Barbacoa beef, or pork or lamb or goat, is by definition slowly cooked meat. The word is Mexican, and originally parts of an animal were wrapped in leaves and steamed and smoked simultaneously over fire. The dish came to America from Mexico by way of Texas, and is very much a part of Mexican immigrant and Tex Mex culture, as well as the cuisine of Mexico.
Therefore the notion of making barbacoa beef in a slow cooker is simultaneously radical and obvious. And the resulting meat is flavorful and tender, and begging to be stuffed in a soft taco with toppings.
Warming Tortillas on The Stove
To warm the tortillas, heat a skillet without any oil over medium high heat. Place the tortillas in the pan, one at a time, allowing them to warm thoroughly on each side. Let the tortillas brown a bit in spots. Stack them as they finish cooking and keep them covered with a towel to keep them warm. You can re-warm them in the microwave, but make sure to cook them in a pan on the stovetop first to bring out their best flavor. It take only a few minutes, and it make a big difference.
How to Use Leftover Shredded Barbacoa Beef
Leftovers might be used in chili, stews, enchiladas or burritos, quesadillas; a couple of cups of shredded, cooked beef in the fridge are a springboard for any number of dinners later in the week. Serve some up as part of a nacho bar for a serious treat. This type of one-two punch cooking is very rewarding.
And there will be a lot of liquid, so what you might do is drain it into a container, put in in the fridge, and then when it is chilled, remove the fat that will have congealed on the top. the remaining liquid is a great springboard for a beef stew, or soup.
My friend Sarah recently told me she read a bit on Instagram about tacos. It went something like this: “If you had to choose between eating tacos your whole life or being thin your whole life, the question would be ….hard or soft tacos?”
So throw that big chunk of beef into the slow cooker or crock pot with a nice battalion of seasonings, shred up the soft meat, heat some tortillas in the microwave, oven, or a skillet, and have yourself a delicious little winter taco feast.
Barbacoa Beef in the Slow Cooker
- 1 3-pound eye round of beef
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon chipotle in adobo puree
- 1 onion chopped
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- Juice of 2 limes
- ¼ cup cider vinegar
- 3 cups beef or chicken stock
- 3 bay leaves
- Warmed corn or flour tortillas to serve (see Notes)
- Salsa tomato or tomatillo
- Sour cream
- Shredded cheddar or crumbled queso fresco, goat cheese, or feta
- Sliced avocado
- Slivered red onion
- Lime wedges
- In a large heavy skillet over high heat, heat the oil. Sear the beef on all sides until browned.
- Meanwhile, combine the chipotle puree, onions, garlic, chili powder, cloves, salt, lime juice and vinegar in a slow cooker. Add the broth and the bay leaves.
- Cook on low for 10 hours, until the meat is falling apart tender. Remove the meat from the slow cooker, let it for about 20 to 30 minutes, then pull it apart using two forks. Drizzle the shredded meat with some of the cooking liquid, until nicely moistened but not dripping.
- Serve this with warmed tortillas and whatever toppings you like.
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