What Is Barbacoa and How Do You Make It?

Have you ever tried the Chipotle barbacoa beef? Their chicken is fantastic, the fajita vegetables are mouthwatering, and I love the Mexican chorizo, but the Chipotle barbacoa? I’d say it’s the best of all (especially if you spend extra for the guacamole). If you’ve ever had it, you know. You’ve probably also pondered whether it’s feasible to prepare slow cooker barbacoa meat at home. The good news is that you only need ten common ingredients to make this beef barbacoa recipe, which is as simple to prepare as pulled pork or fall-off-the-bone Instant Pot beef short ribs.

One of my favorite Chipotle copycat recipes and one of the best Mexican beef recipes I’ve ever made, this Crock Pot barbacoa beef will make you love your Crock Pot if you didn’t already.

Mexican-style barbacoa is a tender, flavorful meat dish that is traditionally served shredded as a filling or topping. Mexican barbacoa is traditionally made with a variety of meats, including beef (typically chuck roast or brisket), goat, or lamb.

Three ingredients are necessary to make authentic barbacoa beef: the right meat, the right seasonings, and sufficient cooking time. A marinade made of traditional Mexican spices, peppers in adobo, lime, and broth is slowly cooked with the meat, allowing the flavors to meld and the meat to become tender and juicy.

What is Barbacoa? Barbacoa is an authentic Mexican dish typically made with beef, goat or lamb. It is traditionally seasoned with dried chilies and spices and slowly cooked until perfectly tender. From there it’s used as a delicious filling for tacos, burritos and so forth.

What Beef Barbacoa tastes like

Beef Barbacoa has a light tanginess and a subtle but noticeable spice. To be fair, chipotles can vary in heat, so it’s not overly spicy.

Barbacoa’s distinctive feature is the sauce’s mild tartness from lime and vinegar, which cuts through the rich meat, and its warmth from cloves. It differs from other Mexican braised beef fillings in this way, such as my other Mexican Shredded Beef and everyone’s favorite Beef Taco Filling from the 1980s (which we will never let go of!).

What goes in Beef Barbacoa

Here’s what you need for the Barbacoa Sauce:

What Is Barbacoa Beef?

  • The key flavoring in this dish is chipotles in adobo, which are smoked and dried jalapeno peppers. They typically come in a tangy, hot, red sauce known as “adobo” when they are canned. You get a good kick of spices, garlic, and other flavorings from the adobo along with smoky flavor and heat from the chipotle. Sometimes dishes use both the adobo sauce and the chilli. We’re just using the chipotle chilli today;.
  • The original Beef Barbacoa recipe, from my friend Kevin at Kevin is Cooking, calls for either dark ale or beer OR beef stock. Normally I make it the traditional way, but I gave using beer a try and really enjoyed the subtle extra layer of flavor it adds to the crucial sauce, so I decided to provide that as an option. You really can’t go wrong with the type of beer you use for a dish like this. Even an everyday lager or other ale will work well, but dark ales are a great match for the sauce’s color and the dish’s rich flavors (I used an Australian brand called White Rabbit, shown above). a stout like Guinness that we might use with, say, beef If you can find Mexican dark beer like the excellent Negra Modelo, all the better. In Australia, we used to be able to purchase this at Dan Murphy’s, but I haven’t seen it in a while;
  • There is nothing generic about any well-made Mexican shredded beef! Cider vinegar and lime juice both give this dish a unique tang that distinguishes it as Beef Barbacoa rather than just a standard Mexican pulled beef;
  • Spices and herbs for our seasonings include cumin, oregano, cloves, and bay leaves. The cloves in particular give this dish a unique flavour;.
  • Because I adore garlic as much as Mexican food does

What Is Barbacoa Beef?

Best beef for Beef Barbacoa: Beef cheeks

As was already mentioned, this Beef Barbacoa is a Tex-Mex variation with bolder flavors than the traditional version.

