Thermonuclear Sloppy Joes

It works equally well as a stew, sandwich or flour tortilla filling, or topping for extra-spicy nachos.

3 to 3 1/2- pound boneless chuck roast
1 7-ounce can diced green chilies
4 tablespoons ground cumin (divided)
2 tablespoons chili powder
Salt and pepper
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 10-ounce can diced tomatoes and green chilies (Rotel brand)
2 141/2-ounce cans stewed tomatoes
1 cup minced pickled jalapeno slices (see note)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon salt
12 onion buns,
12 flour tortillas, or large platter of corn chips
Shredded lettuce
Additional garnishes: sliced or diced tomatoes, chopped green onions, sour
cream, guacamole, shredded cheese, and pickled jalapenos

Place roast on a sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil measuring about 18 by 25 inches.

Combine the diced green chilies, 2 tablespoons of the cumin powder, the chili powder, salt and pepper (to taste). Spread the mixture over the top of the roast and wrap the foil around the roast, sealing well. Place in a baking pan and bake in a 325-degree oven for 31/2 to 4 hours, or until the meat is so tender it falls apart.

Be careful when unwrapping the roast; the steam will burn! Lift it from the pool of drippings in the foil and allow it to cool on a plate until it is easy to handle.

Meanwhile, pour the meat drippings (about 1/2 cup) into a small container and skim off the fat. Set aside.

Using a fork or your fingers, shred the cooled roast into small strips and fibers of meat; set aside. A 3-pound roast will yield about 4 cups of shredded meat.

In a large pot, sauté the onion in the oil until soft. Add the reserved meat juices, shredded meat, diced tomatoes with green chilies, stewed tomatoes, jalapenos, cilantro, remaining 2 tablespoons cumin powder and the salt. The mixture will seem very soupy at this point.

Simmer gently, uncovered, over medium-high heat until thickened and reduced, but still rather saucy, about 30 minutes.

If you are planning to transport the mixture to a tailgate party and will have no equipment to reheat it, then pack it into two 1-quart, wide-mouth vacuum bottles.

The filling can be prepared ahead of time and then refrigerated or frozen. When ready to use, thoroughly reheat mixture by bringing it to a boil and simmering about 5 minutes on stove, or micro-waving on high until very hot and bubbly.

To make sandwiches: Partially split each bun lengthwise, sprinkle with shredded cheese, then top with hot filling, another sprinkling of cheese and shredded lettuce.

To make roll-ups: Set out warm flour tortillas and garnishes; let guests assemble their own.

To serve as a stew: Ladle into bowls and pass around garnishes.

Note: Wear gloves when handling fresh, canned, dried or pickled chilies; the oils can cause a burning sensation on your skin.