How to Make Barbacoa


Traditional Mexican barbacoa cooking -- slow-cooking beef offal, such as tongue, cheeks and eyes, by burying the head in hot coals -- isn't feasible and far from appetizing. Americanized barbacoa, on the other hand -- like the type popularized by Chipotle Mexican Grill -- is nothing short of a marvel you can recreate in your kitchen. Although the barbacoa cooking technique changed with the times, its ingredients -- slow-cooked rump roast, a few well-chosen spices and the all-important chipotle peppers in adobo sauce -- epitomize the less-is-more approach to cooking, just like the original.

How to Make Barbacoa
(Sarah Vantassel/Demand Media)

Things You'll Need

  • Stove- and oven-safe pan with tight-fitting lid, such as a Dutch oven
  • Aromatic ingredients, such as onions and garlic
  • Spices, such as cumin seeds, cloves and Mexican oregano
  • Chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
  • Beef broth
Step 1

Heat the oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit. Toast 1 tablespoon of cumin seeds in a dry saute pan for every batch of barbacoa.

Sarah Vantassel/Demand Media
Step 2

Saute 1 or 2 cups of chopped onions and a clove of garlic in vegetable oil in an oven-safe pan until dark golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Sarah Vantassel/Demand Media
Step 3

Add a few tablespoon of Mexican oregano and a couple cloves to the pan and saute them for a couple minutes.

Sarah Vantassel/Demand Media
Step 4

Deglaze the pan with 3 or 4 cups of beef broth for every 3 or 4 pounds of beef. Add 4 or 5 chopped chipotle chilis along with a tablespoon of sauce for every 3 or 4 pounds of beef.

Sarah Vantassel/Demand Media
Step 5

Add the beef to the pan; the stock should almost cover the beef. Add a couple of bay leaves and a couple pinches of kosher salt, and cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid. Place the pan in the oven.

Sarah Vantassel/Demand Media
Step 6

Braise the beef until tender, about 4 or 5 hours. Take the pan out of the oven and return it to the stove, uncovered.

Sarah Vantassel/Demand Media
Step 7

Transfer the beef to a plate. Take the bay leaves out of the sauce and bring it to a simmer. Simmer the liquid until it develops a rich saucy consistency, about 2 minutes.

Sarah Vantassel/Demand Media
Step 8

Shred the beef using 2 forks as the sauce simmers. When the sauce reduces to about 1 to 1 1/2 cups, add the beef and toss it to coat.

Sarah Vantassel/Demand Media

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