Classic Barbacoa Recipe


The ultimate dish for a party, informal gathering or while watching the footie is Barbacoa is a classic dish from Mexico. This long-slow-cooked dish has punchy seasonings of chipotle peppers, cumin, cloves and endless variations it seems everyone has their recipe. Use brisket as it stands up well to the lengthy cooking time and it is a relatively cheap cut of beef or stewing beef also works well.


For the Marinade:

3 tablespoons chipotle paste, or sauce

1 teaspoon dried oregano

2 teaspoons ground cumin

Pinch ground cloves

2 tablespoons tomato paste

For the Stew:

1 kg piece of brisket

4 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 red onion (roughly sliced)

2 garlic cloves (crushed)

2 limes (juiced)

120 ml apple cider vinegar

600 ml beef stock

3 bay leaves (lightly crushed)

Salt and pepper

Make the Barbacoa:

  1. Mix the chipotle, cumin, oregano, cloves and tomato paste in a large bowl.
    Cut the brisket into 12 large pieces, remove any hard surface fat. Pop the meat into the bowl with the marinade, stir well, cover with Clingfilm and leave as long as possible, overnight is best.
  2. Heat a large frying pan or wok, add the vegetable oil and sear the brisket a few chunks at a time until browned. Keep to one side.
  3. Lower the heat slightly and add the onions to the same pan and stir well to scoop up all the bits of the marinade in the pan, cook for a few minutes then add the garlic.
  4. Tip the onions and garlic into a slow cooker (or casserole dish is using the oven) put the beef on top.
  5. Deglaze the frying pan with the lime juice and vinegar, then add the beef stock, scrape any bits from the base of the pan bring to a boil and reduce by one third, pour over the meat. Add the bay leaves, pop a lid on and cook on low for 10 hours or until the beef is falling apart and the sauce reduced.
  6. Leave the barbacoa to cool and then refrigerate overnight, the dish can also be kept covered in the fridge for a couple of days, this will enhance the flavours no end.
  7. Reheat thoroughly before serving and check the seasoning.

3 Ways to Serve Barbacoa: :

First, shred the meat with two forks and stir through the sauce.

1. Use as a filling for tacos or tortillas with salsa, guacamole, shredded lettuce, refried beans or any of the usual toppings. Top with Adobo sauce  (or buy a good quality one) for a really authentic flavour.
2. Use baby gems leaves as serving cups, great for parties.
3. Over steamed rice.


Barbacoa RecipCredit: © Elaine Lemm