The other distinction, in addition to the added flavor, is the type of beef used. The Tex-Mex version tends to use beef cheeks. Thanks to the ample connective tissue and fine fat marbling that break down into rich, lip-sticking gelatin during slow cooking, this cut produces pulled beef that is obscenely tender while also remaining succulent and juicy.

What Is Barbacoa Beef?

Alternatives: Beef chuck or boneless Short Rib

Although beef cheeks yield the best results for this dish, most recipes call for beef chuck as a more widely available substitute. Because it is not as well marbled, this beef cut is not quite as juicy. However, I frequently use the cut for dishes like Italian ragu and other pulled beef dishes.

For the juiciest chuck, choose a piece that is nicely marbled with fat.

If you can find boneless beef short ribs that don’t have excessively thick layers of fat in the meat, they’d make a fantastic substitute that’s almost as juicy as beef cheeks.

I advise staying away from leaner slow-cooking beef cuts like bolar blade and lean brisket. The meat will tend to be rather dry and ropey.

How to make Beef Barbacoa

Three simple steps:

  • Brown the beef;
  • Blitz the sauce;
  • Slow-cook until fall-apart tender!

And yes, I know I’ve shown EIGHT steps below!

What Is Barbacoa Beef?

  • Season Color equals flavor in both the beef and the sauce, and I use that word intentionally, so don’t hold back here. TIP: Avoid overcrowding the pan to prevent the beef from stewing rather than browning (well, don’t burn it, but aim for a deep golden crust all over each piece!). Work in batches. Meat also cooks faster when it has room;.
  • Sauce: Use a Nutribullet, blender, food processor, or other blending tool to combine all the ingredients for the sauce;
  • Blitz on high for a few seconds to make sure everything is smooth;
  • Slow-cook – Pour Sauce over beef in the slow cooker. In order to make the beef “fall-apart-at-a-touch” tender, slow-cook it for 8 hours on low. (Other cooking methods: Slow cooker on high for 6 hours; oven for 3-3 hours. 5 hours covered, Instant Pot/pressure cooker – 1 hour);.
  • Remove beef from the sauce;
  • Using forks, shred meat so that it doesn’t get stuck in the prongs by using the back of the fork rather than the front. Yes, ignore the photos – follow the video!;.
  • Sauce it! Combine the slow cooker’s sauce with the shredded beef. How much to use is up to you. I usually douse it with 4 big ladles. Yes, the sauce appears a little bit watery, but that’s okay It has a lot of flavor, so tacos and other dishes don’t require much of it;
  • I’ve provided some simple adaptable recipe links and a little more advice on this below. Use for tacos, stuffed into burritos, taquitos, enchiladas, quesadillas, and make burrito bowls. Click here to jump to this section.

What Is Barbacoa Beef?

What Is Barbacoa Beef?

How to serve Barbacoa Beef

You can use barbacoa, a Tex-Mex meat filling, in almost any Mexican dish. Here are a few suggestions, along with links to recipes, where you can replace the protein in this barbeque.

Pictured in this post! I’ve included:

  • In a hot, dry skillet, quickly char flour tortillas;
  • Mexican Red Rice;
  • Pickled red cabbage from this Fish Tacos recipe;
  • Lime crema is a creamy, mildly tangy Mexican condiment. The ingredients I use to make my lime crema are sour cream, lime zest, lime juice, a tiny bit of garlic, and a little bit of water to thin it out (to make it drizzle-able, if that’s a word! ); and
  • Fresh cilantro/coriander leaves—In this household, tacos are almost never made without them!

What Is Barbacoa Beef?

Or go for the classic option like these Beef Mince Tacos from the past, which feature crisp corn tortillas, iceberg lettuce, tomato, sour cream, and shredded cheese!

Replace the beef in my recipe for beef burritos with this beef barbacoa.

Add additional Barbacoa sauce and 1 can each of black beans and corn (drained) to the meat. Toss well and use to make Beef Enchiladas. ie replace the ground beef filling in that recipe.

Use as the protein in Quesadillas. Follow this recipe here. Mix and match fillings!.

