The best taco I ever had was from a street vendor in Los Angeles. The meat was so tender it fell apart as I bit into it and the fresh pico de gallo was bursting with bright flavors. The avocado was just the right firmness and provided a wonderful cooling balance to the hot meat and the spicy pico de gallo. I’ve been trying to recreate this experience ever since and I think I’ve finally figured it out. The result is this recipe for slow cooker carne asada tacos.
If you’ve ever been to an authentic Mexican restaurant, you know that the list of possible ingredients for tacos is practically endless. There are your standards: pork, beef (ground or shredded), bean, chicken, or fish. And there are your more exotic: tongue…eh, let’s not list the rest of the exotic ones. Not too appetizing, if you ask me! But the basic idea of a taco is some kind of protein, served in an easy-to-eat wrapper.
So for this recipe, I knew I wanted beef, and after some trial and error I found that rump of flank steak works best. It gets the most tender during the cooking process. It’s important not to skimp on the cooking time – that’s what will make the meat super tender. So pick a day when you can get it all going in the morning, let it cook all day in the slow cooker, and come home to an amazing meal.
The next most important part of this dish is the flavor – and it took me a while to get this right. I was able to guess the standard Mexican ingredients – lime juice, chili, and cilantro, with a little honey to sweeten it up. I also knew there was a hint of orange, so instead of going with processed orange juice, I went right to the source – the juice of half a fresh orange. That way I didn’t have a whole carton of orange juice gone to waste. I was able to buy just one orange and took two seconds to get its sweet and sunshine-filled juice squeezed into a bowl.
I played around for quite a while to figure out the rest of the ingredients. I called friends over for tastings. I asked other cooks about their recipes. I cooked and tasted and cooked and tasted. It needed more of a tanginess than the citrus was providing. Hence, the white wine vinegar.
As this dish cooks, the ingredients blend together so well that it was hard to pick out individual flavors. They build on one another to make a complex, slightly fruity, rich-flavored sauce for the steak. But when I finally got it, I knew it was right!
Of course, since this is a Paleo dish, I skip the corn or wheat tortillas and grab lettuce to contain all the taco ingredients or, if I’m serving them as hors d’oeuvres, I fry up some slices of sweet potato and serve the meat and toppings open faced.
For me, avocado on top is a must – I like mine sliced or diced, not mashed up, but do it the way you like it. And I never skip a little pico de gallo to add more veggies and flavor. So glad I finally figured out how to make these slow cooked carne asada tacos because now I don’t have to go all the way to California when I want one!
You may also like:
- 1 lb rump or flank steak
- ½ orange, juiced
- 1 lime, juiced
- 1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
- 1 tsp honey
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 dried chili, chopped
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- lettuce leaves, fried sweet potato slices ¼ '' thick
- sliced or cubed avocado
- chopped red onion,
- chopped fresh cilantro
- salt, pepper to taste
- lime wedges
- In a small bowl mix the orange juice, lime juice, olive oil, garlic, chili, cilantro, white wine vinegar, honey, salt and black pepper.
- Place the beef in a Dutch oven or slow cooker and pour orange juice mixture over beef.
- Cover with a lid and cook on low for 6 hours.
- Remove the beef from slow cooker, place it on a cutting board and slice.
- Serve in lettuce leaves or over fried potato slices with avocado, chopped red onion, chopped cilantro or pico de gallo (http://paleogrubs.com/pico-de-gallo-recipe).
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