Like all good things, sometimes you just want something different, and every shop that offered chorizo and eggs also offered machaca and eggs. This was a real find. Machaca and eggs is not just delicious, it's absolutely fantastic. And machaca is incredibly versatile. I discovered it as a breakfast accompaniment to eggs, but you can actually use it in a variety of mexican dishes that call for beef. As I mentioned, I don't have any trouble finding chorizo around these parts anymore, but machaca is another matter. I can't find it anywhere. And as I do when I can't find something I want, I start to see if I can find a recipe for it.
This particular day, Providence was kind to me, and landed my browser on a site called Texas Cooking Online. There is an article there called "How to Make Beef Machaca" by chef David Bulla. Chef Bulla says in his article: "In my opinion, machaca is so superior in flavor and texture to ground beef taco meat that it makes me wonder why anyone would use ground beef for tacos." -- after making and tasting his recipe, I wholeheartedly concur. I'm embarrassed to say that I never considered using it in anything but eggs before reading this, but I've since remedied that. Machaca is now my go-to meat for most of the mexican dishes I make. Enchiladas, Tamales, Tacos, Burritos, and sometimes I just take a fork and eat it from a bowl. Every time I've taken machaca to work for breakfast or lunch, it draws curious colleagues from as far as 3 cubes away. I've lost count of how many times I've emailed the link to the recipe to folks. If you're a big fan of southwestern cuisine, this is one ingredient you'll want to keep on hand.
I spoke with the delightful gal who runs the site Texas Cooking Online, and asked if I could post the recipe, giving them credit for it and providing a link back to their site, and she was most gracious to give me permission to do that. So here is David Bulla's recipe for Beef Machaca. I would encourage you to check out his article, because he also gives you some recipes for how you might use it in enchiladas and quesadillas, as well as a great recipe for enchilada sauce. I'm giving you his recipe, the only alterations I made when I prepared this were insignificant. I used 2 serrano chiles in lieu of 1 jalapeno. (It's what I had on hand). And instead of 1/2 a bell pepper, I used 2-3 roasted, skinned Anaheim chiles. (Again, it's what I had on hand, plus I love anaheim chiles.) So, sans further adieu, here it is, -- enjoy.
This is a basic machaca recipe. You can add to it or take away from it. Spice it up a little by adding chili powder or chili paste. Finish with some diced potatoes for Machaca con papas. You could also make a version of this recipe with leftover roasts or fajitas. Skip the marinade step and the searing step. Simply simmer the meat with the other ingredients until it is falling apart then shred it.
Marinate the beef overnight in a bowl in the refrigerator. Before preparing, drain thoroughly and allow meat to come up to room temperature for about 30 minutes.
In a large soup pot, heat a few tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat until very hot. Sear the beef a few pieces at a time to develop a rich brown color on all sides as well as on the bottom of the pan. Do this in several batches if the pot is too crowded.
When all the beef is browned nicely and removed from the pan, add the onions, peppers, and garlic to the hot pan. Saut for a few minutes then add the remaining ingredients to the pan along with the beef. Bring to a boil, scraping the browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer slowly for about 2 hours. The meat should be very tender and should easily fall apart when pricked with a fork.
Remove from heat, remove meat to a cutting board and shred with a pair of forks. Return to the pot and bring to a simmer, uncovered. Reduce the liquid until very thick, almost dry. At this point, adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper, and whatever additional heat you want to add if any.
Serve with tortillas, cheese, salsa, lettuce and guacamole for a great beef taco. Portion and freeze the remaining machaca in zip lock bags for later use.