Better Than Chipotle's Beef Barbacoa
Note: Look for dried chilis in a large supermarket or latin market. If you can't find these exact chilis, any combination of mild, fruity and bright-tasting chilis will do, such as guajillo or Colorado. Barbacoa can be stored in its liquid for up to five days in refrigerator. The flavor should improve with time. Reheat gently on the stovetop or the microwave. Serve with store-bought or homemade corn tortillas (recipe here), and make sure to reheat them right!
About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Chief Creative Officer of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.
Better Than Chipotle's Beef Barbacoa
About This Recipe
|Yield:||serves 6 to 10|
|Active time:||45 minutes|
|Total time:||5 hours|
|Special equipment:||Dutch oven, blender|
|This recipe appears in:||The Food Lab: How To Make Beef Barbacoa Better Than Chipotle's|
- 1 whole dried New Mexico, costeño, or choricero chili, seeds and stem removed (see notes above)
- 1 whole chile ancho or pasilla, seeds and stem removed (see notes above)
- 1 whole chile negro, seeds and stem removed (see notes above)
- 1 quart low sodium store-bought or homemade chicken stock, divided
- 3 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil, divided
- 1 pound oxtails
- 1 small onion, finely sliced
- 6 medium cloves garlic, smashed
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 4 chipotle chilis packed in adobo, roughly chopped, with 2 tablespoons adobo sauce
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons fish sauce
- 1 whole chuck-eye roast (about 4 pounds), or 4 pounds boneless shortribs
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 whole bay leaves
- Kosher salt
- Warm corn tortillas, onions, cilantro, salsa, limes, and other condiments for serving
Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and preheat oven to 275°F. Place chilis in bottom of a large Dutch oven and heat over high heat. Cook, turning chilis with tongs occasionally until fragrant and toasted, about 3 minutes. Transfer chilis to a small saucepan and cover with 2 cups chicken broth. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to a simmer, and cook until chilis are completely tender, about 15 minutes. Set aside.
Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil in now-empty Dutch oven over high heat until shimmering. Cook oxtails until well-browned on all sides, about 8 minutes total. Remove oxtails and set aside. Reduce heat to medium.
Add remaining two tablespoons oil and heat along with onions and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until deep brown and just starting to burn, about 10 minutes. Add cumin, cloves, and oregano and cook, stirring constantly until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add chipotle chilis, vinegar, and remaining chicken broth. Scrape up browned bits from bottom of pan, simmer until reduced by about half, then transfer entire contents to the jar of a blender.
Add soaked chilis and their liquid to the blender along with fish sauce. Start blender on low and slowly increase speed to high. Puree until smooth, about 1 minute. Set aside.
Place beef chuck in Dutch oven. Add oxtails, bay leaves, and sauce. Bring to a boil over high heat. Place lid on pot slightly cracked, then transfer to oven. Cook, turning beef occasionally, until completely tender and a cake tester or metal skewer inserted into meat shows little to no resistance, about 4 hours. Discard bay leaves and oxtails (meat from oxtails can be eaten if desired). Transfer chuck to a large plate. Return Dutch oven to stovetop and cook, stirring frequently, over medium-high heat until liquid is reduced to about 1 1/2 cups, about 5 minutes.
Beef can be cut and served immediately, but for best flavor, transfer beef to a sealed container along with liquid and refrigerate up to five days. When ready to serve, slice beef against the grain into 1 1/2- to 2-inch slices, then shred into large chunks with fingers or two forks. Return beef to a pot along with the sauce. Bring to a simmer and cook, gently stirring and folding until beef is hot, tender, and coated in sauce. Season to taste with salt. Serve immediately, piling the beef into warm corn tortillas with onions, cilantro, salsa, limes, or other condiments as desired. Alternatively, serve as-is with rice, noodles, grits, or corn bread