Well, a visit to a fast food joint has culminated in a recipe that is one of the best to come out of my kitchen in many years: machaca. I finally got up the courage to eat lunch at Chipotle (well, OK, I had a coupon). I had the barbacoa, and it awoke an old memory of something wonderful I once had called machaca.
I googled it, and came up with many recipes for it. Briefly: you marinade a chunk of beef overnight in Hispanic flavors, braise it in the same marinade liquid until it is fork tender, shred it, then put it back in the liquid and boil till mostly dry. Chipotles had apparently skipped the dry step. Heck many places will also skip the marinade and braising step, boil a chunk of beef in plain water, toss it into a food processor, and voila, shredded beef.
This is my cheater’s version.
-Heat up some bacon grease in a chili pot and fry whole cumin seed, whole black peppercorn, garam masala, ancho chili powder, and cayenne chili powder for a minute until fragrant.
-Add beef chuck (I used a 7 bone roast) and brown it. Add a couple of chopped roma tomatoes, a couple of bay leaves, a twig of rosemary, half a dozen cloves of garlic, water to partially cover the meat.
-Bring to a boil, put on a lid, and place into a 300 oven until fork tender, about 3 hours (OK, I used my pressure cooker for about 45 minutes).
-(carefully, using tongs, since it is hot) take the meat to a cutting board, and remove bone, chunks of fat, bay leaves, rosemary twig. With a couple of big forks, tear apart the meat, sort of like pulled pork.
-Put the meat back into the pot and boil on high till dry. Towards the end, you will have to stir constantly to prevent burning on the bottom.
It will survive in the frig for several days, covered. Please note that I have not indicated the addition of salt (I added no salt at all, and the flavor was perfect; probably the small amount of salt from the bacon grease), and also be careful about how much cayenne you use. Because the liquid at the end is totally boiled dry, all the flavors become super-concentrated, so be careful how much spice and season you add; go easy on the amounts.