Spicy chipotle peppers are what makes beef barbacoa so unique. This Mexican shredded beef can spice up any dish you love.
Beef Barbacoa is so tasty and versatile that it can be used in just about any dish you want. We even make Barbacoa Burgers out of it. It’s the perfect addition to tacos, burritos, even nachos. When you see how easy it is to make, you might just add it to your regular dinner rotation.
If you love Mexican food, you’ll definitely want to start making beef barbacoa at home. It’s the perfect slow cooker or Instant Pot recipe, because these two methods of cooking allow the sauce to really meld with the meat, and for the meat to break down into melt in your mouth little morsels.
The best part: the leftovers can be used for days in different dishes, so you won’t have to cook again for a few days, if you don’t want to.
Spicy Chipotle Sauce
The thing that often stops people from wanting to make barbacoa is the spice factor. Chipotle peppers are spicy and if you add too many it can overpower the beef and be too spicy for most people to enjoy.
The best way to deal with this issue is to cut open the chipotle peppers and remove the seeds. We buy chipotle peppers in adobo sauce in a can. I like the La Costena and La Morena brands.
Chipotle peppers in Adobo sauce is a chili sauce that is made from red jalapeno peppers in sauce made with various spices, vinegar, onion and tomatoes. In a small 7 oz can, there are around nine whole peppers. Just as you wouldn’t probably eat a fresh jalapeno without removing the seeds, I suggest not attempting to do that with these either.
If you want to try to make your own chipotle peppers at home, here’s a guide to follow.
What is Barbacoa?
Barbacoa is a traditional method of cooking that originated in the Caribbean, but is widely used across Central and South America too, as a way of slow cooking meat with spices. You can use beef, pork, lamb, chicken – whatever kind of meat your want. After cooking, the meat is shredded and used in other dishes.
This is where the term barbecue came from, though today’s barbecue is nothing at all like barbacoa. If you have a slow cooker, a pressure cooker, or even a pot to put on the stove or in the oven, you can make barbacoa. It’s a very easy way to make flavorful shredded meat with very little work.
How to Make Chipotle Barbacoa Beef
Start with browning the meat on all sides in a hot pan. This will seal in the juices and create a more flavorful meat. I like to use beef shin for this dish, but you can use just about any stewing meat you want. The bigger the chunks you leave the beef in, the longer your shreds of beef will be in the end.
Once the meat is browned, remove it from the pan. Add the onions and cook until translucent. Then add the dried spices and the crushed garlic and cook for an additional minute. Then add in the beef stock, vinegar, lime juice and sugar.
If you’re cooking your beef on the stove top, just add the beef back to the pot, cover and cook on low for about 4 hours. For a slow cooker, add the beef and the sauce to the cooker and cook on slow for 4-6 hours. When using a pressure cooker, add everything to the pot, bring the pot up to pressure and cook for 35 minutes.
When the beef is done, it will fall apart easily when you shred it with a fork. I suggest removing the meat from the pan to shred, then add in some of the cooking sauce until you’re desired consistency. I don’t like to overwhelm the meat with the sauce, so I put in just enough to saturate the meat without excess liquid.
What to Make with Barbacoa Beef?
Any Mexican dish goes well with barbacoa. You can make tacos or burritos with it, add it to the top of a plate of nachos, or even make a barbacoa burger with it. Beef bowls are also a great way to enjoy barbecoa. Just add rice, beans and meat to bowl and top with some pico de gallo and sour cream.
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Chipotle Beef Barbacoa Recipe
- 3 lb beef chuck roast
- 1/2 white onion chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 4 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce deseeded and chopped
- 1/2 cup beef broth
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
- 1/4 cup cilantro chopped
- 3 bay leaves
- pepper to taste
- salt to taste
- Cut the beef into 3-inch pieces. Season with salt and pepper. Brown the meat on all four sides in cooking oil on the stovetop. Remove meat.
- Add the onions to the pot. Cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin and oregano. Stir and cook for one minute.
- Add the chipotle peppers, beef broth, vinegar, lime juice and cilantro. Stir well to combine.
- Return the meat to the pan. Cover and cook over low heat for 4 hours. Meat is done when it can easily be shredded with a fork.
- Serve in tacos, burritos, or any other dish you like.