Shredded Red Chile Meat

Sam Kaplan

This recipe for a kind of shredded chile-sauced meat — beef, pork, chicken or lamb — is a perfect filling for tamales or tacos.

Makes: About 3 cups
Time: 2 hours or more


  • 2 pounds boneless beef chuck, pork shoulder, lamb shoulder, or chicken thigh meat, cut into 1-inch cubes

  • 5 garlic cloves, lightly crushed

  • 1 large onion, quartered

  • 2 dried guajillo chiles, seeds and stems removed

  • 2 dried ancho chiles, seeds and stems removed

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • Cayenne (optional)


1. In a large pot or Dutch oven, combine all the ingredients except the cayenne. Add water to cover and bring to a boil, skimming off any foam that comes to the surface. Partly cover, and adjust the heat so that the mixture bubbles steadily; cook until the meat is very tender, 1 to 2 hours.

2. Transfer the meat to a bowl, reserving the cooking liquid. When the meat is cool, shred it with your fingers. Transfer the garlic, onion, and chiles (discard the bay leaf) to a blender along with a splash of the cooking liquid. Blend until smooth. Add the sauce to the meat and toss. Taste, adding a little cayenne if you want it spicier; you may want to over-season the meat slightly if you’re using it as a filling. Use, or store in the fridge for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to a few months.

Recipe from Mark Bittman’s Kitchen Matrix (Photo: Sam Kaplan)