Carne deshebrada, literally meaning "shredded beef," is a common offering at Mexican taco stands. It's made by braising a large cut of beef until ultra-tender and then shredding the meat and tossing it with a flavorful rojo sauce made with tomatoes and/or dried chiles.

Although short ribs are a bit nontraditional, their ultra-beefy flavor made them an excellent choice. To achieve flavorful browning, we raised the beef up out of the braising liquid by resting it on onion rounds; the ambient heat browned the short ribs just enough for this dish.

Next, we created a braising liquid that would infuse the beef with flavor and later act as a base for our rojo sauce. Beer and cider vinegar provided depth and brightness, and tomato paste boosted savory flavor. Smoky-sweet ancho chiles gave the sauce a rounder flavor and a gentle, spicy kick.

Cumin, cinnamon, cloves, oregano, and bay leaves added warmth and complexity. Once the beef had finished cooking, we pureed the braising liquid into a sauce with a smooth, luxurious consistency. A bright, tangy slaw provided a nice counterbalance to the rich meat. Use a full-bodied lager or ale such as Dos Equis or Sierra Nevada.

SHREDDED BEEF TACOS

Servings: 6-8

Start to finish: 3 1/2 hours

1 1/2 cups beer

4 dried ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded, and torn into 1/2 inch pieces (1 cup)

1/2 cup cider vinegar

2 tablespoons tomato paste

6 garlic cloves, lightly crushed and peeled

3 bay leaves

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons dried oregano

Salt and pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 large onion, sliced into 1/2 inch-thick rounds

3 pounds boneless beef short ribs, trimmed and cut into 2 inch cubes

18 (6 inch) corn tortillas, warmed

1 recipe Cabbage-Carrot Slaw (recipe follows)

4 ounces queso fresco, crumbled (1 cup)

Lime wedges

Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and heat oven to 325 F. Combine beer, anchos, vinegar, tomato paste, garlic, bay leaves, cumin, oregano, 2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, cloves, and cinnamon in Dutch oven. Arrange onion rounds in single layer on bottom of pot. Place beef on top of onion rounds in single layer. Cover and cook until meat is well browned and tender, 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

Using slotted spoon, transfer beef to large bowl, cover loosely with aluminum foil, and set aside. Strain liquid through fine-mesh strainer into 2 cup liquid measuring cup (do not wash pot). Discard onion rounds and bay leaves. Transfer remaining solids to blender. Let strained liquid settle for 5 minutes, then skim any fat from surface. Add water as needed to equal 1 cup. Pour liquid into blender with reserved solids and blend until smooth, about 2 minutes. Transfer sauce to now-empty pot.

Using 2 forks, shred beef into bite-size pieces. Bring sauce to simmer over medium heat. Add beef and stir to coat. Season with salt to taste. (Beef can be refrigerated for up to 2 days; gently reheat before serving.)

Spoon small amount of beef into each warm tortilla and serve, passing slaw, queso fresco, and lime wedges separately.

Cabbage-Carrot Slaw

Makes about 8 cups

1 cup cider vinegar

1/2 cup water

1 tablespoon sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 head green cabbage, cored and sliced thin (6 cups)

1 onion, sliced thin

1 large carrot, peeled and shredded

1 jalapeno chile, stemmed, seeded, and minced

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Whisk vinegar, water, sugar, and salt in large bowl until sugar is dissolved. Add cabbage, onion, carrot, jalapeƱo, and oregano and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours. Drain slaw and stir in cilantro right before serving.

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Nutrition information per serving: 521 calories; 187 calories from fat; 21 g fat (8 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 94 mg cholesterol; 846 mg sodium; 44 g carbohydrate; 9 g fiber; 9 g sugar; 35 g protein.

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