Barbacoa is one of our favorite slow-cooked beef recipes – with a Mexican accent! Barbacoa is actually a dish that comes from the Caribbean, where the term “barbecue” originated. Over time the recipe has evolved.
In Mexico, where we became acquainted with the dish, barbacoa refers to meat that was originally slow cooked in clay pots buried in the ground and covered with leaves.
In this version, chuck beef is slowly simmered in a spicy broth featuring smoky chipotle in adobo sauce and Mexican oregano and cumin.
We’ve added 3 smoked jalapenos (chipotles) for those that like it hot (like us!) but feel free to reduce that number if you like your tacos on the milder side.
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If you can’t find chipotles in adobo sauce, (and aren’t inclined to make it yourself) try substituting a 1/2 teaspoon of chipotle powder or smoked paprika, 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne powder and 1/2 teaspoon of tomato paste for each chili pepper.
This is a great recipe to feed a crowd and is easily adaptable to so many other Mexican dishes.
Think taco salad, beef enchiladas, quesadillas, spicy beef scrambled eggs, chili, or even peppers stuffed with barbacoa and rice. Best of all, you can make a big batch and freeze it in small portions to use later.
Note: This stove top version can be also made in a crock pot – just set it on low and cook for 8 – 10 hours.
- 3 lbs (1.4 kg) chuck beef
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil
- 6 cloves garlic
- 1 large onion
- 2 teaspoons (28 g) ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons (28 g) dried Mexican oregano, use regular oregano if unable to find the Mexican version
- 1/2 teaspoon (7 g) ground cinnamon
- 3 Roma tomatoes
- 3 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinega
- 2 1/2 (600 ml) cups water
- 2 beef bouillon cubes
- 1 handful of cilantro, roughly chopped
- 8 palm sized tortillas, corn or flour
- Lime for garnish
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Cut the Beef into 4 equal sized chunks
- Add the oil to a frying pan over medium heat and sear the meat on all sides until a crust starts to form (about 10 minutes). Add the cinnamon, oregano and cumin and cook for another 1 - 2 minutes.
- Cut 2 of the tomatoes and the onion into quarters. Dice one quarter of the onions and the third Roma tomato and reserve as a topping for the tacos.
- Add the garlic, quartered onion and tomatoes, 1/2 the cilantro and chilies into a blender with 1/2 cup of water and blend until smooth.
- Combine the rest of the water with the bouillon cubes. Add the mixture from the blender and the bouillon to the pot along with the vinegar.
- Raise the temperature to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer.
- Cover and cook for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally until the meat is fork tender.
- Remove the beef from the crock post and shred with a fork.
- Add the beef into the tacos, top with tomatoes, onion and cilantro and serve with lime wedges.
- (Note: reserve the simmering juice for storing leftovers, or reduce and add as a spicy sauce for the tacos)
Amount Per Serving Calories 399Total Fat 13gSaturated Fat 3gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 8gCholesterol 28mgSodium 235mgCarbohydrates 57gFiber 7gSugar 4gProtein 16g
Feel free to head over to our international recipes section to see our full collection of recipes inspired by our ongoing travels around the world.