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This rich, meaty taco filling combines tender, fall-apart beef with a red chili sauce
Milk Street Bowtie Beef Chili Colorado Tacos

Beef Chili Colorado Tacos

Appears in May-June 2022

3¾ hours 45 minutes active

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Beef Chili Colorado Tacos

Free

Carne en chile colorado is a Mexican classic, and one of the delicious offerings that appear on the rotating menu at Walter Soto’s El Ruso taqueria trucks that operate in a couple locations in and around Los Angeles. “Colorado” translates from the Spanish as “red-colored,” an apt name for the succulent, stewy dish of meat, sometimes shredded, sometimes not, in a sauce of pureed dried red chilies. Pork is commonly used to make chili colorado, but this version is Paola Briseño-González's ode to El Ruso's rich, robust beef in red chili sauce. The cut of choice is a boneless chuck roast, which boasts plenty of fat and connective tissue so that long, slow cooking yields rich, tender, full-flavored meat. Either guajillo or New Mexico chilies work here; you can even use a combination. Both are a deep red color, have bright, fruity notes with subdued earthiness, and contain only mild chili heat. El Ruso also is well known for its flour tortillas, so that’s the type to serve with the chili colorado for making tacos.

6 to 8

Servings

Tip

Don’t worry if the beef is not entirely submerged in the chili puree when the chunks are added to the pot. As it cooks, the meat will release some juices. However, if, after about an hour of simmering, the beef is not covered with liquid, stir in ½ cup water to ensure even cooking and prevent drying.

3¾ hours

45 minutes active

12 medium (about 2½ ounces) guajillo or New Mexico chilies, stemmed, seeded and roughly torn
4 medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
1 teaspoon mexican oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 1/2 pounds boneless beef chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 3-inch chunks
2 tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil
1 medium yellow onion, ½ roughly chopped, ½ finely chopped, reserved separately
2 bay leaves
Warm flour tortillas, to serve
1/2 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro, chopped
Ingredients
  • 12

    medium (about 2½ ounces) guajillo or New Mexico chilies, stemmed, seeded and roughly torn

  • 4

    medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled

  • 1
  • ¼

    teaspoon ground cumin

  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper

  • 3

    tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • pounds boneless beef chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 3-inch chunks

  • 2

    tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil

  • 1

    medium yellow onion, ½ roughly chopped, ½ finely chopped, reserved separately

  • 2

    bay leaves

  • Warm flour tortillas, to serve

  • ½

    cup lightly packed fresh cilantro, chopped

Directions
  1. 01
    In a medium saucepan, combine the chilies and enough water to cover by about 1 inch. Bring to a boil over medium-high, pressing on the chilies to submerge them. Remove from the heat, cover and let stand until the chilies are fully softened, 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. 02
    Drain the chilies, discarding the water, and put them in a blender along with the garlic, oregano, cumin, 4 cups water and 1½ teaspoons salt. Blend until smooth, about 2 minutes; set aside.
  3. 03
    Spread the flour in a pie plate or other wide, shallow dish. Add the beef, turning to coat all sides. In a large Dutch oven over medium-high, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the beef, shaking off the excess flour, and cook, turning occasionally, until well browned on all sides, about 10 minutes; transfer to a large plate.
  4. 04
    Pour off and discard any fat in the pot. Add the chili puree and bring to a simmer over medium, scraping up any browned bits. Stir in the roughly chopped onion and bay, then add the beef and any accumulated juices. Return to a simmer, then cover, reduce to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally and increasing the heat as needed to maintain a vigorous simmer, for 1 hour. If at this point the braising liquid no longer covers the beef, stir in ½ cup water and return to a simmer. Cook, covered, until a skewer inserted into the largest piece of beef meets no resistance and the sauce has the consistency of heavy cream, about another 1 hour. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, for about 30 minutes. Remove and discard the bay.
  5. 05
    Using 2 forks, shred the beef. Return to a simmer over medium, stirring occasionally. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve with flour tortillas and with the finely chopped onion and cilantro for making tacos.
Tip: Don’t worry if the beef is not entirely submerged in the chili puree when the chunks are added to the pot. As it cooks, the meat will release some juices. However, if, after about an hour of simmering, the beef is not covered with liquid, stir in ½ cup water to ensure even cooking and prevent drying.
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Reviews
John M.
May 25, 2022
Great Taco Filling!
This was an excellent recipe! I made the chili puree the night before starting to cook this mid-morning the next day. Another keeper recipe from Ms. Hill & the Milk Street team. Thanks, folks!
Thanea W.
June 7, 2022
Beef Chili Colorado Tacos
The flavor profile was excellent. However, there was way too much sauce for the amount of meat. I would either reduce the water added to 2 cups or cook it uncovered adding water as needed.
Mark R S.

