3 Tex-Mex Dinners to Make From Chuck Roast Right Now

August 20, 2016

We partnered with the Beef Checkoff to share writer Paula Disbrowe's three favorite ways to cook with versatile, flavorful chuck roast.

At first glance, a Chuck Roast reads as Sunday dinner—as in the traditional meat-and-potatoes, nap-inducing lunch (I grew up in the Midwest, so I come by these impulses from experience).

Richly browned on all sides and then slow-roasted at low heat, around 250°F, under a heap of sliced onions or shallots, garlic, and fresh herbs, with potatoes and carrots joining the party for the last hour, the preparation remains one of my favorite meals—especially when it’s served with a generous dollop of horseradish-spiked sour cream. But during the sweltering days of summer (if you haven’t noticed we’re in triple digits in Austin), I see a well-marbled Chuck Roast as the beginning of countless other possibilities better suited to the season. Perhaps not surprisingly, all of them pair exceptionally well with a margarita—another favorite way to combat the Texas heat.

Beef Flautas

Crisp and crunchy flautas, also known as taquitos in late night drive-thru parlance, are delicious and inconceivably light any time of year. Named for their cylinder shape—flautas is Spanish for “flute”—the beloved Tex-Mex staple consists of a corn tortilla rolled around a filling (beef, in this case) and pan-fried. As I learned after smoking a Brisket, flautas are the ultimate outlet for any type of leftover beef, particularly when it’s seared and smoky.

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Flautas are a snap to prepare and don’t really require a recipe (this version, though, comes from Homesick Texan, who offers a solid 101 guideline for rookies). To prepare them, snugly roll a portion of shredded beef in a corn tortilla, and then pan-fry, placing the flauta in the hot oil seam-side down. You’ll need to use tongs to secure the shape for the first minute or so, until the tortilla melds and crisps enough to hold its shape. Fry up a couple dozen, and hold them in a warm oven until you’re ready to serve with shredded cabbage, guacamole, a drizzle of Mexican crema, and your favorite red salsa. (You’ll be alarmed at how easily and quickly they disappear!)

Braised Beef Tacos

We honor Taco Tuesday at our house, and Beer-Braised Beef is a favorite filling. (Bonus: As with any braise, it’s even better made the day before.)

The method follows a classic wine-braised stew that I adapted from The Pioneer Woman: Brown large (2-inch) cubes of Chuck Roast in olive oil, and then set aside. Add aromatics like onions, garlic, bay leaves, a cinnamon stick to the pan, season and sauté until softened, and then add a bottle of dark Mexican beer. Bring the liquid to a boil, stirring, and then add the beef—the liquid should come about halfway up the meat. Reduce the heat, cover, and braise the meat, stirring occasionally, until it’s meltingly tender (this should take about 3 hours). After the beef cools, use a couple forks to shred it into manageable pieces—this will also help it soak up the flavorful braising liquid—and call taco lovers to the table. Serve the meat in charred flour tortillas with sliced avocados hit with salt and lime, grated cotija cheese, and a colorful radish salad (shaved radishes, chile-infused oil, citrus juice, and fresh cilantro do the trick).

Chile Rellenos

Tender, shredded Chuck Roast makes a luxurious filling for Chile Rellenos. This iconic dish is more of a weekend project, but the delicious results are totally worth the effort—and you’ll be in air conditioned bliss, so who cares?

Traditional recipes (like Diana Kennedy’s in The Art of Mexican Cooking) are made with pork shoulder, but you can adapt the method (mine, from Bailey's Farms) by moistening shredded beef in a brightly flavored tomato sauce and adding chopped jalapeño or serrano chiles, raisins, and chopped toasted nuts (walnuts or pecans), spices (cinnamon and maybe a pinch of cloves) and fresh herbs (oregano, marjoram, parsley) as desired. A splash of sherry vinegar will brighten the rich flavors. Then, carefully stuff the mixture into roasted and peeled poblano peppers (don’t go overboard, you’ll want to seal the peppers with a toothpick after filling), dip them into a whipped egg batter, and fry until golden brown. Serve the rellenos while they’re warm and crisp, on a pool of additional tomato sauce.

Photo by James Ransom

We teamed up with the Beef Checkoff to share recipes, tips, and videos all season long, showing you how to prep and cook beef at home like you've been doing it forever.

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Paula Disbrowe writes frequently about Food and Travel. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her bread baker husband David Norman, two children, and menagerie of retired ranch animals.