Tacos de Barbacoa

Let’s just talk about the only thing that matters, shall we? X-Men: First Class! Everything about it was absolute perfection. I loved the whole movie, and if they gave out Oscars for action movies (which they should do more often), Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy would both have one, in my opinion. I expect nothing less from the man who is quickly becoming one of my all time favorite directors, Matthew Vaughn, of Kick-Ass and Layer Cake fame. The guy just knows how to make a great action flick. When Magneto picked up that anchor on the boat and whipped it around, I honestly died inside a little bit. I can’t wait to see what Vaughn does next.

I actually made this barbacoa for Kramer’s birthday last month, but I only got around to posting it today! Kramer loves Mexican food, especially barbacoa or machaca. Since it is nearly impossible to find the right ingredients for machaca, barbacoa was the obvious choice. Making it is quite simple: just make a sauce, pour it all over the meat, and cook low and slow for a few hours. The results is some serious melt in your mouth deliciousness. I loved the crispiness of the parts of the barbacoa that were caramelized, paired with the bits that had just the right amount of fat on them for some richness. We blew through this barbacoa during our party, but we still had a bit leftover for breakfast tacos in the morning! I can’t imagine anything better than that.

Tacos de Barbacoa
Your ingredients.

Tacos de Barbacoa
Puree your sauce ingredients and set aside.

Tacos de Barbacoa
Rub the meat with salt and pepper and sear on all sides over high heat.

Tacos de BarbacoaTacos de Barbacoa
Pour the sauce over the meat and stir to combine.

Tacos de Barbacoa
Cover your pot tightly with foil, then add the lid, and put in the oven at 300 degrees F for 3 1/2 hours.

Tacos de Barbacoa
After the allotted time, remove the lid and allow to cook for another hour, so that the liquid can reduce a bit.

Tacos de Barbacoa
When the meat is ready, drain the juices from it.

Tacos de Barbacoa
Shred the meat, then add the juices back in until it has the desired level of moistness.

Tacos de Barbacoa
Serve with your favorite toppings (in my case, pico de gallo, lime, and queso blanco).

Tacos de Barbacoa
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 15-20
  • 4 pounds chuck or rump roast
  • 4 canned chipotle chiles, with sauce
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, minced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • ⅓ cup cider vinegar
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, minced
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 2½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1½ teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil (for cooking)
  • ⅔ cup low-sodium chicken/beef/vegetable stock (plus more, if needed)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • corn or small flour tortillas, warmed in the oven or on the stove
  • salsa, pico de gallo, cilantro, lime wedges, and/or queso blanco, for serving
  1. In a food processor or blender, pulse together the chiles, peppers, garlic, vinegar, lime juice, cumin, oregano, and nutmeg until well blended. Set aside. You can make this ahead of time and store in your fridge for 24 hours until you are ready to cook (as I did).
  2. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees F. Trim your roast of any large chunks of fat (but don't make it completely clean - some fat is good and makes for tender barbacoa). Cut the roast into 4-6 large hunks and rub all over with salt and pepper. In a large, heavy-bottomed, oven-proof pot, heat your tablespoon of olive oil over high heat. When the oil is hot, add the meat in batches, cooking until browned on all sides, about 8-10 minutes. Don't add it all in at the same time, because this will steam the meat instead of searing it.
  3. Pour the sauce over the meat and mix to coat well. Add in the stock and bay leaves, and keep the heat on high until the mixture comes to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and cover the pot tightly with foil, then cover with the lid. This will ensure that you have a good seal on your pot, especially if you have one that has been warped by heat during other cooking endeavors, such as mine has. Put the pot in the oven and cook for 3½ hours. After this time, take the pot out of the oven, stir everything, and place it back in the oven, uncovered, so that the liquid can evaporate a bit.
  4. When the meat is cooked, remove it from the oven and skim any fat off of the liquid, if you can. Move the meat to a large cutting board or a large bowl, and pour the juices into another bowl. Place the meat back in the pot, and shred with two forks. Turn the heat on the stove up to medium, and cook the barbacoa a bit, to caramelize it, for about 8 minutes. When ready, add in some of the juices, about ¼ cup at a time, until you have the level of liquid that you prefer. You can save the leftover juices to add back in if you plan to eat them as leftovers, or reduce it a bit for a sauce. Serve on warmed corn or flour tortillas and top with your favorite toppings, such as pico de gallo, onions, cilantro, queso blanco, or some other kind of salsa.


29 Responses

  1. Laura L. says:

    Yum!!! Love barbacoa.

    • Sydney says:

      @Laura L.: Me too! 😉

      @Megan: You definitely would!

