|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 33g||43%|
|Saturated Fat 11g||55%|
|Total Carbohydrate 5g||2%|
|Dietary Fiber 1g||3%|
|Total Sugars 2g|
|Vitamin C 9mg||43%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|
Barbacoa is a classic dish from Mexico, and if you think the word has a familiar sound, this is likely as it is also the Mexican word for barbecue. But any resemblance to the grill we all know outside of Mexico stops with the word. Barbacoa is a dish made through the long slow cooking of beef with strong seasonings. The meat is then cooled, shredded, and used as a filling for tacos or served over rice.
Typically, the seasonings will include chipotle peppers, cumin, cloves, and garlic—but not exclusively. However, like many favorite classic dishes, everyone has their own personalized recipe. Essentially, the finished dish must be tender from the slow cooking and have a mild smoky flavor with a little sting of heat, but not too much heat. It requires a chipotle paste, which is an ingredient you can buy online, in specialty Mexican grocers, or in some well-stocked supermarkets. (If you can't find chipotle paste, you can substitute ancho paste).
Since this dish is cooked in a slow cooker for up to 10 hours, the best meat to use is brisket. This cut of meat is popular for its pronounced flavor, but more probably because it is cheaper and more affordable.
Barbacoa should not be confused with carnitas, which is another slow-cooked dish that's made from pork.
3 tablespoons chipotle paste
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 pinch ground cloves
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 1/2 pounds brisket
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 red onion, roughly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 limes, juiced
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 1/2 cups beef stock
3 bay leaves, lightly crushed
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Gather the ingredients.
Place chipotle paste, ground cumin, oregano, cloves, and tomato paste in a large bowl and mix thoroughly.
Cut brisket into large chunks, add to marinade, and stir to ensure meat is well coated. Cover with plastic wrap and leave for 3 to 4 hours, or overnight if possible.
When ready to cook, heat a large skillet, add oil, and then add chunks of beef a few at a time. Sear on all sides.
Once browned, remove from pan with a slotted spoon and put to one side and repeat until all the beef is seared.
Add onion to same skillet and stir well. Cook onion over medium heat until softened. Add garlic and cook for 5 minutes more.
Transfer onion-garlic mixture into slow cooker and place beef on top.
Reheat skillet, add lime juice and apple cider vinegar, and bring to a boil.
Reduce by half, then add beef stock. Stir well to scrape up any bits of beef or onion from bottom of pan.
Bring to a boil, then pour over meat in the slow cooker. Add bay
leaves, cover with a lid, and cook on low for 10 hours.
After 10 hours, beef should be tender and falling apart, and the sauce much reduced and thickened. If sauce is too thin, pour into a saucepan and reduce before adding back to slow cooker.
Cool barbacoa and then refrigerate overnight. (The meat improves in flavor if left in the fridge for a day or two.)
Before serving, reheat thoroughly. Once hot, using two forks to gently break up the meat—it will shred easily. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serving Ideas for Barbacoa
- The traditional way is to stuff the shredded beef into a taco shell and top with finely chopped tomatoes, red onion, and cilantro leaves or a touch of Adobo sauce. However, add your favorites, including toppings such as guacamole, sour cream, a little extra chipotle, cheese, or salsa.
- Another favorite way of serving is to serve the barbacoa in baby gem lettuce leaves, a lovely way for a party or informal gathering.
- The barbacoa is also good over steamed rice.
- Pop the meat into the fridge and leave it for a day or two as it will have more flavor.