Slow Cooked Mexican Shredded Beef Cheeks (Mexican pulled beef)

If there was one recipe that is a total crowd-pleaser in our family it’s this one. Slow cooked Mexican beef cheeks in a tomato and chipotle chili bean sauce. We do Mexican Tuesday every week and the good thing about cooking this big batch of Mexican shredded beef (or Mexican pulled beef) is that we always have leftovers for Wednesday night as well as the odd lunch or two! One pot of this easy Mexican dish can easily be transformed into tacos one night, and enchiladas the next.

If mid-week taco nights aren’t your thing, this recipe also lends itself to the ultimate game day, or weekend get-together. Pop the pot of chili beef in the middle of the table and let everyone create their own dish. I’m more of a flour tortillas, Mexican beef, lots of salads, burrito girl, however, tacos are a favorite in our house. This way, everyone gets to create their own meal!

a small bowl of slow-cooked Mexican shredded beef cheeks on a bed on rice

Why you are going to love this shredded Mexican beef recipe…

It’s an easy dinner that is slow cooked in the oven. No standing by the stove stirring every five minutes. Start in on top of the stove then forget about it for a few hours.

This is a big batch. We’re talking 1.5kg of beef cheeks plus beans. In our house, this equates to at least 3 dinners. Big batch slow cooks… this one is for you!

It’s ridiculously versatile. There are SO many ways you can serve up Mexican shredded beef. I’ve listed a few of them below, but go nuts and experiment!

What you need to get started

  • Beef cheeks. You can also substitute with chuck steak, a beef chuck roast, or any other slow cook cut of beef. This is the stuff that makes the BEST slow-cooked, tender, melt-in-your-mouth dinners.

  • Pantry staples- beef broth or beef stock, canned tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil. If you are looking for a substitute to cooking with olive oil, try avocado oil. As much as I love extra virgin olive oil, it has quite a low smoke point. Avocado is a very versatile substitute and lends itself as a cracking cooking oil as well as a delicious salad dressing oil.

  • Vegetables – brown onions, garlic. When slow cooking, you can always (generally) substitute fresh onions and garlic for dried garlic and onion powders.

  • Black garlic. One of my no-so-secret favorite ingredients. A peeled clove or two added to soups and stews adds a huge amount of depth to a dish.

  • Chipotle chilis in adobo sauce. For lovers of Mexican food, this is a pantry staple. Chipotle peppers are great for soups, stews, and one-pot meals. Anywhere you would use chipotle chili powder. They have a decent amount of heat but are not too spicy. Just perfect if you ask me!

  • Herbs and spices Sweet smoked paprika, ground cumin, ground coriander

  • Sea salt flakes & freshly ground black pepper to season

How to make Mexican pulled beef

  1. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees Celcius

  2. In a cast iron casserole on the stove top, pop in the olive oil and heat up the pan on a low-medium heat.

  3. Brown the beef cheeks. Give them a thorough sealing to render any fat on the meat. Once sealed, pop the beef cheeks aside.

  4. If needed, add a little more oil to the pan and add the sliced onions. Saute on low heat until translucent.

  5. Add garlic and gently saute for 30 seconds until fragrant, then add all the dry spices and stir through.

  6. Add the canned tomatoes, chipotles, adobo sauce, and black garlic to the pot and stir to combine.

  7. Pop the beef cheeks back into the pot and bring to a simmer. Put the lid on and pop it into the preheated oven for 3 hours.

  8. Remove from the oven and take each beef cheek out of the casserole and pop it into a dish suitable for shredding the meat in.

  9. Using two forks, shred the beef then return it all to the pot.

  10. Add the drained black beans and pop everything back into the oven for a further 30 minutes.

  11. Season with salt & pepper

Equipment you’ll need

Ideally, slow cooking needs to be done in a slow-cooking vessel like a dutch oven or crock pot. But there are so many options. A Slow cooker or pressure cooker will also do the job, although the amount liquid stock needed may differ. Personally, I always slow cook in cast iron French ovens. In this recipe, I used my Le Creuset 28cm enameled cast iron French oven. For me, cast iron cooking is the ONLY way to slow-cook meat. The way it cooks the meat while keeping it oh-so tender, and reduces the cooking liquid into silky sauces is the stuff of magic.

