slow-cooked mexican pulled beef & beans on soft cheesy polenta

Goood morning. I am well over due to get up and get cranking, but wanted to quickly share this before the weekend. It’s looking set to be freezing, wild weather around the country, and this is the antidote – super-slow cooked Mexican spiced beef and beans on soft, cheesy polenta. The whole thing is so perfect for entertaining as the beef is made completely in advance while the polenta takes just a few minutes before serving. Serve with loads of fresh coriander, and if you like, a sprinkling of thinly sliced red onion for a little contrasting sharp crunch with that soft, spicy beef. Any left-over beef also makes a great filling for quesadillas, tacos or burritos along side fresh tomato and avocado with a little sour cream and an extra squirt of hot sauce πŸ™‚

What else? Poor Henry is wrangling his flat move with an ever-changing set of circumstances, it’s like trying to run on quick sand, and Rich is, in this moment, contemplating a new exercise regime which is so damned good. Pog is already a yoga fiend like me, but Rich is usually focussed on team sport rather than fitness for it’s own benefits, so that is totally brilliant news. (As an ex-boot camp personal trainer I can’t conceive of being happy without some form of exercise – these days for me it ‘s slightly dorky power walking and loads of yoga, and I bloody love it!). We shall see how that progresses but he is actually craving (I think) healthier food and the feel-good factor of moving your body. Anyhoo, lots of work to be done, have a great weekend, and if you haven’t already, come and say hi at my FB or instaΒ or leave a comment below!

Β 1.4 kilos beef brisket
2 tbs chipotle hot sauce
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large dried ancho chilli (quite mild)
1 red onion, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp sweet smoked paprika
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp chilli powder
800g peeled chopped tomatoes
400g can black beans, drained
400g kidney beans, drained
extra chipotle hot sauce to taste
1/2 cup coriander leaves to garnish
1/4 red onion, finely sliced, to garnish

Brush the beef all over with hot sauce then bung in the slow cooker and cook for at least 8 hours, and up to 10. Leave to cool in juices. (This can be done the day before!) Put dried chilli in a small bowl and cover with 1/2 cup of boiling water. Leave for half an hour to soften, then remove stalk and whiz to form a dark, softly smoky paste. Heat olive oil in a large heavy based pot and cook onion for 8-10 minutes. Add ancho chilli paste, garlic, paprika, cumin, oregano and chilli powder and cook for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook for 30 minutes, add beans and cook a further 30 minutes. At this point the flavours will be quite grunty, but they will be softened with the addition of the beef. Add the beef back into the slow cooker to warm through for half an hour then shred and add to the bean mix with the beef cooking juices. Mix to combine, then if desired add a little more chipotle sauce. Serve on soft polenta with a good sprinkling of coriander and I like a little extra red onion for the sharp crunch – optional of course! This mixture is also awesome rolled up in burritos, or even rolled up in burrito wraps, smothered in buffalo mozzarella and tasty cheese, a drizzle of chipotloe and oven-baked πŸ™‚

500g quick-cooking polenta
1 litre water
1 litre milk
plenty of sea salt and black pepper
1 cup grated tasty cheese

50g butter, cubed

Heat water and milk in a large pot until almost boiling. Add polenta in a steady stream, whisking constantly as you do. Continue stirring on a low heat for about 3 minutes. Add cheese and butter and season well with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.


  1. This looks delicious! I love Mexican inspired dishes. They always seem to cheer me up and make my belly happy.
    Would you recommend adding a bit of sour cream on top for a fresh taste along side the rich beef and polenta?

  2. Hi Sarah,

    Does this recipe work without slow cooker?
    I am an addicted reader of your blog:-)
    Sunny regards,

    1. Hi – yes definitely, you can slow cook the beef in the oven, pour enough liquid (beer would be good) around the beef to almost reach the top, cover with tinfoil and cook at about 160˚C for 4-5 hours – remove tinfoil, increase the temperature to 180˚C and give it another half an hour…I reckon that would do it! πŸ™‚

    1. Hi Karthiga – 6-8 depending on how big appetites are, and what else you are serving with it, ie starter or dessert πŸ™‚

  3. Hi Sarah,
    One small question… You don’t add any liquids 8n the slow cooker? Only the 2 tablespoon of chipotle hot sauce?
    Does this not dry out the meat during cooking?


    1. Hi Gio, gosh it is such a long time since I made this! But no, the slow-cooker seemed to lock in the moisture πŸ™‚

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