Salt Beef Soft Shell Tacos | Mashtun and Meow: Sheffield Beer Blog

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Salt Beef Soft Shell Tacos

We are always looking for new ways to use salt beef... it is one of our favourite pieces of meat and I never get tired of brining and eating a good brisket. Recently we got hold of some dried chilies of ranging heats and flavours so we've become a little obsessed with Mexican food, so it seemed only right that we blend these two passions, and what better way than with tacos.

I love making flat breads, whether its naans and rotis to eat with a curry, or pittas for greek salads and dips. They are always simple to make, don't need time to rise and can be cooked using just a hot frying pan. So, unlike a crunchy taco shell, that will inevitably collapse, resulting in guacamole over the entire face and a sour cream covered shirt, we went for soft tacos, which are more manoeuvrable and durable, and will hold all the delicious filling you can cram in.

To accompany the salt beef we had a homemade guacamole, and pico de gallo (tomato salsa), as well as chimichurri, an Argentinian salsa verde. This vibrant fresh herb sauce is incredible with everything from salad, to steak, to fish and can even be used as a BBQ marinade. Traditionally made with parsley, fresh oregano, garlic and chilli, to work with the salt beef I added dill and gherkins with cider vinegar.

Recipe serves 3-4 (don't be put off by the number of items in the list - most of them are the kinds of things you will have in the fridge or cupboards)

For the tacos
200g plain flour
2 egg yolks
25g lard/butter
100ml water
A pinch of salt

For the chimichurri (to add to 400g salt beef)
Half a bunch parsley
Half a bunch oregano
Half a bunch dill
1 chilli (or more if you fancy)
3 midsize gherkins
A glug of cider vinegar
A pinch of salt

An avocado
Half a red onion
Juice of 1 lime
Half a chilli

Pico de Gallo
10 cherry tomatoes
2 spring onions
Half a chilli
A splash of balsamic vinegar
A good pinch of salt
A pinch of sugar


Start with the Pico de Gallo, as that will continue improving in flavour until its ready to eat (this can be prepared the day before and kept in the fridge). Chop the tomatoes in half and the onions as finely as you can and place in a bowl. Chop the chilli as big as you fancy and add it to the malaise. To this add the vinegar, salt and sugar: while the sugar may seem out of place, it will help to soften the onions' strength and frankly it's brill with tomatoes.

The guacamole is best done on the day as the avocado can have a tendency to blacken which isn't too great to eat. First, halve and de-stone the avocado: to do this, slice directly down to the stone and cut all the way round. Next, grab the avocado so you can see the cut between your thumbs and simply twist in opposite directions and pull apart. Then firmly strike the stone with a sharp knife and twist the stone, it will stay with the knife and be freed from the fleshy avocado joy.

Once the avocado is in half with the stone removed, use a spoon to scoop out the 70s bathroom coloured innards leaving behind the skin. Then chop as finely as desired. I like my guacamole quite coarsely chopped, but if you like your guac smooth then simply mash with a fork. To this, add some finely chopped red onion, chilli and the juice of a lime (the acid will help stop the discolouration).

The bread is a simple case of putting all the ingredients in a bowl and bringing together until a dough is formed. Knead on a floured surface until the dough is smooth, leave to rest for about 20 minutes, then knead again and split into 8 equal pieces before rolling into thin circles. Cook in a dry hot frying pan, turning occasionally to keep them from burning. When the breads have puffed up slightly and coloured to a golden brown put to one side in a warm oven.

The chimichurri is not particularly graceful to make - simply chuck everything into a blender until smooth. Again this is a personal choice: if you fancy a more coarse sauce then just chop them together until you've got a consistency to your liking.

The last step is to heat the meat. As the salt beef is already cooked, it is just a re-heat jobby, so on a medium heat in a lightly oiled pan, place thinly sliced meat to warm through. Turn once and then add the chimichurri atop the meat. Heat in the pan for another minute and then you're ready to construct the best taco you'll have today! Pop everything into a warm taco, and serve with a dollop of sour cream, grated cheese and a side of salad.



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