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Poor Man’s Burnt Ends Taco Meat (Chuck Roast)

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As expensive as beef brisket has become, this is a fun way to get your feet wet and try your hand at some inexpensive “burnt ends” turned into taco meat! Absolutely DELICIOUS and perfect for tacos, burritos, nachos, quesadillas, enchiladas and these fantastic stuffed tomatoes! No carbs, just all the fun and flavors! 


Chuck roast is a relatively inexpensive cut of meat due to it being very tough. So, “braising” is one of the best ways to cook it until it melts in your mouth! “Braising” simply means to sear the meat on the outside, mostly for extra flavor, then add liquid, and slow cook it over low heat, (covered with a tight-fitting lid), for several hours.

The longer you cook it, the more tender it will get, breaking down all of the tough connective tissue, and melting the fat until it pulls apart easily with two forks, or cuts like a hot knife through butter! 

You want to choose a nice piece that has good marbling of fat throughout, but you also want to cut away any of the large chunks of fat. This is easily done when cutting into bite-sized pieces. Just trim away most of the excess leaving a little for flavor. 




*Remember, beef shrinks a bit when it cooks, so always cut pieces larger than what you want to end up with.

Once all of the meat is cut up, add the spice mix and toss well. You want all of the pieces to have a nice coating on all sides. 





I did this on my smoker, placing all of the pieces of beef onto sprayed baking racks. I didn’t want them to fall through the grates on the smoker, and this worked extremely well! 





I slow-smoked them over low heat until a nice mahogany color, while in the meantime, I prepped my sauce in a simple aluminum foil pan from the grocery store.  





 I whipped up a very simple marinade/sauce that used just 3 ingredients! You can spice it up more if you like, maybe add extra garlic, chili powder, cumin, etc., but this worked really, really well and didn’t totally mask the flavor of the beef. 

*And remember!!, we already spiced the beef before cooking, so be careful if you play with the sauce that you don’t overdo it! 





I used mild for my hubby’s palate, but you can go as hot as you can take it! Just keep in mind that the spice mix has quite a nice kick already, so be careful. Especially if anyone has trouble with spicy-hot food. 

You can always add, but you can’t take away! 




When the meat has cooked until a nice color, a deep mahogany, but not dried out, transfer it to your pan of sauce. Place it all in one layer if possible, stirring to coat all of the pieces well. 






Once in the pan, cover it tightly with a sheet of foil sealing well. 





Then place back into the smoker until it’s super tender and melts in your mouth! 





We enjoyed this for several days serving it first as tacos, then nachos…





…but our favorite way was when we simply had it piled onto fresh summer tomatoes! 




Just slice through the top cutting almost all the way down, and keep slicing into wedges that are connected at the bottom. Then just fan them out a little to hold all that yummy beef! 





I placed the tomatoes on top of a bed of chopped lettuce, then filled the tomatoes with the beef, and then added shredded Mexican blend cheese and an olive to finish! 





We also enjoyed these with sour cream and guacamole on the side. 





They looked so pretty, you’d think they came from a nice Mexican restaurant! (Sans the hefty price tag!) 




These Poor Man’s Burnt Ends turned out to be one of our favorites of the entire summer! I’m so glad I went the extra mile and turned them into Taco Meat! 

And if you don’t have a smoker, just simply sear the coated beef chunks in a  little oil in a frying pan, transfer to a baking dish with the sauce, cover tightly, and bake in a 300º F – 325º F oven for several hours until buttery tender! It’s that easy! (You could also cook them in the sauce in a slow-cooker as well.) Whatever is most convenient.

This was so super fun to make and eat, that I do hope you give this a try, too! It just might be a new way for you and your family to enjoy Mexican food without even leaving your house! Enjoy! And have a happy fall, ya’ll!! 

Poor Man's Burnt Ends Taco Meat (Chuck Roast)
Yield: 4 lbs.

Poor Man's Burnt Ends Taco Meat (Chuck Roast)

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 30 minutes

Melt in your mouth tender bites of slow smoked beef taco bites for your next Mexican Fiesta! Delicious and budget friendly!


  • 4 - 5 lbs. chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2 - 2" cubes
  • For Seasoning Mix:
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt, add more later to taste
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. chipotle powder, can sub paprika
  • 2 tsp. onion powder
  • 4 tsp. chili powder
  • 4 tsp. sweet smoked paprika
  • 4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 5 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. light or dark brown sugar
  • For Sauce:
  • 2 1/2 cups (20 oz.) taco sauce
  • 2 cups (16 oz.) chunky salsa
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz.) beef broth
  • 1 reserved tsp. Seasoning Mix


  1. In small bowl, add Seasoning Mix ingredients and stir well to mix, set aside.
  2. Cut chuck roast into 2" chunks, trimming away excess fat. Place into large bowl.
  3. Save aside 1 teaspoon Seasoning Mix, and add rest, sprinkling, over chuck roast cubes, tossing to coat all sides well. Set aside.
  4. Heat smoker to 275º F. Place beef cubes onto sprayed baking racks. Place in smoker and cook for 1 - 1 1/2 hours.
  5. While beef is cooking, add Sauce ingredients and the 1 teaspoon reserved Seasoning Mix to a large, glass measuring pitcher. Whisk to mix.
  6. Spray 9x9 aluminum foil pan, add beef cubes, pour sauce over, stir well to coat. Make sure meat is in one even layer. Cover tightly with foil, and place back into smoker. Cook for 2 - 3 hours longer until very super soft and tender. Taste, you may need a bit more salt.
  7. Serve as meat for tacos, burritos, nachos, quesadillas, enchiladas or stuffed tomatoes! Enjoy!!


If preferred, you can sear seasoned beef cubes in a frying pan with a little oil until browned on all sides. Then remove and either bake (with sauce) in oven in a covered pan for several hours at 325º F, or place into a slow cooker (with sauce) and cook for 3 - 4 hours, or until tender.



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Monday 30th of October 2023

Your Burnt Ends Taco Meat looks delicious. Keep those recipes coming.

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