      @Chris: Your faith will be restored, don’t you worry! Matthew Vaughn is a king amongst men.

  2. Megan says:

    Whoa, I’ve never had barbacoa, but based on this post, I know I’d love it.

  3. My younger brother, my own personal Roger Ebert, saw First Class and said it was amazing. I lost faith with Marvel after the disasters of Xmen 3 and Wolverine Origins. Hopefully Vaughn sticks around for First Class Sequels!

    We’ve never made Barbacoa before but we always get it when we go to Chipotle. I think this recipe going to be on our dinner menu this weekend!

  4. sara says:

    WOW, this looks amazing! I’ve only had barbacoa at restaurants or street carts, never at home, but this makes it look totally do-able! Yum – totally gorgeous photos! Makes me want a taco right now. 😀

  5. Aimee says:

    This looks so yum! Thanks for sharing the recipe!

    Alright so I am not into all of the superhero movies. I went to see X-Men First Class Saturday night and I must say I was impressed. I didn’t get who all of the characters were at first and I didn’t understand why Wolverine wasn’t in the whole movie (I’m a little slow). But some of the names (Prof X and Magneto) were familiar. My husband had to explain the X-Men story on the way home.

    • Sydney says:

      @Aimiee: I’m glad that you liked it – I hope it has convinced you to give all superhero/comic book movies a chance!

      @Jen T.: Kramer and I watched them on TV yesterday, too! You’re going to love the new one if you liked 1 and 2.

      @Alli: I didn’t mind X-Men 3, but Wolverine was pretty terrible. This one will give you hope again, I promise!

      @RRA: Glad to be of service!

      @Kathy: I hope you to! It’s delicious!

      @Anthony: Do it to it! It’s great with a margarita on a warm day!

  6. Jen T. says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever wanted tacos at 10am more than I do right now. This looks amazing! Definitely going in the “to make” file!

    And I think I’m the only one of my friends who didn’t see “X-Men: First Class” this past weekend, so I guess I’ll have to count that I found one of the movies on TV yesterday, and maybe go see it in the next couple of weeks. Glad to hear everyone liked it so much, though!

  7. Alli says:

    I can’t believe XMen First Class is getting such good reviews! I love my comic book movies, but I was planning on skipping this one after the crap that was X3 and Wolverine. However, Michael Fassbender mmmmm…..

  8. RRA says:

    I’ve been looking for an accessible barbacoa recipe for a while now! I feel like this is one I can handle, thanks :)

  9. I’ve really been having a thing for tacos lately, tacos of all varieties. This is going in my MUST TRY file, as well!

  10. Anthony says:

    Gee, thanks, Sydney. After reading this, I looked at the lunch I brought to work and said “I hate you, Lean Cuisine.” 😉

    But I do know now what I’m making this weekend. :)

  11. I don’t even eat meat, yet my mouth is watering from your photos. This looks great!

    • Sydney says:

      @Michelle: Thank you so much! :)

      @Lola: Thanks for that!

      @Tanvi: Kick-Ass is one of my all time favorite movies – it’s just too good!

      @Chelsea: I’m glad you loved it, too!

      @Miss: I hope you do – it’s delish! I promise! 😉

  12. Tanvi says:

    Two things:
    1. The barbacoa looks amazing!

    2. Haven’t seen X-men yet, but saw Kick-Ass about 2 weeks ago with the boyfriend and we both LOVED it! I didn’t really know what to expect, but was pretty impressed. He does, indeed, make one mean action movie.

  13. Chelsea says:

    Great movie!! Loved it!

    Also, this recipe looks great. I’ll have to give it a try!

  14. Miss says:

    Looks delicious! I make a lot of Mexican or Tex-Mex but I’ve never had this, must try it soon.

  15. sara says:

    I made a half portion of this recipe last night and my boyfriend and I LOVED it – despite the long cooking time, it’s SO easy to make and the result is really delicious. Thanks for a delicious recipe!

  16. Just an update, we ended up making this with some slight tweakings over the weekend (After the heat broke). Had Pico de Galo and Cilantro lime rice with it. Yum yum.

  17. Hannah says:

    I just got home from a late work night and this has me drooling.

  18. JulieD says:

    Simply stated, I need these in my life. Pinning this for later. :)

  19. Adrienne says:

    I made the barbacoa this weekend! It was wonderful and so, so tasty. My only note: the liquid boiled off all the way by the time the three-hour cook time was through. I have a feeling my stock pot was not thick enough. I added more broth (like two cups) and cooked it for another hour and it was great… even better the second and third days!

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