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Recipes from our Ranch Table

Ranchlands Head of Food and Dining, Joseph Bartel, shares some of his favorite recipes from the Zapata Ranch kitchen: ways to prepare meat, some side dishes to compliment them, or just some sauces and salsas to top everything off.


One of our favorite ways to use a roast is to make shredded BBQ. Take your choice of roast and let it sit out at room temperature for an hour or so. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and after an hour, liberally season the roast on all sides with garlic salt, coarse black pepper, and kosher salt. Get your dutch oven ready by coating bottom with olive oil and heating on the stove to medium-high. Once the oil is hot, sear the roast on all accessible sides until a golden brown crust forms, maybe 3-5 minutes per side. Put the the roast in your preheated oven for 20 minutes, uncovered. During this time, gently heat some unfiltered apple cider on the stove. Make your own, if you’d like, but regardless, definitely add a couple oranges cut in quarters! For a 3 pound roast, you might need 2-3 cups of cider. After 20 minutes of uncovered cooking, add the apple cider and oranges to the roast, which should cover about half of it. If you need a little extra cider, just splash some more in. Tightly cover your dutch oven and let the roast braise for 3 hours, or until it easily pulls apart with with two forks. Remove the roast from the juices and let it cool until you can handle it, but save the juice. Shred the roast in to whatever sized pieces you want, then return it to the dutch oven and juices. At this point, you need to add your favorite BBQ sauce, probably 2-3 cups worth, but really, as much as you want. Incorporate the BBQ in to the juices and make sure the shredded roast is totally covered. Put the dutch oven on the stove at low heat and bring the dish to a low simmer and cover. Let the shredded roast cook down for another hour or so and it should real good to go. Make sure to have extra BBQ sauce on hand for this meal, along with dinner rolls, coleslaw, pickles and onions, and maybe some baked mac ‘n’ cheese if you want to go all out.


I absolutely don’t want to tell you how to make a taco, because I don’t want to offend anybody, but let me suggestion a few things that I think will set your tacos off. First, when you’re cooking your ground beef, use a taco seasoning that you prefer, but use a chili agave dressing, too. Chili agave dressing is a special thing; so delicious, so versatile, and simple. 1/2 cup agave (honey is okay, too), 1/2 cup soy sauce, 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, 1/2 cup Sriracha, and 1 1/2 cup olive oil. Use this as a seasoning, a marinade, a salad dressing, or dip some of your dinner bread into it, but definitely use it in your ground beef for tacos.


Next is a sauce and a salsa that, I think, will take your tacos to another level. Chipotle crema; in your food processor(or blender) blend 2 eggs, 2 tsp mustard powder, 2 tsp kosher salt, 1/4 tsp cayenne, and 1/2 cup of white vinegar. With the processor running, in a very, very slow stream, add 2 1/2 cups of olive oil. Things will continue to thicken as you add the oil. If you were to stop after adding the oil, you’d have yourself a real tasty house-made mayo. But, let’s keep going. Open a small can of chipotle peppers soaked in adobo sauce and toss one of the peppers, along with some adobo sauce, in to the crema and blend until smooth. The crema should take on the color of the peppers and turn salmon pink/maroon. At this point, taste and adjust the chipotle to your personal preference. I like the chipotle flavor to be stand out, so I’d probably add another pepper. Anyway, at the end of this, you’ll have a chipotle crema that’s really going to round out your dinner street tacos, but you’ll also find that it’s going to improve your breakfast and lunch, too. Put this on your scrambled eggs and potatoes, or spread this on your avocado BLT at lunch – it’ll be good.

Lastly, for your ground beef street tacos, make salsa verde! In a 400 degree oven, roast 1 1/2 pounds of tomatillos (skins off, and canned is fine, too) until browned on top. Cool the tomatillos completely before proceeding. When tomatillos are cool, get your food processor out and add the tomatillos, along with 2 jalapenos, 5 garlic cloves, one peeled and seeded avocado, 1 bunch of cilantro(stems are fine), 1/4 cup lime juice, 2 tbsp white vinegar, and 1 tsp kosher salt. Blend until smooth, and add a bit of water if too thick or too spicy. And that’s a salsa verde. Put that on your ground beef street tacos, along with the chipotle crema, and see how it treats ya.

Bon appetit!



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