Now I know that you can buy shredding forks for shredding meat, I still use two forks in a large bowl and it works for me. A good, heat-resistant, silicon cooking spoon is also essential when cooking in cast iron.

Mexican shredded beef tacos, nachos, or burritos?

I love a recipe that lends itself to being served up countless different ways and this shredded beef recipe is the KING of rehashing. Here are a few of my favourite ways to eat Mexican shredded beef…

Mexican beef burrito bowls. Pop 1/3 cup steamed rice (or Mexican rice) in a bowl and top with a scoop of Mexican shredded meat. Top with your favorite toppings. Try refried beans, sour cream, pico de gallo, grated cheddar cheese, and a chopped salad of tomato, cucumber, spring onions, homemade guacamole, sliced green chilis, a squeeze of lime juice, and a smattering of finely chopped coriander.

Mexican bao buns anyone?

All the Mexican favorites. Pulled beef tacos, burritos, nachos, beef enchiladas … the list goes on

It makes the ultimate Mexican beef burger. On a bun add a scoop of shredded beef and top cheddar and homemade coleslaw. Yarmmmm

How does a homemade Mexican shredded meat pie sound?

As a baked potato filling (or loaded potato skins). Or spaghetti squash filling. or sandwich filling. The list goes on with how many ways you can rehash this delicious recipe!

Can Mexican pulled beef be frozen?

Definitely! This Mexican shredded beef recipe freezes REALLY well. As this is a big batch, eat half and freeze the rest for another day. I use reusable, microwaveable, containers for my batch cooking. They are great for batch cooks like me, that cook for shift workers. Portion everything out into a sealable airtight container and then just pull one out of the freezer when needed. Night shift dinners sorted – and wife of the year award is imminent!

A few more slow-cooked recipes…

What’s you favorite Mexican food dish? Let me know in the comments!

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a bowl of slow-cooked Mexican beef cheeks on a bed of rice in a bowl

Slow Cooked Mexican Shredded Beef Cheeks

  • Author: Emma Lee
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 4 hours
  • Yield: 12 serves 1x
  • Category: dinner
  • Method: slow cook
  • Cuisine: Mexican

Description

We do Mexican Tuesdays every week and the good thing about cooking this big batch of Mexican shredded beef, is that we always have leftovers for Wednesday night as well as the odd lunch or two! One pot can easily be transformed into tacos one night, enchiladas the next.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil + more if needed
  • 1.5 kg beef cheeks
  • 2 brown onions, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 800g canned tomatoes
  • 4 chipotles in adobo sauce
  • 1 tbsp adobo sauce
  • 2 cloves black garlic
  • 400g can of black beans, drained

 


Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 150 degrees celcius
  2. In a cast iron casserole, pop in the olive oil and heat up the pan on a low heat and Brown the beef cheeks. Give them a thorough sealing to render any fat on the meat. Once sealed, pop the beef cheeks aside.
  3. If needed, add a little more oil to the pan and add the sliced onions. Saute on a low heat until translucent.
  4. Add garlic and gently saute for 30 seconds until fragrant, then add all the dry spices and stir through.
  5. Add the canned tomatoes, chipotles, adobo sauce and black garlic to the pot and stir to combine.
  6. Pop the beef cheeks back into the pot and bring to a simmer. Put the lid on and pop into the preheated oven for 3 hours.
  7. Remove from the oven and take each beef cheek out of the casserole and pop into a dish suitable for shredding the meat in.
  8. Using two forks, shred the beef then return it all to the pot.
  9. Add the drained black beans and pop back into the oven for a further 30 minutes.
  10. Season with salt & pepper


Keywords: slow cook, weekend, for a crowd

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