When I was a kid growin up in the Midwest, Mexican food wasn't nearly as prevalent as it is today. We did have a Taco Bell and a Chi Chi's, but that was about it.
My mom, however, grew up in Los Angeles, and had eaten much more authentic Mexican food than we were likely to find. We had tacos reasonably often - and they were always with soft corn tortillas and shredded beef.
These barabacoa beef tacos remind me of those tacos from my childhood. The beef is first braised in low-heat for several hours, until the veggies and herbs are infused throughout and the meat is super-tender. Then, you throw the beef on the grill for a few minutes to get some great texture and flavor.
The braising liquid is pureed and turned into a delicious sauce. It is super-flavorful, but not too spicy - if you'd like some extra heat, add cayenne to the sauce after you puree it.
These are fantastic with the sauce, a little cheese and a little sour cream. They take a little extra time - but most of that time is braising time... and since you don't need to watch the braising, you can go out and enjoy your day while your food cooks. Time for fun AND a great dinner? Who can ask for more?!
Barbacoa Beef Tacos
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours
Ingredients (Serves 6)
- 4 large ancho or pasilla chiles, stemmed and seeded
- 4 dried chipotle chiles, stemmed
- 2 medium carrots, chopped
- 1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
- 15 garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
- 8 bay leaves
- Six 1-lb., English-cut, bone-in beef short ribs
- 2 tablespoons dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- Kosher salt
- Warm corn tortillas, oregano sprigs, shredded cheese, sour cream for serving
- Preheat the oven to 325°.
- In a large roasting pan, toss the ancho and chipotle chiles with the carrots, onion, garlic and bay leaves. In a large bowl, toss the short ribs with the oregano, cumin and 2 tablespoons of salt. Arrange the ribs over the vegetables in the roasting pan. Add 2 cups of water to the pan, cover tightly with foil and braise in the oven for about 3 1/2 hours, until the meat is very tender.
- Transfer the ribs to a baking sheet. Strain the braising liquid through a colander set over a heatproof bowl; skim off any fat. Discard the bay leaves and return the vegetables and chiles to the braising liquid. Working in batches, puree the vegetables and liquid in a blender until smooth. Season the sauce with salt and pepper. (If you like a little heat, add some cayenne pepper to the sauce now)
- Working in batches if necessary, grill the ribs over high heat, turning occasionally, until charred and crisp, about 5 minutes total. Transfer to a platter and, using two forks, shred the meat; discard the bones. Serve the barbacoa in warm corn tortillas with the sauce, oregano, chopped onion, cheese and sour cream.
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