Sunday, April 22, 2012


You now know where I didn’t go on my birthday.  Here is where I did go.  David and the kids took me to a gas station for lunch… in Dallas... we weren’t even on the road coming home from a trip.  David is good about taking me out of my comfort zone and making me try new places.  He had read about Fuel City’s tacos.  We sampled the barbacoa, picadillo and chicken fajita tacos.  Our collective favorite was barbacoa.  You have probably seen barbacoa on the menu at Chipotle too.  I thought it was pork but my (always accurate) internet research shows that it can be made from beef, goat, lamb, pork, cow head (seriously – and I won’t provide the gory details about how to clean a cow head) and cooked in a crock pot, on the grill, on the stove top or in the oven.  I figured if barbacoa can be made at a gas station and at a chain fast food restaurant, surely I could too. 

I used a chuck roast and tried 2 different sauces and cooking methods (crock pot and oven).  I must admit, crock pots intimidate me as I have struck out twice in prior attempts.  Once I did not use enough liquid and the sauce burned.  The SOS pad and I became great friends.  The next time, I underestimated the size of my crock pot and had to frantically call friends who might have one with a greater capacity because my 8 hour cooking window was ticking away.  In the end, the flavor winner was the one made in the oven.  As the cook, I preferred the convenience of the crock pot.  Either way, once the meat is shredded, you will want to add the sauce back to the meat to give it flavor and moisture.  Also try to buy the most authentic, freshest tortillas that you can find. 

Happy Birthday RF!

Barbacoa made in the oven – the taste favorite:
1.       1/3 C apple cider vinegar
2.       3 T lime juice
3.       3-4 chipotle peppers, canned, no sauce
4.       4 garlic cloves
5.       4 t cumin
6.       2 t oregano (this recipe called for Mexican oregano but I could not find any)
7.       1 ½ t ground black pepper
8.       1 ½  t salt
9.       ½ t clove, toasted and ground (I didn’t use clove)
10.    2 T vegetable oil
11.    4 lbs chuck roast
12.    ¾ c chicken broth
13.    3 bay leaves

Make the sauce by combining vinegar, lime juice, peppers, garlic, cumin, oregano, black pepper, salt and clove in a blender or food processor and puree on high speed until smooth.

Trim the fat from the meat, and then slice the roast into 6 smaller pieces. Sear all sides of the meat in 2 tablespoons of oil in a large sauté pan with a lid or dutch oven over medium heat until browned. The original recipe calls for cooking on your stove top.  Instead, I placed in the oven at 225 for 5-6 hours covered with aluminum foil.  Transfer the meat to a small roasting pan.  Add the adobo sauce to the meat, pour in the chicken broth, and add the bay leaves. Cover with aluminum foil.  Let the meat cook for 5 to 6 hours or until meat easily flakes apart.

Barbacoa made in the crock pot/slow cooker – the ease of cooking winner
  1. 3 lbs Chuck Roast
  2. 2 whole white onions
  3. 3 T Vegetable Oil
  4. 8 cloves Minced Garlic
  5. 1 T Cumin (I used ½ T)
  6. 1-½ T Oregano (used ½)
  7. 1 small can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (I used 3 peppers – you can use as much or as little based on how much spice/heat you like)
  8. 1 C Chicken Broth
  9. 1 C Water
  10. 1 T Bay Leaves (I didn’t use bay leaves in this version)
  11. 2 T White Or Rice Vinegar
Place ingredients #2-11 in a blender or food processor. Blend until onion is all ground up.  Note: I used a food processor and putting all of these ingredients in at once made it overflow, so next time, I will only mix the ingredients with a portion of the chicken broth and water and then add in the rest of these liquids later in a bowl.

Add some of the sauce to the bottom of the crock pot.  Place the roast in the crock pot and pour the rest of the sauce over the meat.  Slow cook for 8-10 hours on low.  Use forks or tongs to shred the beef once cooked and it should easily fall apart.

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