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What is Mexican Barbacoa?
"Barbacoa" (Spanish) translates to "barbecue" in English. 🙂 Americans think of barbecue as a method of cooking that involves either smoking, grilling, or roasting. However, in Mexico barbacoa refers to a cooking method that involves steaming or slow cooking over an open fire until the meat is fall apart tender.
In Central Mexico, barbacoa very often involves meat such as goat, lamb or mutton, cooked in an underground oven which has been dug into the ground. There is a great article from The Spruce Eats which goes into much more detail about Mexican barbacoa which I highly recommend reading!
South Texas Barbacoa
Here in South Texas barbacoa has a very special place in our culture.
Barbacoa is well known in South Texas, and many Mexican restaurants serve it only at the weekends. Despite its simplicity, it's my understanding that it is a special treat to have barbacoa. Hence, barbacoa here in South Texas is a meal to look forward to at the weekends. 🙂
The way I know barbacoa here in South Texas is that it is made of beef cheek meat (a very fatty meat) and served as a taco with lots of cilantro and diced onion.
My Easy Method For Creating A Delicious Barbacoa Taco
It seems there are many variations on barbacoa in Mexico and other parts of the world. However, per the article from The Spruce Eats: "What all barbacoa has in common, however, is a long, slow cooking temperature and an end product that is soft, easily shredded, and has not lost its natural moisture."
Crockpot cooking is PERFECT for barbacoa!
The way I cook it is so very simple...stick it in the crockpot on a low setting when going to bed the night before, and wake up to the most amazing smells in the morning. Of course you can cook it during the day and have an amazing dinner as well. 🙂
Basically you'll cook it overnight in the slow cooker for around 8 hrs. Believe it or not...you don't actually need to season it! However you can season simply with salt and pepper. Generously season the meat all over and then set it in the crockpot ready to go.
Enjoy The Most Amazing Breakfast!
In the morning, you will have the MOST delicious, tender, shreddable, incredible beef cheek meat. Take some out with a fork, and let the fat drain off. As mentioned..this is a VERY FATTY cut of beef so there will be an amazing amount of fat! But that is what helps to give it its flavor!
Garnish with cilantro, onions, and if you like some hot chili peppers, and you have the MOST delicious treat for breakfast.
Oh and the PERFECT FINISHING TOUCH? Lime juice! Suggested by my friend Nicole @gringaguarani on Instagram!!
Why Make These Barbacoa Tacos?
Why should you make these Barbacoa Tacos?
Because they are an easy, delicious, scrumptious, incredible amazing treat!
Pretty much Toby, our dog, could be happy with these every single day...and me too. However, when served as a special treat the anticipation of it really adds to its enjoyment.
The broth that is produced when cooking is also full of amazing flavor! Be sure to try some of it! I often serve remaining broth with some rice and a little cheek meat.
So when will you enjoy these Barbacoa Tacos as s special treat next? 🙂
Some Other Recipes You May Enjoy!
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Fall Apart Tender Barbacoa Tacos
- slow cooker or crockpot
- 2.5 lbs Beef Cheek Meat
- salt to taste
- pepper to taste
- onion diced, for garnish
- cilantro for garnish
- chili peppers optional, for garnish
- 12 flour or corn tortillas to serve (for 6 people, or allow 2 tortillas per person or adjust as necessary)
- 1 lime squeeze lime over the cooked meat for the perfect finishing touch!
- Remove the beef cheek meat from the package and rinse under water. Add the beef check meat to your crockpot and season with salt and pepper.
- Set the crockpot on low, and cook for at least 8 hrs.
- Remove the meat, add to tortillas and serve with garnishes. Enjoy!
Thank you for using an authentic barbacoa recipe. So many people have posted recipes that use pot roast for the meat. I've ate barbacoa made from a street vendor in Piedres Negras, Mexico. He served meat from the head of a steer. Have you ever considered using beef tongue?
Hi Elbert, thanks so very very much for your comments! I'm interested because I didn't know there were recipes for barbacoa calling for pot roast! I have not considered using beef tongue...would you recommend it? And your experience in Piedras Negras sounds AMAZING!!! Thank you again!! Grace