Make Burrito Bowls with:

  • Mexican Red Rice;
  • Pickled red cabbage from this recipe for Fish Tacos or even plain, thinly sliced iceberg lettuce (that’s not at all 1980s! );
  • A big scoop of fresh Pico de Gallo;
  • Avocado: diced, sliced, or make guacamole from start to finish;
  • Lime Crema – per #1 (Barbacoa Tacos) above, or even just plain sour cream; and.
  • Fresh coriander/cilantro leaves

That’s just a few ideas to get you started. Have a look through all of my Mexican recipes for more ideas!

My standard fallback use: Mexican Sliders!

Of course, there’s always the tried-and-true fallback method of stuffing warm rolls with cheese and grilling it. It’s sliders, Mexican-style. SO GOOD! – Nagi x.

Watch how to make it

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What Is Barbacoa Beef?

Beef Barbacoa – Mexican Pulled Beef for Tacos and everything!

  • Beef cheeks, or chuck beef, weighing 2 kg or 4 lb (see Note 1).
  • 1 tsp salt , kosher/cooking
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil , for searing
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 4 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce (Note 2)
  • 3/4 cup low-sodium beef broth or stock, or dark beer (Note 3).
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 4 tbsp lime juice
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 4 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • Cut the beef into 12 to 15 pieces by halving the large cheeks. If using chuck, cut into 12 or so pieces.
  • Season: Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • To brown the beef, heat the oil in a big skillet or pot over high heat. Sear beef in batches, browning aggressively all over. Place beef in slow cooker.
  • Blend the ingredients for the barbacoa sauce in a blender, food processor, or device of a similar nature (I use a Nutribullet). Blend until smooth – it shouldnt take long.
  • Slow cooker (see Note 4 for alt. cooking methods): Pour sauce over cheeks in slow cooker. Add bay leaves. Arrange cheeks so they are submerged as much as possible. Do not worry; as they cook, juice will be released, increasing the liquid level.
  • Slow-cook for 8 hours on low. The beef should be effortless to shred when done.
  • Shred: Remove cheeks from slow cooker into a pan. Shred using 2 forks.
  • 3 or 4 ladles of the sauce should be added, then toss.
  • Use in tacos with your preferred taco fixings, as shown with Mexican Red Rice, Pickled Red Cabbage for Tacos, and Lime Crema (Note 5).
  • Slow cooker on high: 6 hours
  • Instant Pot/Pressure Cooker: 1 hr on high
  • For 3 to 3 1/2 hours, bake at 160°C/320°F (140°C fan). Tightly wrap in foil.
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (full fat)
  • 2 tsp lime juice (adj to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/8 tsp garlic, finely grated using microplane (or garlic crusher)
  • Pinch of salt

OMG Dozer! Whatever you do, DO NOT LIFT YOUR HEAD!!!!!!

What Is Barbacoa Beef?

EASY BARBACOA RECIPE | perfect for tacos, burritos, bowls, and salads!

FAQ

What is beef barbacoa made of?

In the US, chuck roast, brisket, and beef cheeks are commonly used to make barbacoa. But any cut of beef with a lot of connective tissue that requires a long cooking time to become tender works well.

What is barbacoa meat?

Barbacoa is a cooking technique that results in tender, juicy meat (traditionally lamb or goat, but beef or pork is frequently used today). Barbacoa is typically steam-cooked underground, but modern versions can be made on a stove, in a slow cooker, or over an open flame.

What does barbacoa meat taste like?

Beef Barbacoa has a light tanginess and a subtle but noticeable spice. The distinctive aspect of barbacoa is the slight tartness of the sauce from vinegar and lime, which cuts through the rich meat, and the warmth from cloves. To be fair, sometimes chipotles vary in heat.

What part of the cow is the barbacoa?

Barbacoa is made from whole cow heads. The best beef scraps are cow heads (cabeza de la vaca). They contain plentiful chewy cartilage and gristle as well as difficult-to-find but delectable pieces of beef cheek and tongue.

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