What's for Dinner: Cola Shredded Beef Tacos

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Cola Shredded-beef tacos

This braised dish takes a few hours to prepare, but it's worth it. The addition of Coca-Cola makes a relatively inexpensive cut of beef extremely tender (I got mine BOGO), and the sauce gets incredibly tasty after slow-cooking with chiles. Don't skimp on the pickled jalapenos -- they add zip. Ditto on the cilantro and lime, happy partners in Mexican cooking.

You can find dried chiles at Reyna Foods in the Strip District.

3 medium dried ancho chiles

2 large dried guajillo chiles

2 tablespoons canola oil, divided

1/4 cup finely chopped red onion

2 large garlic cloves, sliced

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 cup canned diced tomatoes

1 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican

2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

2 pounds chuck roast, fat trimmed and cut into 4 pieces

1 bay leaf

1½ cups Mexican Coca-Cola (cane-sugar sweetened) or another cola

12 or 24 corn tortillas (6 inches wide; use 24 if they're thin)

Chopped avocado, red onion and cilantro; thinly sliced pickled jalapenos; and crema or sour cream for topping

Wipe chiles clean with a damp cloth; stem, seed and tear into pieces. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until softened, 2 minutes. Add chiles and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add 1½ cups water, cumin seeds, tomatoes, oregano and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, until chiles are softened, about 10 minutes. Puree in a blender until smooth.

Meanwhile, season beef with remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a 5- or 6-quart pot over medium-high heat. Brown beef all over, 10 to 14 minutes. Discard fat, if any.

Pour chile sauce into pot and add bay leaf, cola and a little water if needed to barely cover meat. Cover, reduce heat and simmer until beef is very tender, about 3 hours.

With slotted spoon, transfer beef to a plate. Let cool slightly and tear into shreds, discarding any fat or gristle. Meanwhile, boil sauce over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened and reduced to about 3 cups, 10 to 30 minutes. Stir in beef and heat a few minutes until hot. Remove bay leaf.

Transfer beef with some sauce to a bowl. Spoon beef into heated tortillas, tuck in accompaniments and serve with more sauce.

Makes 12 tacos.

-- "The Sunset Essential Western Cookbook" (Oxmoor House, 2012, $24.95)

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