The Pioneer Woman Tasty Kitchen
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Tex Mex Barbacoa, Slow Cooker Style

5.00 Mitt(s) 2 Rating(s)2 votes, average: 5.00 out of 52 votes, average: 5.00 out of 52 votes, average: 5.00 out of 52 votes, average: 5.00 out of 52 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5

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Level: Easy

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Description

I’m a displaced Texan who often finds myself longing for Barbacoa made the Tex Mex way, the kind you dream of for breakfast tacos and can easily find in places like Austin and San Antonio but not so much elsewhere in the Midwest. Here’s an easy way to make your own without having to dig a pit in your backyard or procure an entire cow’s head!

Ingredients

  • 6 pounds Beef Cheek Meat
  • 2 teaspoons Salt
  • 2 teaspoons Pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon Comino (Cumin)
  • 1 Tablespoon Mexican Oregano
  • 2 teaspoons Garlic Powder
  • 8 cloves Garlic
  • 1 whole Bay Leaf
  • 2 whole Limes, Juiced
  • 1 cup Beef Stock
  • _____
  • FOR SERVING:
  • 12 whole Tortillas, Flour Or Corn
  • 1 whole Medium Onion, Diced
  • 1 bunch Fresh Cilantro
  • 1 cup Salsa
  • 1 whole Lime, Sliced In Wedges

Preparation

Rinse cheek meat (see note below) and cut away as much fat and visible gristle as possible. Cube into large pieces. Put cheek meat into a large crock pot and season well with salt, pepper, comino (cumin), oregano and garlic powder. (I estimated amounts above.) Remove the skins from the garlic cloves, cut off the little hard end and throw them in whole.

Add the bay leaf and squeeze the juice of the limes over all. Add the beef stock (I use Kitchen Basics), stir, cover and cook on high for at least 6 hours. I like to stir at least once an hour but there’s really no need to so skip that part if you are making this on a day when you are out of the house. I was prepared to go to 8 hours cook time but at 6 hours the meat was falling apart and was all gooey and melting.

Lift the meat out with a slotted spoon and shredded it with two forks. Discard any solid fat or any remaining ooey bits like vein or gristle. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed. The texture and slight stickiness is exactly what I’ve been craving. If you trim it well, it won’t be anywhere near as greasy as some barbacoa (I’m looking at you, Taco Cabana). It has a rich meaty flavor with a faint citrus hint from the lime.

Serve on flour or corn tortillas (your preference) and garnish with diced onion, cilantro and salsa, with perhaps another squeeze of lime juice on top. Easy, easy recipe and takes me back to Austin and San Antonio, to the days when Barbacoa was only available on Sundays at little mercados in the barrio.

(In the photo above, the barbacoa taco is the one in the middle.)

Note: While there are Mexican grocery stores in my area, the nicest beef cheek meat I found was at Walmart, of all places. I usually dislike shopping there but will go when I’m making barbacoa.

5 Comments

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Amanda lissette Castellanos on 4.22.2017

Thank you so much for the recipe I live in Indianapolis but I’m from San Marcos Texas and the barbacoa here is different I don’t like it it’s red with alot of liquid lol idk if I explain myself but I been telling my husband how Texas has the best barbacoa I found your recipe I did it lastnite and it was ready for this morning and omg the flavor excellent thank you thank you my husband said it’s delicious :)

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southtexassweetie on 2.16.2011

There is one taqueria here that makes the best barbacoa and you’re sure making me wish I had one taco right now!! Yes, the cheek meat produces the best flavored barbacoa!!

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SocialKim on 2.16.2011

@chrisr: you could try using a chuck roast but will probably have to cook it longer and possibly at a lower temperature. The beef cheek meat has a higher fat content and is marbled with connective tissue that melts as it cooks, giving this dish it’s signature stickiness and rich, meaty flavor. I think I might try it with a pork roast before a chuck, just for the fat content. You definitely will want to check for seasoning after you shred the meat, too.

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southtexassweetie on 2.15.2011

Oh yes…I love barbacoa!!! Try it with onions, nopalitos (cactus) and a little bit of cilantro…HEAVENLY!!!

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chrisr on 2.15.2011

can you use a chuck roast?

2 Reviews

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beara713 on 7.21.2011

wonderfull

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sbingram on 2.21.2011

I made this yesterday and it was so wonderful. My husband had never had beef cheek and he loved it.

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