I just realized that 2014 was the first (and hopefully only because I definitely have time to rectify the situation in 2015) year that I didn’t go to a basketball game. Except for a short lull in basketball fandom in high school, I was a loyal and enthusiastic Kentucky fan until my sophomore year at UNC. UNC wasn’t very good my freshman year, losing the NIT championship on the heels of an NCAA win, so I used their lackluster performance as an excuse to slow the drip of Kentucky royal blue blood that was steadily leaving my veins. When my family poked fun at me for going to Carolina, though, I promptly recited “If God isn’t a Tarheel, then why is the sky Carolina blue?”
Regardless of my wavering allegiances as a wide-eyed freshman, by the next basketball season, any recollections of my Kentucky fandom had turned into a repulsion and disgust of the color, that evil, same royal Duke blue. Not only did I know the ropes as a UNC student, but I became a true Carolina fan and will remain one for the rest of my life.
Although I sometimes seem really into basketball, it wasn’t always this way. I became a basketball fan by way of food; my dad persuaded me with food to go to athletic events with him. Football promised kettle corn and lemon ices while basketball led to planning of barbeque sandwiches, personal pizzas, M&Ms and soft-serve ice cream. Child-me licked her chops at the thought of sports. Alas, that still happens at the thought of a Super Bowl party or meeting friends at bars for March Madness.
I primarily make this spicy shredded beef when I’m looking for an easy dinner that requires hardly any work and yields many meals, but it just registered that it’s an ideal dish for basketball viewing, slightly reminiscent of my beloved BBQ sandwiches during UK basketball games. The meat is spicy and packed with flavor, similar to those common in tacos but better, and the meat falls apart perfectly for messy but fantastic sandwiches. I like to serve it as an open-faced sandwich with tomatoes, a blob of sour cream and a handful of cabbage on top, digging in with a knife and fork, but it’s also an ideal filling for tacos, quesadillas, and salads. Whether you make it for a busy day or a basketball game on TV, you’re sure to be glad you did.
Note: If you can’t cook on high for one hour because you are putting the meat in and then leaving the house for the day, try to get the meat started cooking before getting ready. Cook it on high for as long as it takes you to get read, and right before you leave, turn it down. It’ll be fine if it only cooks on high for 30 minutes.
I like to make french fries to eat with these. They just seem like the appropriate side.
1-2 ½ pound boneless chuck roast
1- 14 ½ ounce can diced tomatoes
1-7 ounce char medium or mild salsa
1 4-ounce can jalapeno peppers, drained
1 large onion, diced
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon honey
2 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1-14 ½ can low sodium beef broth
bread or rolls, shredded cabbage, sliced red onion, sour cream and sliced tomato to serve
1. Place beef in a slow-cooker. Add all the rest of the ingredients (except those for serving), pouring the broth in last over the top of the other ingredients.
2. Cover and cook on high for 1 hour; then reduce to low and cook for 7 hours. If desired, remove the lid during the last 30 minutes of cooking to thicken the sauce.
3. Use a ladle to remove half of the sauce from the cooker; reserve to serve on rice, or transfer it to an empty bottle to throw it away.
4. Using two forks, shred the meat in the cooker. Stir the meat to incorporate sauce in it, and then serve on toasted bread with desired toppings.