Back in 2011, my Sister and I spent a week in Playacar, Mexico at an all-inclusive resort. It was beautiful and lush and having endless options of food was exciting, for sure – but the humidity damn near killed me, and sitting poolside for hours on end isn’t my idea of fun. My favourite memories are those of a day we spent at Xcaret, filling up on guacamole made table side at a restaurant in Playa del Carmen and discovering a taco bar at the resort where we inhaled delicious taco after delicious taco. Slurp.
Speaking of delicious tacos, I came across this Tyler Florence recipe and decided to make them for my boyfriend’s birthday a few years ago. They quickly became an household favourite and I even made them while visiting Miss Stephanie and her husband one time. While they’re not the same as the authentic Mexican tacos, they’re definitely delicious and I highly recommend them!
2-3 lbs beef shoulder
freshly ground black pepper
extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 large onion, sliced
1 (28-ounce) can crushed san marzano tomatoes
1 Tbsp ancho chile powder
1 Tbsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp ground cumin
3 bay leaves
Season all sides of the beef with a fair amount of salt and pepper. In a large heavy pot that has a tight cover, heat 2 Tbsp of olive oil over moderately high heat. Add the garlic and the beef to the pot, browning the meat on all sides, taking the time to get a nice crust on the outside. Add the onion and allow to lightly brown, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes, plus 1 tomato can of water, spices, season with salt and pepper, to taste, and add enough water to cover the meat. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer with a lid for 3 hours until the meat is fork tender. Let meat cool in the liquid. Shred meat, add enough of the cooking liquid to coat the shredded meat to your preference, and set aside.
To serve: use whichever tortillas you prefer (we like flour), and top with your favourite fixings. One of my favourite finds is queso fresco, but if you can’t find it any cheese would work (jalapeno jack and feta are good substitutes in my opinion). Don’t forget cilantro and a squeeze of fresh lime!
If you’re interested in seeing my trip photos, you can check them out here.