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Need something new for breakfast? Try this breakfast “machaca”. This recipe is a spin on a favorite dish from a local diner that we love. Machaca hails from Northern Mexico and the Southwestern U.S. and is full of flavor. This dish will keep you full all morning long.
Today’s breakfast “machaca” recipe is my spin on one of my favorite breakfast dishes from a local diner hubby and I occasionally go to. Breakfast is always a little tricky at most restaurants since I can’t eat gluten or pork. Not a lot of breakfast places in our area have many gluten-free options so it’s always a special treat when we find a place that has something that I can enjoy. I do love making breakfast at home, but sometimes there’s just nothing like having an early meal at a favorite restaurant.
We went to this little “hole in the wall” diner on a whim one time after we moved to a new part of town. And I’m so glad we did. It has become a favorite spot for a quick morning meal now. And I loved this breakfast “machaca” so much that I just knew I had to recreate it at home using my favorite real food ingredients.
My Non-Traditional “Machaca”
The reason I put this breakfast “machaca” in quotes is that it doesn’t quite fit the traditional definition of machaca (which we’ll talk about below). But, that is what the diner calls it and that’s what I’m calling it. 🙂
The restaurant version that I was introduced to consists of ground beef that is sauteed with onions, mushrooms, and jalapenos. It is then served with homestyle potatoes (that are super thinly sliced) and eggs of your choice. It is normally smothered in pork green chili and then your choice of corn or flour tortillas are served on the side.
Since I don’t eat pork, I order it with enchilada sauce. I also have to skip the tortillas since I can’t do wheat or corn. The waitress sometimes looks at me weird when I order it with enchilada sauce, but it is delicious! This modified breakfast “machaca” version is the one I am sharing with you today and I’m so excited!
What is Machaca?
Machaca is a Northern Mexico / Southwestern U.S. dish that was traditionally made using dried meat (typically beef or pork). The meat was then rehydrated and pounded to make tender. It was used in a variety of recipes for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. If dried meat was not easily accessible, then slow cooked brisket or skirt steak is typically substituted. (source)
The meat can be used in a multitude of ways from being rolled up into flautas, tacos, or burritos or served alongside eggs, onions, and peppers (similar to my diner version above). In most places where traditional machaca is served, it will come with gigantic flour tortillas (sometimes 20″ across!). According to Wikipedia, machaca is a really popular breakfast or bunch item served with eggs and associated with miners in the state of Chihuahua, Mexico. (source)
While drying meat is one of the oldest forms of preservation, the ranchers and cowboys of Northern Mexico perfected the art of drying beef with native spices and chili peppers. Since refrigeration is so common now, dehydration is not really needed for preservation, but dried meat is still sold for cooking and snacking in Mexico. It’s most common in the northern regions and produced by small-scale operations. (source)
Recipe Notes for Breakfast “Machaca”
Have I mentioned that this breakfast “machaca” is one of my favorite breakfasts? 🙂 It’s so easy to make a big batch of it for meals throughout the week. I often will do a large batch on a Sunday and then eat on it for the rest of the week. It also makes a great lunch or dinner, so don’t feel like you have to just eat it for breakfast.
Ground Beef or Any Other Cut of Your Choice
Since the diner version of breakfast “machaca” that I first became accustomed to used ground beef, that is what I also used for this recipe. Ground beef is something I almost always have on hand and it’s the most affordable type when you’re purchasing grass-fed meat.
All that said, if you prefer to use another type of meat, you can certainly do that. Brisket, flank steak, skirt steak, etc. would all be delicious. Whatever tickles your taste buds will work perfectly in this breakfast “machaca” recipe.
The diner version of this breakfast “machaca” serves this recipe with homestyle potatoes, which have been thinly sliced (like scalloped potato style) and then fried up to get all crispy on the outside. In my home recreation, I used rough chopped, steamed cauliflower in place of the potatoes since potatoes are something that I can only tolerate in small amounts. If you can tolerate potatoes, then substitute your favorite breakfast potato with this recipe.
Cauliflower is one of my favorite veggies, but if you don’t like cauliflower, feel free to substitute any veggies of your choice here. You could use broccoli, cabbage, or even sauteed greens as a delicious base. Sometimes I enjoy chard and mustard greens with dishes like this breakfast “machaca”.
Spice and Sauce Ideas
Whenever I get a plate of this breakfast “machaca” at the diner, there are always huge chunks of jalapenos cooked in with the meat. They add so much flavor to the dish as a whole, but if you don’t like spicy foods, feel free to omit them completely. Or sub in a milder pepper in place of the jalapenos. Poblano peppers would be amazing in this recipe.
Since I don’t eat pork, I use enchilada sauce or a vegetarian green chili for this breakfast “machaca” recipe, but you could use whatever you want. I really like the vegetarian green chili from 505 brand (you should be able to find it at your local grocery store). It has great flavor and texture. But I also LOVE enchilada sauce so that remains my personal favorite.
Dairy and Tortillas
If you can tolerate dairy, feel free to top all of this with some of your favorite shredded cheese and/or sour cream. That is how the diner serves it, but I omitted that since dairy and I are just not friends. 🙁 You could definitely use a dairy-free cheese in this breakfast “machaca” recipe if there is one that you personally like.
The traditional machaca served in the SW U.S. and Northern Mexico is typically served with giant flour tortillas. You could also sub corn tortillas if you can tolerate corn. Since I can’t tolerate either one, I sometimes enjoy it with a gluten-free tortilla from Siete Foods. Their almond and cassava flour tortillas are the closest in taste and texture to regular flour tortillas that I have found.
Hungry yet? Then let’s make some breakfast “machaca”!
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 small sweet onion, diced
- 1 jalapeno, sliced (optional - can also use sweet peppers or even pickled peppers)
- 1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced (your choice of variety - I typically use cremini)
- 1 pound ground beef (or beef of your choice -- see notes above)
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 2 tbsp avocado oil, or oil of your choice
- 1 head cauliflower (approx 1 1/2 pounds), rough chopped
- 2 tbsp avocado oil, or oil of your choice
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- sea salt and black pepper to taste
- Eggs, cooked any way you like
- Enchilada sauce, salsa, green chili, etc.
- Shredded cheese
- BEEF MACHACA
- NOTE: While your beef and vegetables are cooking in the instructions below, prepare your cauliflower "potatoes" using the second set of instructions below.
- Mince your garlic, dice your onion, slice your jalapenos (if using), and slice your mushrooms. Set aside.
- Heat a large skillet or frying pan over medium heat and add the ground beef. Sprinkle salt and pepper over it and combine.
- Cook until browned and place in a separate dish.
- In the same pan (still over medium heat), add 2 tablespoons of oil, and then add your garlic, onion, jalapenos (if using) and mushrooms.
- Saute until browned and the water has been cooked off.
- Add the beef back into the pan
- CAULIFLOWER "POTATOES"
- While your beef and onions, etc. are cooking above, prepare your cauliflower.
- Rinse your cauliflower and then roughly chop it. I like to keep some larger chunks in there, but you could also turn this into cauliflower rice if you prefer.
- In a large skillet or frying pan, heat your oil and then add your cauliflower, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine.
- Place a lid over the mixture and cook until tender, approx. 8 minutes.
- Remove from heat and serve as the base for your beef "machaca" mixture above.
- Top with whatever you like from the toppings section!
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