This shop sharing my recipe for gluten free and dairy free Crockpot Mexican Beef served in Masa Cups has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #VivaLaMorena #CollectiveBias
We are entering the season of crazy. And it’s usually crazy good. I am running nonstop, as is everyone, but it tends to be for fun things like cookie exchanges or holiday parties, football games or gymnastics meets, birthday parties or PTO events. And all of that holiday craziness doesn’t excuse me from feeding my family – and often friends at the same time.
Today, for example, was Breakfast with Dads at our elementary school (or in Little Miss’s case, breakfast with grandpas because my husband couldn’t get a sub to be there).
Not only was I there volunteering from before 8am until cleanup was done after 11am, but I was running all over creation picking up items we need to make the event happen earlier this week, too. The good news is that my errands sent me down near one of my favorite local grocery stores, Tony’s Finer Foods.
I love any excuse to pop in there because they have such great produce, and I can pick up my favorite ethnic foods that aren’t always so easy to find. Knowing that I’d be running, I wanted to experiment with a dinner that I could easily translate to a holiday appetizer for friends when entertaining or heading to a potluck. I picked up a chuck roast to make crockpot Mexican beef, as well as the La Morena Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce I use all the time in my Mexican cooking and some Maseca® Corn Flour because I was once again out after all the fun tamales and takes on tamales I’ve been making.
The crockpot Mexican beef was exactly what I needed because I could toss it all in the crockpot before I left the house and come home to dinner almost completely ready to eat. And since I made it with an almost 3 pound chuck roast, that means I have leftovers to enjoy rather than stressing about another meal.
I wanted to do something fun with the crockpot Mexican beef, but I didn’t want to take the time to make tamales or cook the beef again by making ramekin tamales or something along those lines, I decided to create masa cups. It’s essentially the same masa dough that I use in other places, but I baked them in my muffin tins and then filled them at my leisure with the crockpot Mexican beef, my awesome guacamole recipe, and some queso fresco.
To. Die. For.
And the best part is that I can make everything in advance and fill the masa cups with the crockpot Mexican beef when guests arrive to have a fancy little appetizer that wasn’t hard to make and can be eaten without a knife or fork – a total bonus when it comes to party food, right?
Before we get started on the recipes for the Mexican crockpot beef and the masa cups, a few pro tips on limes. Fresh lime juice always tastes best, and at Tony’s Finer Foods, they had limes on sale at 8 for $1, but those little suckers sometimes don’t give off as much juice as you want them to. And the crockpot Mexican beef and my guacamole both require lime juice, so figuring out how to maximize the lime juice and flavor you get for your money is key.
Pro Tips: How to Get the Most Lime Juice
First of all, you want to choose limes that aren’t necessarily the biggest or the greenest. That doesn’t guarantee a ton of juice. When you pick up your lime at the store, you want it to have a little bit of give when you squeeze it. You don’t want it to be mushy at all, but you don’t want one that is completely firm either. No give means that it’s either not ripe and won’t provide much juice or it’s old and the juice has dried up. Either way? Yuck.
The second tip – and one that sometimes surprises people – is to stick them in the microwave. Heating them up just a little, and I mean literally ten seconds for a lime, maybe 20-25 seconds for three, helps get the juices flowing and makes it more likely that you’ll get the most juice possible from your lime. You don’t want them actually warm to the touch, just heated a tiny bit is all you need.
Third? Roll your lime. When you roll it, this breaks down the cell walls and the membranes within your lime so more juice will flow. You don’t have to press down very hard and you certainly don’t want to split it open, but a little pressure and rolling will work wonders.
Next up, you want to zest your lime. The green part of the skin has a ton of great flavor, and whether you use it in this recipe or another, save your zest. Every time you use a lime (or lemon or orange – in fact, all these tips work with all those fruits), zest it and save the zest, tossing it into your recipe if it makes sense. You don’t want to get into the white part, as the pith is bitter, but lightly zesting to remove the green is a huge win.
Lastly, once you cut your lime in half and are ready to juice it, use a tool. Squeezing your lime by hand just doesn’t get everything out. I have a lemon juicer and an orange juicer. There is a lime size, too, but I find that limes fit just fine in the lemon one (though the orange is too big to be effective for lemons and limes – I’ve tried). Use your tool, whatever it is, to get the maximum extraction of juice. In fact, once I’ve squeezed all my limes, I’ll actually go back and put the “empty” lime halves back into my juicer and squeeze again and get another tablespoon or so of lime juice from them.
Crockpot Mexican Beef in Masa Cups Recipe
The good news is that no part of this crockpot Mexican beef served in masa cups recipe is really “hard” and for the amount of food it makes, the effort required is minimal. Can I get a hallelujah for crockpots? I love making guacamole myself – partly because my guac recipe has a secret ingredient I love, but to make this come together even faster, you can pick up premade guacamole instead and use that. Voila!
The first step is to chop and mince your onions, garlic and jalapeno. The onion doesn’t need to be as small as the garlic and jalapeno, but you don’t want it too big. Add those to the bottom of your crockpot.
Pro tip when adding jalapeno. You probably already know to remove the seeds to cut down on the heat. Did you also know that a ton of the heat resides in the white ribs that line the inside of your jalapeno? Remove those, as well, to reduce the heat while still getting that awesome jalapeno kick.
