Vietnamese Braised Beef Tacos {plus spicy cucumber margaritas}

This past Saturday was one of those days that I didn’t want to end.  The perfect mix of productivity and relaxation.  After a morning workout and massage, we spent the better part of the day soaking up the hot sunshine and staying cool in the pool.  Once home and showered, our day date officially started.

We kicked off the evening by preparing the ingredients for Spicy Cucumber Margaritas.  (I used a combo of recipes/techniques, but this was the inspiration.)

(On Friday night, we infused tequila with cucumber:  slice a cucumber and place in a mason jar; fill the mason jar with white tequila and let stand at room temperature for 24 hours.)

First, prepare the cucumber puree:  peel and chop an English cucumber and add it to a blender with 1/2 cup fresh orange juice.  Once blended, strain.

On a shallow plate, combine 1 tablespoon each of coarse salt, sugar and chili powder.

Rub the edge of a glass with a lime wedge and then dip into the salt/sugar mix.  Add ice to the glass.

In a cocktail shaker, muddle a slice of jalapeno then add ice, 2 ounces cucumber infused tequila, 2 ounces of the cucumber puree, 1 ounce simple sugar and the juice of one lime.

Shake, shake, shake!  Strain into the rimmed glass.

Sip with smile on your face.

These go on the list of one of my top 5 margarita experiences.  Sweet, a little spicy and totally refreshing.  The infused tequila is the secret to this margarita.

But you can’t have a margarita without guacamole.  At least not around our house.

We really trashed up the guacamole with bacon (!!!!), caramelized pineapple, and feta.

I’m going to be honest – I think I’m a guacamole purist.  While I can’t deny I ate quite a few chips with this trashed up guac, I adore simple guacamole.  The simplest of recipes includes avocados, lime juice, salt (lots of salt), a little red onion, jalapeno and cilantro.

The star of the evening was dinner, though.

Without hesitation, I deem these the best tacos I’ve ever had.

The flavor profile of Vietnamese Braised Beef Tacos is like nothing I’ve ever tasted.

The tacos take a little time in the oven but it’s totally worth the wait.  Chunks of boneless chuck roast are seared before sauteeing diced onion, shallot and garlic.  Along with the beef, carrots, crushed tomatoes and beef broth are added to the Dutch oven.  And for the flavor, star anise, a cinnamon stick, Chinese five spice, brown sugar, a bay leave and fish sauce.

These are not your typical Tuesday night tacos.

After 3 hours, the meat is so tender is falls apart.  Taco assembly is simple:  charred corn tortillas (I used a cast iron skillet), green onion, jalapeno slices and chopped cilantro.

The tacos are sweet yet spicy bursting with flavor from the star anise, cinnamon and Chinese five spice.

And these recipe would feed a crowd – though I’m betting the leftovers are just as incredible as they were on Saturday.

Cucumber in my margarita, bacon in my guacamole and cinnamon studded tacos.

Could taco night get any weirder?