Disappointing results for the time invested in this recipe. The chili puree had minimal flavor from the start, the 4 cups of water seemed to really dilute any flavor from the chilis. The final dish has a lot of liquid, perhaps there is a step missing to cook off some of the liquid in enhance the flavor?

John M.

I made this recipe today and it tasted really good. I made it exactly as written and the sauce to beef ratio was just about perfect. I don't know what happened with the previous commenter's experience, but the sauce had the consistency of heavy cream in the end as was noted here. I even added the 1/2 cup of liquid (beef broth) after the first hour to cover the meat better. I used Vulcan's Fire Salt at the end for a bit of kick. I'll definitely make this one again. Thanks Ms. Briseño-González, Ms. Hill & Milk Street team once again!

Diana L.

It was not difficult to make. I made it with using dry GUAJILLO. That is all my grocery store had. It does not say if guajillo should be dry or fresh? The sauce itself did not taste much like anything. I kept adding salt and pepper to bring the flavor. I have added 1 tsp of cumin, but I think it needs a lot more flavors. The meat when done did not have much flavor either. Adding back to sauce made a slight difference. Also, I did not add 1/2 cup of water after 1 hour cooking. It did not need it (too much liquid). Next, for this to make it taste good you have to add condiments to your tacos. We have added sour cream, cheese, and Amy's Kitchen Baked Beans (Organic, Traditional) and it made a big difference. The beans are a little sweet.


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Beef Chili Colorado Tacos

Get Ready to Cook

6 to 8

Servings

3¾ hours

45 minutes active

Tip

Don’t worry if the beef is not entirely submerged in the chili puree when the chunks are added to the pot. As it cooks, the meat will release some juices. However, if, after about an hour of simmering, the beef is not covered with liquid, stir in ½ cup water to ensure even cooking and prevent drying.

Ingredients
  • 12

    medium (about 2½ ounces) guajillo or New Mexico chilies, stemmed, seeded and roughly torn

  • 4

    medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled

  • 1
  • ¼

    teaspoon ground cumin

  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper

  • 3

    tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • pounds boneless beef chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 3-inch chunks

  • 2

    tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil

  • 1

    medium yellow onion, ½ roughly chopped, ½ finely chopped, reserved separately

  • 2

    bay leaves

  • Warm flour tortillas, to serve

  • ½

    cup lightly packed fresh cilantro, chopped

Step 1 of 5

Prepare the Chilies

12
medium (about 2½ ounces) guajillo or New Mexico chilies, stemmed, seeded and roughly torn

In a medium saucepan, combine the chilies and enough water to cover by about 1 inch. Bring to a boil over medium-high, pressing on the chilies to submerge them. Remove from the heat, cover and let stand until the chilies are fully softened, 15 to 20 minutes.

Step 2 of 5

Make the Chili Puree

4
medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
1
teaspoon Mexican oregano
¼
teaspoon ground cumin
4
cups water
teaspoons salt

Drain the chilies, discarding the water, and put them in a blender along with the garlic, oregano, cumin, 4 cups water and 1½ teaspoons salt. Blend until smooth, about 2 minutes; set aside.

Step 3 of 5

Brown the Beef

3
tablespoons all-purpose flour
pounds boneless beef chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 3-inch chunks
2
tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil

Spread the flour in a pie plate or other wide, shallow dish. Add the beef, turning to coat all sides. In a large Dutch oven over medium-high, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the beef, shaking off the excess flour, and cook, turning occasionally, until well browned on all sides, about 10 minutes; transfer to a large plate.

Step 4 of 5

Braise the Beef

½
medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
2
bay leaves

Pour off and discard any fat in the pot. Add the chili puree and bring to a simmer over medium, scraping up any browned bits. Stir in the roughly chopped onion and bay, then add the beef and any accumulated juices. Return to a simmer, then cover, reduce to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally and increasing the heat as needed to maintain a vigorous simmer, for 1 hour.


If at this point the braising liquid no longer covers the beef, stir in ½ cup water and return to a simmer. Cook, covered, until a skewer inserted into the largest piece of beef meets no resistance and the sauce has the consistency of heavy cream, about another 1 hour. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, for about 30 minutes. Remove and discard the bay.

Step 5 of 5

Finish and Serve

Kosher salt and ground black pepper
3
tablespoons all-purpose flour
½
cup lightly packed fresh cilantro, chopped
½
medium yellow onion, finely chopped

Using 2 forks, shred the beef. Return to a simmer over medium, stirring occasionally. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve with flour tortillas and with the finely chopped onion and cilantro for making tacos.

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