low and slow part 2: Barbacoa Beef

Was it my once a week craving for red meat or was it the post I just finished that resulted in beef roasting low and slow in my oven Friday afternoon?  You may have noticed that I cook a lot of chicken, but I can only go so long before I just need a little red meat.  Usually that means a flank steak or ribeyes on a Friday night when little one (ha, she's almost six-feet tall) is off to a ball game and it's just the two of us for dinner. I read a great looking recipe online, however and decided to take my own advice and fill my kitchen with the savory smell of roasting beef, garlic and onions.  The recipe is for a Mexican barbecue, barbacoa.  Doing a little research online I found some truly frightening recipes for authentic beef barbacoa.  Let's just say for someone who rarely eats red meat and really finds cows adorable, we'll just skip the history lesson.  We had a casual dinner for four Friday night instead of dining out (the original plan) and it was cozy and fun.  The best part of this recipe is that if you go ahead and prep your side dishes while you are browning the meat and the aromatics (the fancy Fine Cooking way of saying garlic, onions and spices) your kitchen can be clean and tidy hours before dinner is served.  Love, love, love that.  Especially with guests in the kitchen.

I went to my favorite local butcher and just asked for four pounds of beef that would be good for slow cooking in the oven and shredding.  I'd love to tell you definitively that I brought home two blade roasts, but honestly I can't remember what I actually did buy, just that it wasn't a chuck roast.  This was forehead-sweat-inducing hot and spicy when I first tasted it, so I removed the visible pieces of chipotle peppers before I shredded the meat.  That and serving it with sour cream and guacamole mellowed the dish to warm and spicy.   I warmed multi-grain tortillas and heated some beans to fold everything into burritos.  The barbacoa beef definitely will find it's way to a football tailgate next fall.  Might serve it on buns with shredded cheese for simplicity's sake.  Try it and you'll find your favorite way to enjoy it!

Have a great Super Bowl evening!  I'm hoping for the first-ever overtime.  Greg is cheering for the Packers because of how much that would hurt Brett Favre.  I wanted to cheer on the Steelers (even though I am a Cleveland girl, they are an AFC team and I liked Bill Cowher), but Sara won't let me because of Big Ben's dubious moral code.  Whatever, it's mainly about the commercials when the Colts aren't playing.  

Barbacoa Beef

2-3 T canola oil
3-4 pounds beef roast for slow-cooking and shredding
2 C diced yellow onion
10 cloves garlic, minced
1 T cumin
1 1/2 T Mexican oregano (Italian is fine too)
20 whole cloves, or 1/4 tsp ground cloves
3 chipotle peppers with adobo sauce
1 C chicken broth or stock
1 C water
2 bay leaves
2 T white wine vinegar

Heat oven to 325 degrees.

Cut the beef into 2-inch cubes and toss with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper (start with 1 T salt and 1 tsp pepper).  Heat  2 T oil in a large dutch/french oven over medium-high heat.  Add beef (do in two batches to avoid overcrowding and steaming the meat instead of browning it) and brown on all sides.  Remove beef and reduce heat to medium.  

Add additional oil if necessary.  Saute onions until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and stir until fragrant, no more than a minute.  Stir in spices (cumin, oregano and cloves) along with the chipotle peppers and heat for about a minute.  Add beef and pour in chicken broth and water.  Raise heat and bring to a boil.  Add bay leaves and put the lid on the pan.  

Slow roast in the oven* for 3 hours or until meat is easily shredded with two forks.  Before shredding, remove whole cloves, bay leaves and large pieces of chipotle peppers.  Serve hot.  

*You can also cover the pan and simmer on the stove if desired, but the warm oven makes for a nice cozy kitchen.  

Serve with warm tortillas, beans, guacamole, sour cream, lime wedges, cilantro, lettuce and salsa or pico de gallo as desired.  

seasoned beef


onions, garlic, spices

all ready for the oven

3 hours later, all done

shredded and ready for burrito assembly


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