Creating recipes isn't a pastime—it's a passion. And a lot of fun.

The rules are few: Use 99% fresh ingredients (or thereabouts); make the dish simple but flavorful; make the dish flavorful but simple; be creative, not silly.

With this blog, I want to share new recipes, along with tips on ingredients and preparation, and, hopefully, show new cooks (and non-cooks) the pleasure in setting the table with a delicious homemade meal. The Briny Lemon is about fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients and easy cooking methods that help you bring the best to your family table. Your comments are welcome!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Braised-Beef Soft Tacos with West Texas Red Sauce

Many Texas-style red sauces are based on simple tomato sauce, with chiles added according to the amount of heat desired, if any. In the western part of the state, sauces are more similar to American southwestern or Mexican cuisine, which translates into spicy and smoky—and made with dried chiles.  

Tomato sauce is still used as a base, but west Texas sauces also highlight flavorful chiles such as ancho, guajillo, or chiles de arbol, as in this recipe. I used vegetable broth to thin the sauce while still adding rich flavor to the braised beef without weighing it down under a thick condiment.

Makes 10-12 tacos


For the Beef
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3-lb beef chuck roast, cut into 3-inch chunks
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 serrano chiles, finely chopped
  • 2 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp adobo sauce
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups low-sodium beef broth
  • 10-12 6-inch flour tortillas, warmed
  • cilantro leaves, shredded cheddar cheese, and sour cream, for serving (optional)
Beef Ready to Braise
Beef Braising Ingredients
For the West Texas Red Sauce
  • 10 chiles de arbol
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 scallions, white and light green parts only, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1-1/2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • sea salt

For the Beef
  1. Preheat the oven to 275° F.
  2. Heat a Dutch oven (or large, heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid) over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Add the beef and sear until the meat begins to brown, about 5 minutes per side.
  3. Add the next 6 ingredients (through adobo sauce) and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring a few times, 3 minutes.
Beef Beginning to Sear 
Braising Ingredients Added
  1. Add the beef broth. Cover the pot and braise until the meat is very tender, about 2-1/2 hours, turning the meat halfway through.
Beef with Broth Added
Braised Beef
  1. Transfer the beef to a large plate and let cool until easily handled. Pull the meat into shreds and place in a large saucepan or skillet. Add the red sauce (recipe follows) and stir well to combine. Warm over low heat until hot throughout.
Shredded Beef 
Beef with Sauce Added
To serve, place the beef and sauce mixture in a bowl and serve with warm flour tortillas, cilantro, cheese, and sour cream, if desired.

For the West Texas Red Sauce
  1. Heat a small, dry skillet over medium-high heat and add the chiles de arbol. Toast the chiles, shaking the pan frequently, until they begin to sweat and are very fragrant, about 3 minutes. Remove to a cutting board until cool. Remove the stems and finely chop the chiles.
Tip: Coarsely chop the chiles, garlic, and onion, then pile the three together on the board and chop finely together. This helps keep the dry chiles from flying all over the kitchen.

Chiles de Arbol Beginning to Toast 
Chopped Chiles, Scallions, and Garlic
  1. Heat a saucepan over medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the scallions, garlic, and chopped chiles and cook, stirring frequently, 3 minutes.
  2. Add the tomato sauce, vegetable broth, cumin, and oregano and season with salt.
Sauce Beginning to Cook
  1. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low and cook 10 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add the sauce to the pan with the shredded beef and continue with the recipe as noted above.
West Texas Red Sauce 
Beef and Sauce Taco


  1. Found your spicy post on FoodBlogs.com. I'm so glad I did.

    I'd love for you to,link this to What'd You Do This Weekend?


    Wishes for tasty dishes,
    Linda@Tumbleweed Contessa

  2. Thanks so much! I just added the link to your website---very nice site, by the way. Appreciate the invitation.