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Tacos de barbacoa

Flavors were really good in this recipe. I went ahead and added my forbidden ingredient – canned chipotle chiles – and luckily it didn’t ruin the dish like it has so many times before. The salsa mix smelled great and I even added the tiniest pinches of those random weird spices. I would leave out the cooking uncovered for a hour part, the meat dried out a little and was saved only by some random beef broth hiding in the fridge. Next time I would cook for 3 1/2 hours, take out the meat with some of the juices, and thicken the remaining juices into a thick sauce/glaze.

Update Oct 2011: I made this again, using 1/2 of  a 2 lb flat beef roast. I used the crock pot this time because I wanted to use the beef for taquitos. I used the same recipe for baked creamy chicken taquitoes that is all over the internet. I used a mix of cheddar and feta cheese, yum. Some of the taquitos accidentally found their way into some hot oil. Both ways are really good, you just have to decide if the extra calories are worth the better crisp and crunch.

Tacos de Barbacoa
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Total Prep and Cooking Time: 30 minutes to prep, 4 1/2 hours of cooking time
Yield: 15-20 servings (makes great leftovers!)

4 pounds chuck or rump roast
4 canned chipotle chiles, with sauce
2 jalapeño peppers, minced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup cider vinegar
juice of 2 limes
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1-2 tablespoons olive oil (for cooking)
2/3 cup low-sodium chicken/beef/vegetable stock (plus more, if needed)
2 bay leaves
corn or small flour tortillas, warmed in the oven or on the stove
salsa, pico de gallo, cilantro, lime wedges, and/or queso blanco, for serving

1. In a food processor or blender, pulse together the chiles, peppers, garlic, vinegar, lime juice, cumin, oregano, and nutmeg until well blended. Set aside. You can make this ahead of time and store in your fridge for 24 hours until you are ready to cook (as I did).

2. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees F. Trim your roast of any large chunks of fat (but don’t make it completely clean – some fat is good and makes for tender barbacoa). Cut the roast into 4-6 large hunks and rub all over with salt and pepper. In a large, heavy-bottomed, oven-proof pot, heat your tablespoon of olive oil over high heat. When the oil is hot, add the meat in batches, cooking until browned on all sides, about 8-10 minutes. Don’t add it all in at the same time, because this will steam the meat instead of searing it.

3. Pour the sauce over the meat and mix to coat well. Add in the stock and bay leaves, and keep the heat on high until the mixture comes to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and cover the pot tightly with foil, then cover with the lid. This will ensure that you have a good seal on your pot, especially if you have one that has been warped by heat during other cooking endeavors, such as mine has. Put the pot in the oven and cook for 3 1/2 hours. After this time, take the pot out of the oven, stir everything, and place it back in the oven, uncovered, so that the liquid can evaporate a bit.

4. When the meat is cooked, remove it from the oven and skim any fat off of the liquid, if you can. Move the meat to a large cutting board or a large bowl, and pour the juices into another bowl. Place the meat back in the pot, and shred with two forks. Turn the heat on the stove up to medium, and cook the barbacoa a bit, to caramelize it, for about 8 minutes. When ready, add in some of the juices, about 1/4 cup at a time, until you have the level of liquid that you prefer. You can save the leftover juices to add back in if you plan to eat them as leftovers, or reduce it a bit for a sauce. Serve on warmed corn or flour tortillas and top with your favorite toppings, such as pico de gallo, onions, cilantro, queso blanco, or some other kind of salsa.

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