I'm pretty sure I've said this before, but tacos are my absolute favorite food. I've never met a taco I didn't like. Yes, some are certainly fancier than others but they all have their place in my book (belly). This one is definitely on the more labor intensive end, but you get what you put into it. There's a lot going on flavor-wise in these tacos. Guajillo and pasilla chiles are both known for their fruity, earthy, smoky flavor. But, they both have their own unique flavor profiles and aromas. When combined, they make the perfect base for these tacos.
The cooking method for these tacos is something special. The chile sauce is so full of flavor on its own. But then you caramelize it in the cooking fat from the meat and it fills your kitchen with the most intoxicating aroma. Adding the cinnamon sticks to the sauce and slow cooking it all day creates the most amazing smell. If I could bottle it up and make it into a candle, I'd burn that thing every day. No kidding.
Bone-in blade roasts are the perfect cut of meat for tacos (and this pozole rojo recipe). It's an awkward cut to work with if you're not a skilled butcher so it often ends up going into the grind pile. But, you can save yourself a lot of work if you leave it whole instead. When shoulders are cooked low and slow, fully immersed in liquid, they becomes so tender and shred effortlessly.
This recipe can be cooked in a crockpot, but I prefer to use the "OG crock pot" (dutch oven) because it's my favorite. There's something special about dutch oven cooking that I really enjoy. Plus, it's nice to be able to move it from the stove to the fridge, back to the stove, and in the oven while only dirtying one dish.
Oh pickled onions... If you've been following along for a while now, you'll see that I really do love these things. I'd probably put them on everything if I could. They're so simple to make but really pack a punch in the flavor department. They're perfect for these tacos because they add a nice acidic crunch to balance out the richness of the meat. Sure you could just do plain diced onions, but where's the fun in that?
My husband says I go too crazy with taco toppings so I tried to rein it in this time and just focus on the meat. It pains me to say this, but he's right. The simplicity of the toppings are the perfect compliment to the meat without overpowering it. In the end, the meat is what you really came here for, right?
Here's a link to my favorite store-bought corn tortillas. If you can find them at your grocery store, you won't be disappointed! Oh, and don't forget to serve your tacos with an ice cold Modelo and a lime wedge. Enjoy!
Shredded Venison Street Tacos
- dutch oven or crock pot
- 6 large guajillo chiles (more if they're small)
- 4 large pasilla chiles (more if they're small)
- 6 cloves garlic, unpeeled
- 1 onion, quartered
- 3 chipotles in adobo sauce
- 1 tablespoon Mexican oregano
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoon honey
- ½ cup olive oil
- 1 bone-in venison blade roast (or other bone-in cut)
- freshly ground salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoon lard (or oil)
Other Marinade Ingredients:
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 3 bay leaves
- 6 cups stock
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- ½ cup water
- 2 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 ripe avocados, sliced
- ½ cup cilantro, chopped
- 1 cup queso fresco, crumbled
- lime wedges
- 16 corn tortillas
- Place chiles and garlic in microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 1.5 minutes or until chiles are soft and flexible. Remove stems and seeds from chiles. Peel garlic. Add chiles and garlic to blender. Add remaining chile sauce ingredients to blender and blend until smooth. Set aside.
- Season blade roast all over with salt and pepper. Heat lard or oil in a dutch oven over medium heat.
- Sear blade roast on all sides possible until browned, about 2 minutes per side. They are a unique shape, so just do your best to get all of the sides.
- Remove blade roast to plate. Add more lard to dutch oven if there is not enough left to coat the bottom of the pan. Add in chile sauce. Stir frequently until fragrant and slightly browned.
- Add in broth, cinnamon sticks, and bay leaves. Stir until combined. Add blade roast to sauce and make sure liquid covers the whole roast. Refrigerate overnight or continue to next step.
- Preheat oven to 250°F. Heat dutch oven with meat and marinade over medium heat until mixture begins to boil. Cover and place in oven for 6-8 hours or until meat is tender and falls off the bone. If using a crockpot, cook on low for 8-10 hours.
- Remove meat to a plate and shred. Strain broth through a fine mesh strainer. Use a spoon to push as much of the chile sauce through the strainer as possible. Use a spatula to scrape the outside of the strainer. The goal is to still get as much of the sauce back into the pan, but remove any gritty pieces. Add sauce and meat back to dutch oven and return to the oven for 20 minutes or until heated through.
- While meat is cooking, make pickled onions. Do this early on in the cooking process or the day ahead so they have enough time to marinate and cool down.
- Combine all ingredients except onions in a small saucepan. Heat until boiling and sugar has dissolved. Put sliced onions in quart size glass jar. Pour vinegar mixture over onions. Let cool at room temperature for 30 minutes. Store in refrigerator for up to 1 month.
- Warm tortillas. To each tortilla, add shredded meat, cheese, pickled onions, avocado slices and cilantro. Serve with lime wedges.
- Place meat with enough sauce to cover the meat in a freezer zippered bag or vacuum bag. Squeeze the air out and freeze flat on a sheet pan. Freeze for up to 6 months. Thaw and reheat using the boil-in-bag method (if stored in a heat-safe bag) or reheat in a pan on the stove.