Make Ahead

Spicy Beef Shoulder Stew with Squash

December 26, 2013
7 Ratings
  • Serves 6 - 8
Author Notes

Years and years ago, a friend of mine had made this mouth-watering pulled pork shoulder that had been marinated forever in a combination of orange juice and tequila, along with lots of spices; we've since lost touch and I have absolutely no clue where his recipe came from (and I distinctly remember his response when I asked him where he got the recipe from: "the internet".) I just remember it was too spicy for anyone else in the apartment to eat (even him) and I ended up eating the whole dang thing myself over a matter of a few days, cold out of the fridge, sitting at the bar directly in front of the fridge, out of tupperware at some point.

Anyways, that's what inspired me to put together this recipe. I picked up a big piece of meat (an organic, free range, grass-fed, etc. piece of meat at that) and it was labeled "shoulder chuck roast" and seeing as how I'd never cooked anything like that before, I did a little research... on "the internet". After reading a bunch of articles I opted for a soup. It's been in the low to mid 20's here in Indiana and most everyone needs some warming up.

Maybe you can use a different piece of meat for the stew - you decide. I will tell you that after brining it overnight you'll take it out of the Ziploc bag and say to yourself 'Oh sh*t, it's so tough and leathery on the outside!' and I promise you, it's no big deal. It's all fine. After you cook it in the stew it'll fall apart very nicely. Also, a little tip - Once you take the meat out of the brine and brown it, steal a piece or two for yourself - it'll be rare-ish on the inside but the flavor... oh the flavor... so divine (or maybe I'm just full of myself, you decide and tell me in the comments).

* A note about the squash - The butternut squash adds a little sweetness to the stew; my boyfriend suggested the next time I make it using potatoes instead - you're more than welcome to do this if you're not a squash fan! —Ashley Marie

What You'll Need
  • The Roast (the rub and the brine)
  • 2 pounds chuck shoulder roast meat
  • 1 tablespoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 teaspoons hot Mexican-style chili powder (or regular chili powder with a dash or two of cayenne)
  • 1 cup Mango-Orange juice (or regular OJ is fine too)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup sea salt
  • 1/2 cup raw apple cider vinegar (like Bragg's)
  • 1/3 cup 100% agave tequila
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • The Stew (making it all come together)
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil (or other high-heat oil)
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed and roughly chopped
  • 1 serrano pepper, finely diced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, finely diced
  • 1 large red onion, finely diced
  • 1 1/2 cups red wine (you want something dark and not too fruity)
  • 5 cups beef stock
  • 1 28 oz can whole, peeled tomatoes, with juices
  • 2 whole bay leaves
  • 2 large carrots, thinly sliced
  • 1 to 1 1/2 pounds butternut squash, diced (depending on how much sweetness you want to add to the soup)
  • 2 15 oz cans butter beans
  • 10 to 12 ounces corn kernels (frozen works just fine)
  • avocado, for garnish
  • cilantro, for garnish
  • lime, for garnish
  • sour cream or greek yogurt, for garnish
  1. The Roast (the rub and the brine)
  2. Don't rinse the meat. Just pat it dry and rub the garlic salt all over it.
  3. Mix your spices (paprika, mustard powder, cumin and chili powder) together and rub ontop of the garlic salt. Let the meat sit for an hour at room temp.
  4. While it's sitting, create your brine. In a large ziplock bag, combine the tequila, orange juice, salt, sugar, apple cider vinegar and honey. Shake it up a few times before adding the piece of meat once it's ready and then double-bagging (to avoid a mess in your fridge in case there's a leak in the first bag).
  5. Refrigerate over night, or for at least 12 hours (I did just under 20hrs).
  1. The Stew (making it all come together)
  2. When ready, remove your meat from the brine and discard the liquid. Cut the meat into several large chunks, about 1" squares.
  3. Heat a large soup/stock pot over medium high heat. Add a tablespoon of grapeseed oil to it once hot and let sit until it starts shimmering.
  4. Carefully sear each side of the chunks of meat. Remove and set aside.
  5. Bring the heat in your pot down to medium. Add another tablespoon of the grapeseed oil to the leftover liquid from the meat plus a half cup of wine and the garlic. Let the garlic cook, scraping the bottom of the pot and stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes or until soft and most of the liquid has evaporated.
  6. Add your jalapeno, serrano chili and red onion. Let cook, stirring occasionally, until everything has begun to collapse and soften, about fifteen minutes.
  7. Add the rest of the red wine and all of the beef stock to the pot, crank the heat up to high and bring it all to a boil. Add your tomatoes, the bay leaves and the meat.
  8. Once it begins to simmer again, cover and reduce the heat down to low. Let it gently simmer for two hours.
  9. Remove the lid, give everything a few stirs and taste for salt. Add your squash, carrots, corn and butter beans. Cover and let it all cook under very tender, about 30 minutes.
  10. Taste for salt again before ladling into bowls. Serve with lime, avocado, cilantro and some sour cream or greek yogurt on the side if desired.
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