From Emeril’s Kicked Up Sandwiches: Stacked with Flavor
Barbacoa is, in the simplest terms, the original barbecue. In modern-day Mexico it can take on many forms, though traditionally it refers to meat wrapped in leaves and cooked over hot coals in a pit. The result: moist, tender meat that is then shredded or pulled apart and eaten with simple, intensely flavored sauces and soft tortillas. Today many cooks achieve similar results by braising or steaming, and that’s what I’ve done here.
- One boneless 3-pound chuck roast
- 6 cloves garlic, halved lengthwise
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano, crumbled between your fingers
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 medium tomato, cored and finely chopped
- 2 chipotle chiles in adobo, finely chopped (about 2 tablespoons)
- 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 cups beef stock or packaged low-sodium beef broth
- 20 small corn or flour tortillas, warmed according to package directions
- 2 avocados, peeled, seeded, and cut into thin lengthwise slices
- Mexican crema or sour cream, for serving (optional)
- Red Onion and Tomato Salsa Fresca (recipe follows) or your favorite salsa, for serving
- 3 medium-size ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped (about 2 cups)
- 1 to 2 jalapeños, minced
- 1/4 cup minced red onion
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
To make the barbacoa: Remove the chuck roast from the refrigerator and allow it to sit out at room temperature for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 325°F.
Using the tip of a sharp paring knife, make 12 evenly spaced slits on all sides of the roast, and insert half a garlic clove deep into each slit. Season the roast on both sides with the salt and black pepper.
Heat a large Dutch oven over high heat and add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the roast and cook until nicely browned on one side, 4 to 6 minutes. Turn the roast over and continue cooking until browned on the second side, 4 to 6 minutes longer. While the roast is browning on the second side, add the onion, thyme sprigs, bay leaves, cumin, oregano, cloves, and allspice around the meat in the pot and cook, stirring occasionally. The vegetables should be soft by the time the roast is done browning.
Add the tomato and cook until it releases its juices, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the chipotle chiles, cider vinegar, and beef stock, and bring to a simmer. Cover the pot and transfer it to the oven. Braise, turning the roast once every hour, until the meat is fork-tender and falling apart, 3 to 3 1/2 hours.
Remove the pot from the oven and discard the bay leaves and thyme sprigs. Using two forks, shred the meat. Stir the shredded meat gently to combine it with the pan juices. Then cover to keep it warm until ready to serve.
To assemble the tacos: Spoon about 1/4 cup of the shredded meat down the center of a warmed tortilla, and top with 2 thin slices of avocado. Drizzle with some of the crema, and spoon a bit of salsa on top. Repeat with the remaining tacos.
For the Salsa Fresca: In a medium nonreactive bowl, combine the tomatoes, jalapeños, red onion and lime juice. On a cutting board, mash the garlic and salt together, using the side of a chef’s knife, to form a paste. Then add the garlic paste and the cilantro to the salsa, and stir to combine. Set aside briefly for the flavors to come together. Then serve with chips or as a topping for tacos, burritos, or quesadillas. This is best used the day it is made.