This recipe for Mexican slow-cooked beef has a wonderful texture, a rich flavour and makes a delicious taco when stuffed in a fresh corn tortilla. The ancho and and guajillo chillies have a deep and fruity flavour, and are used without the seeds to keep the heat optional, to be added if desired by a couple of great salsas.






Skill level

Average: 3.2 (43 votes)


  • 3 guajillo chillies, seeded and toasted (see Note)
  • 2 mulato chillies, seeded and toasted (see Note)
  • 5 tomatoes, boiled until soft
  • 8 garlic cloves, boiled until soft
  • 3 Mexican bay leaves
  • 30 ml vegetable oil
  • 1.2 kg beef shin
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp Mexican oregano
  • 750 ml (3 cups) water

Salsa roja

  • 2 small dried chipotle chillies
  • 4 ripe roma tomatoes
  • ½ white onion, cut into quarters
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 125 ml (½ cup) water
  • salt, to taste


  • 2 limes, juiced
  • salt
  • 2 roma tomatoes
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 jalapeño chilli, seeds and membranes removed
  • 8 spring onions
  • 4 large ripe avocados
  • 4 sprigs coriander, chopped

Chiles toreados en salsa de soya

  • 2 cups mixed whole fresh chillies
  • 30 ml vegetable oil
  • 1 white onion, sliced
  • 50 ml dark soy sauce
  • 20 ml water
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar

Wild mushroom garnish

  • 30 ml vegetable oil
  • 150 g wild mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 bunch squash tendrils, tips only
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • salt, to taste

To serve

  • 500 g corn tortillas, warmed
  • 4 limes, cut into cheeks


Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


In a non-reactive bowl, soak the toasted guajillo and mulato chillies in warm water for 10 minutes or until softened. Drain and blend with the tomato, cloves, garlic, and bay leaves until fine. 

Heat a 30 cm heavy-based saucepan over medium. Add the vegetable oil. Season the beef shin with salt. Cook each piece for 4 minutes or until nicely browned on both sides. (Cook only 1 or 2 pieces at a time to ensure the pan stays hot.) Reserve each piece as it is ready.

Add the diced onion and cook for 5 minutes or until softened. Return beef to the pan, and then add the chilli puree. Bring to the boil. Add the water. Bring to a simmer and cook gently, topping up the water as needed, for 3 hours or until beef is tender and the sauce is thick and the consistency of a curry sauce.

Meanwhile, make the accompaniments.

To make the salsa roja, remove the stems from the chillies. Cut open and remove seeds. Using a comal or frying pan, roast the tomato, onion and garlic for 5–8 minutes or until the tomatoes are cooked though and the onion is soft and translucent.

In the same pan, quickly toast the chillies, pressing flat with tongs to ensure even toasting, for 20 seconds each side, or until puffed up slightly. Combine all ingredients and add the water and salt in a blender. Process until smooth. Adjust seasoning and set aside.

To make the guacamole, place the lime juice in a large mixing bowl and add salt. Toast the tomatoes, garlic, chilli and spring onions on a comal or dry frying pan over medium heat for 5–10 minutes, turning as they soften, until blackened. Transfer to a chopping board. Roughly chop the tomato. Finely chop the garlic, chilli and shallots. Place all ingredients into the bowl with the lime juice and mix thoroughly. Roughly dice the avocado and mix through. Add the chopped coriander, then check for seasoning.

To prepare the chiles toreados, heat a comal or dry frying pan over medium. Cook chillies for 3–4 minutes, turning, until charred. Set aside. Heat a 25 cm frying pan over medium and add the oil. Cook the onion gently, without colouring, for 4 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to the boil. Add the chillies and let cool.

When the beef is tender, remove the bones from the stew and check the consistency and seasoning. Place the finished stew in a clean serving dish and keep warm. 

To prepare the mushroom garnish, heat a 20 cm frying pan over medium. Add the oil and mushroom and garlic and cook for 3–4 minutes. Season and add the tendrils, and cook for a further 1 minute as they soften. Place in a warmed bowl and serve immediately with the beef, warmed tortillas, lime cheeks, salsas and chillies for each person to make their own to taste.


• Mulato and guajillo chillies are available from speciality food stores and Mexican grocers. If mulato chilli is unavailable, the more common ancho chilli is a good substitute.