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Slow Cooker Barbacoa

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One afternoon after Daniel and I had sat down to a meal at Chipotle (think Subway for a burrito except much better ingredients) we began discussing what exactly “barbacoa” was.  On the menu for the protein options the selection consists of pork, beef, chicken, tofu or barbacoa. Excluding the tofu, all the other options have legs and I know what sound they make so what is a barbacoa?  A quick search on Daniel’s iPhone and voila! we found out that it is a specific way to cook and flavor meat that originates from Latin America and the Caribbean.  Traditionally prepared with parts of a cow that I’m not sure are eaten around here, the meat is buried and slow-cooked before adding the spices and marinade that gives it a kick.  It is an interesting history and Chipotle is probably the only restaurant I have seen it offered, whether they cook it traditionally (doubtful) or not.  Daniel found this recipe on myrecipes.com and made some alterations after we got home and decided to try it ourselves and really it is pretty tasty.  It went better with beef in my opinion but can be done with pork as well, we had it both ways.  As a plus, when Daniel made it with beef he used the petit roast that I got from our last PISMO and an extra hunk of beef roast to make up the difference.

Messy Ingredients: 

  • 0.5 -1 pound onions, peeled and diced
  • 1 pound firm-ripe tomatoes, rinsed, cored, and chopped *Daniel used a 14oz can diced tomato
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 3 ounces fresh jalapeño chilies (about 4 total), rinsed, stemmed, seeded, and quartered lengthwise  *Daniel used red chilis
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 1 cup fat-skimmed chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried Mexican or regular oregano
  • About 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse-ground pepper
  • 1 boned, tied beef chuck or boned pork shoulder or butt (4 to 5 lb.)
  • Daniel added 1 can chipotle chilis in adobo sauce

In a 9- by 13-inch pan (or large ceramic crock-pot base if yours separates), mix everything in together. Rinse meat, place in pan, and turn to coat. Cover and chill at least 3 hours or up to 1 day, turning meat occasionally to marinate evenly. Seal pan with foil.

Set your slow-cooker for 8 hours on low and go do your own thing. When it’s done, remove the meat and large vegetable chunks from the liquid.  Pour pan juices through a strainer into a 12-inch frying pan or a 5- to 6-quart pan (discard bay leaves; reserve remaining vegetable mixture); skim and discard fat. Boil juices over high heat until reduced to 1 cup, 25 to 30 minutes.  When meat is cool enough to handle, in about 10 minutes use 2 forks or your fingers to pull meat into shreds; discard fat and connective tissue. Add meat and reserved vegetable mixture to pan with juices. Stir occasionally over medium heat until steaming, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt.
( Notes: Katharine Kagel, owner-chef of Café Pasqual’s in Santa Fe, mimics the rich flavor and tender texture of pit-cooked barbacoa (traditionally goat). Garnish tacos with minced cilantro, chopped onions, and Café Pasqual’s three-chili salsa. If cooking meat up to 3 days ahead, chill airtight; freeze to store longer. Katharine Kagel, Café Pasqual, Santa Fe, New Mexico, Sunset  MARCH 2000)

This worked out to be very flavorful and except for finding the chipotle chilis in adobo sauce at the store, easy!  If it didn’t come across in the ingredients, this dish is on the spicy side too which is perfect.  Daniel made us a great crock-pot meal that is 100% on the Dukan Diet on Phase 2 (Cruise Phase) or higher.

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