Leslie Meredith, round 4

This week was a revelation. I hate pot roast, so I had never cooked a chuck roast. I felt nervous about the remaining secret ingredients, unsure of how they could ever be combined into a tasty dish with the beef. In the end, the tacos were the most delicious meal I've had in a long time, and certainly the best thing I've made in this competition.

I was happy to turn once again to my garden for inspiration. Home-grown habaneros, jalapenos, garlic, onions, carrots and tomatillos all made their way into my recipe. I knew "low and slow" were the keys to cooking a chuck roast, especially one from a grass-fed and finished cow, which is leaner than the corn-fed variety. A braise would be a good approximation of Mexican barbacoa, and I could use the cauliflower for a vegan filling. Many recipes I researched called for pickled onions, but I added other vegetables to put my spin on the Latin slaw called curtido. They added color and texture for a visual as well as a flavor and nutrition boost.

The spicy heat of the beer-braised beef was tempered by the sweet nuttiness of the cashew butter, and the acidity of the curtido cut through its richness, with the radish giving a welcome crunch. I like that the recipe is easy to adapt for a slow cooker or pressure cooker after browning the beef. The spices made the cauliflower pretty tasty on its own, but the citrusy-nutty crema made it extra special. I washed it all down with the additional beer.

Beef Barbacoa and Spiced Cauliflower Tacos with curtido and cashew lime crema

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