Indio, California: We have returned to Indio from our babysitting gig in Los Angeles. The wind has been blowing for the past few evenings, making us sneeze. Cough. Itchy eyes. This windy weather phenomenon is the least attractive aspect of spending the winter in the desert.
At least we have tacos to fall back on.
And by tacos, this time, I mean Beef Barbacoa Tacos. In no way is this recipe authentic. Barbacoa is a dish requiring an entire critter to be roasted in an underground pit. Depending upon the region of Mexico, the critter could be a cow, a goat, a sheep or even a pig. This dish, translated by a RV cook, requires a few spices, a chunk of beef and a crockpot.
Barbacoa is made with smoked jalapenos – Chipotle – but my RV version is downsized further by using spicy dried Chipotle Chile Flakes (I like The Spice Hunter brand). Less messy than using canned or jarred peppers. (We arecamping.) Plus the dried flakes are great on all sorts of things… eggs… baked potatoes… soups and stews… grilled fish and veggies. The fact the meat braises for six-to-eight hours in a slow cooker (while you are hiking) just makes it all so easy.
The beef is just a bit spicy, so use only one teaspoon of the dried chiles if cooking for non-fire eaters, or bump it up to a full 3 teaspoons if the Devil Hisownself sits at your table. The tacos are traditionally served on warm corn tortillas – with only diced onion and cilantro. Add a bit of hot sauce if you choose.
NOTE: I use boneless chuck roast in this recipe, but you could use stew meat or even a small brisket. Choose any marbled piece of beef that can be easily shredded. Enjoy!
One large onion, chopped fine, divided (see below)
2-4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
One jalapeno pepper, deveined (if desired) and minced
2 teaspoons dried Chipotle Chile Flakes (or to taste)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (from about two limes)
2.5 pound boneless beef chuck roast
1 Bay leaf
warm corn tortillas
chopped onion (see above)
fresh cilantro leaves
Hot sauce, like Chulula (optional)
Chop the onion. Reserve about one quarter of the onion to garnish the tacos, and place the remaining 3/4 of the onion in the crockpot. Add the minced garlic and jalapeno, dried Chipotle flakes, cumin, oregano, cloves, salt and pepper to the onion and garlic mixture. Pour the fresh lime juice over all and stir well.
Remove any large fatty bits from the roast and slice the roast into three or four chunks. Bury the chunks of beef into the spicy onion mixture, turn to coat well with the spice mix, and tuck a bay leaf into the crockpot. (Do not be alarmed the mixture is so dry – it won’t be in a few hours.) Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
In the slow cooker – ready to go.
After six-to-eight hours, remove the beef from the slow cooker to a large cutting board or plate. Use two forks to shred the beef and keep the shredded meat warm under a sheet of aluminum foil. Discard any liquid from the crockpot.
The beef shreds very easily
Serve the shredded Barbacoa in warm corn (or flour, if you insist) tortillas with chopped onion and cilantro.
Beef Barbacoa Tacos
This is a great meal. Serve the tacos with a chips, guacamole and a fruit platter. The recipe will make over a dozen tacos.
Until my next update, I remain, your beefy correspondent.