Another pro tip? Now that you’ve cut onion, garlic, and jalapeno, your hands…smell. And you really, really want to be careful about touching your face or eyes. But there is a magic trick you can use that will solve all those problems quickly for you. Go ahead and wash your hands. They still smell like your onion and garlic. And you still don’t want to touch your face. Now grab a spoon from your kitchen and rub your fingers and hands all over that stainless steel spoon. Smell them. Magic. Stainless steel will absorb the smell, and it will also absorb most of the heat from the jalapeno. I’m not telling you to go rub your eyes nonstop, but this makes a major difference.
Before you season your meat for the crockpot Mexican beef, make the sauce you’ll use to cook it. Add the can of tomato sauce and cumin to a small bowl. Pull out 3 to four of the chipotle peppers from your La Morena can (do you notice I always have an extra on hand “just in case” I need it?), and mince them. Add them to the bowl as well.
Using the tips outlined above, juice three limes, which should give you a quarter cup of lime juice. Add this to your mix, as well, and stir thoroughly to combine.
Season your roast with salt and pepper on all sides, and add it to your crockpot over the onions, garlic, and jalapenos. Pour the tomato mixture atop it, and set the heat to low. Cook for 8 to 10 hours. Once it has cooked, you can use tongs or a fork to shred the crockpot Mexican beef and serve.
While the crockpot Mexican beef is cooking, go ahead and make your masa cups, as well. These come together fairly quickly. Actually pressing them into your muffin cups takes the most time. This makes 24 masa cups for your crockpot Mexican beef, so prep muffin tins with 24 holes by lightly greasing them and preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Start your masa dough by warming your lard (or vegetable shortening if you can’t do lard) with your stock. You want this just warmed up without actually boiling or even steaming. As soon as it has melted, remove it from the heat.
In a mixing bowl, add your Maseca® Corn Flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir well, then add the broth and melted lard. Add in your adobo sauce from the La Morena chipotle peppers. Start on low and mix until combined then turn the speed up a bit and mix two to three minutes until lightly fluffy. You may need to add a little more broth (or water), depending on the humidity that day. Add it just a tablespoon at a time and mix thoroughly before checking. When you pick up a piece, you don’t want it to be sticky or wet, but you want it to hold together well and not feel at all dry or crumbly.
Place your entire ball of masa dough on your counter and use a board scraper or a dull knife to cut the ball in half. Cut it in half again to form 4 equal pieces, then in half again to get 8. Cut each of your eight pieces into thirds to make 24 lumps of masa dough in total. If you’re me, go ahead and use your scale to ensure they all weigh the same amount (36 grams) though they don’t have to be perfect and that is completely me being me.
Roll each lump into a ball and flatten slightly. Place each lump into the hole of a muffin and gently press so that it forms a cup within the hole, doing your best to keep the thickness even on the bottom and sides. Again, it doesn’t have to be perfect. Repeat with each of your lumps so that all 24 holes in your muffin tin are prepped. Bake for 15 minutes until lightly dry and a bit darker in color.
Let cool in the muffin tins for ten minutes to ensure they’ll hold their shape when you remove them. Once they’ve cooled initially, you can either serve them right away by filling the masa cups with the crockpot Mexican beef and topping with guacamole and queso fresco or let them cool fully on a cooling rack.
The masa cups will keep in a tightly sealed container for 2 to 3 days, but they are best that first day. If you are serving them after the first day, pop them in a 200 degree oven for five minutes to warm and soften them just a touch before filling with the crockpot Mexican beef and topping them.
- 1 c onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
- 1 8 oz can tomato sauce
- 1 t cumin
- 3 La Morena Chipotle Peppers, minced
- 1/4 c lime juice
- 2-3 lb chuck roast
- salt and pepper to taste
- 3 c Maseca corn flour
- 1 1/2 t baking powder
- 3 c chicken or beef broth
- 1 c lard (or vegetable shortening)
- 1-2 T adobo sauce from La Morena Chipotle Peppers
- Chop and mince your onion, garlic, and jalapeno. Add to the bottom of your crockpot.
- In a separate bowl, mix together the tomato sauce, cumin, minced chipotle peppers, and lime juice. Stir thoroughly and set aside.
- Salt and pepper all sides of the roast and add to the crockpot. Pour the reserved tomato mixture over the beef and set to low. Cook 8-10 hours, then shred with tongs or forks.
- To prepare the masa cups, preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Add the corn flour and baking powder to a bowl and stir to combine. In a pot, melt together the lard and the broth. As soon as the lard melts, remove from the stove.
- Pour the liquid over the corn flour and stir to combine. Add the adobo sauce and mix thoroughly. Turn speed up slightly and mix two to three minutes, until softer and fluffier. Squeeze a small ball to check the consistency. If it is dry or crumbles, add a tablespoon of water and check again after mixing. If it holds its shape when squeezed without feeling wet or sticky, it is ready.
- Cut the masa dough into 24 equal size lumps. Lightly grease muffin tins for a total of 24 muffin holes. Roll each lump into a ball and slightly flatten, then place in an empty hold and gently press to form a cup going up the sides with even thickness on the bottom and sides. Repeat for each of the 24 lumps.
- Bake for 15 minutes at 375 degrees, until they are dry and lightly golden. Cool in the muffin tins for ten minutes then remove to a cooling rack to cool further.
- Serve immediately by placing the shredded beef in the cup, topped with guacamole and queso fresco.
- The masa cups will keep at room temperature in a tightly sealed container for 2-3 days. Before serving, heat in a 200 degree oven for 5 minutes to warm and soften the masa cups.