taste, mild salsa is perfect and the green chiles are quite mild as well. These add flavor more than heat.
VEGGIES & BLACK BEANS This is a great combination, as written, but feel free to adapt based on what vegetables you like and have on hand. Do dice everything quite small, it’ll be easier to spread on the tacos.
TACOS I’d intended to fold the shredded beef and veggies into burritos but found whole-wheat tortillas way too stiff for folding even when warmed. Tacos it would be! You can warm one or two tortillas in the microwave, just 10 or 20 seconds will do it. For more, wrap a stack of tortillas in foil, heat in a 350F oven for about 20 minutes. With the leftovers, I used corn tortillas to make a slightly different version of my total favorite Mexican Pizza (Oaxaca Tlayuda), warmed in the oven on a blazing-hot cast iron griddle, the grill would work too. Awesome good!
SLOW COOKER SHREDDED BEEF TACOS
with VEGGIES & BLACK BEANS
Time to table: 5 hours
Makes 3 cups Shredded Beef and 3-1/2 cups Veggies & Beans, enough for about 9 tacos
SLOW COOKER SHREDDED BEEF
- 2 pounds beef stew meat
- 2 tablespoons meat seasoning (see ALANNA’s TIPS)
- 1 onion, diced fine
- 1 15-ounce jar salsa
- 1 4-ounce can green chiles
- 2/3 cup water
VEGGIES & BLACK BEANS
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced small
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 jalapeño, minced
- 2 cups diced zucchini
- 2 cups corn kernels
- 1 large tomato, diced or 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved or quartered
- 1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- Shredded Beef Cooking Liquid
- Salt & pepper
- 1 whole-wheat tortilla, warmed
- 1/3 cup hot Shredded Beef
- 1/3 cup hot Veggies & Black Beans
- Diced avocado
- Chopped green onion
- Sour cream
SLOW COOKER SHREDDED BEEF Stir uncooked meat and remaining ingredients together in a slow cooker. Cook on high for two hours. Stir and cook for another two hours on high. Lift meat from slow cooker. There will be almost 3 cups of liquid in the slow cooker; leave one cup in the slow cooker, set aside the rest for the Veggies & Black Beans. With two forks, shred the meat and return it to slow cooker, stirring into the one cup cooking liquid. Cook for another 30 minutes or so on high while cooking the Veggies & Black Beans.
VEGGIES & BLACK BEANS In a large skillet, heat olive oil on medium high until shimmery, stir in onion, garlic, jalapeno and zucchini as they’re prepped, cook just until turning color. Stir in tomato, black beans and cumin, then the leftover cooking liquid. Season with salt and pepper. Let simmer for 5 – 10 minutes.
PER TACO Spread Shredded Beef on a tortilla, top with Veggies & Black Beans. Sprinkle with avocado and green onion, serve with sour cream on the side.
FYI for accuracy, I’m separating the nutrition information for readers, some will use only the Shredded Beef, others only the Veggies & Black Beans, etc. In addition tortillas vary widely-widely in calories, fat and carbs depending on the size, the brand, their own ingredients: there’s no guessing what you might choose.
SLOW COOKER SHREDDED BEEF ONLY Per 1/3 cup (assumes 2/3 salsa and chiles used with Veggies & Black Beans): 178 Calories; 8g Tot Fat; 3g Sat Fat; 65mg Cholesterol; 153mg Sodium; 3g Carb; 0g Fiber; 1g Sugar; 21g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS WW Old Points 4, WW PointsPlus 4
VEGGIES & BLACK BEANS ONLY Per 1/3 cup (assumes 2/3 salsa and chiles from Slow Cooker Shredded Beef): 100 Calories; 2g Tot Fat; 0g Sat Fat; 318mg Cholesterol; 318mg Sodium; 18g Carb; 4g Fiber; 3g Sugar; 4g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS WW Old Points 1.5, WW PointsPlus 3
I also use the Slow Cooker Shredded Beef to make a beef version of Afghan Chicken & Rice Casserole (Kabeli Palau). So good! Great party food!
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