I’ve never been to Chipotles but I love Barbacoa

It’s a long weekend here and while Lord Simcoe is probably another racist, white conqueror I’m still not going to say no to an extra day off. It’s also hovering in the low to mid 30s (Celsius) which is pretty awesome when you have a pool and air conditioning. I know #firstworldproblems #notactuallyaproblem

With a revolving door of guests (love this!!) I decided to make barbacoa over el pastor. El pastor always turns out a little too mealy here; I don’t know if my pineapple to pork ratio is off or if it marinates too long or if it’s supposed to be like that?! Anyway, that refinement is for another time. This weekend called for barbacoa. Every time I’ve had barbacoa at sort of local places it’s been “okay”. It sounds great on the chalkboard menus but never has the beefiness or the flavour punch I want. To the interwebs and one of my favourite food/recipe sites Serious Eats! I found a recipe for “better than chipotle’s barbacoa” and despite having never been to Chipotles decided to give it a try.


To say that a friend and I ate this beef with our hands right out of the pot is not exaggerating,

To say that this recipe and dish was everything I wanted it to be and more is bang on.

I adapted liberally because I just didn’t feel like doing all the prep work and to say that it didn’t make a difference might be an exaggeration but none of us knew better. Kids that weren’t mine mentioned the spice factor but still ate it. Kids that are mine described “shoving the entire tortilla in my mouth and going for seconds of the beef.”

Here we go:

Four pretty big chunks of ox tail and three massive beef shank “steaks” with marrow (oh my gawd marrow.) seasoned very generously with salt.

2 medium, diced Vidalia onions, 4-6 cloves minced garlic, 3 San Marzano tomatoes and a heap of dried oregano plus a sprinkle of jerk seasoning (because it had all the spices in it already without needing to measure each one out)

Olive oil, apple cider vinegar, a can of Mexican green salsa (honestly? Because I opened the wrong can); four chipotle chilies canned in adobo sauce plus the sauce.

A couple each of dried ancho, poblano and guarillo chilies soaked in water and chicken stock. Seeded and stemmed.

Toss everything but the beef into a Dutch oven and purée with your eyes closed or you know, purée in a tall jar first. Pour over the beef.

Place in an oven preheated to 275F with the lid off and cook for four hours. Leave it in there until ready to serve.

Remove shanks to separate meat from bone. It should pretty much fall right off and can easily be shredded. Then, fight your friends and kids for the marrow.

Serve on warm corn tortillas. CORN tortillas people. WARM ones. This is not the time for factory produced mass market waxy flour wraps. Those aren’t tortillas despite the marketing gimmick.

Garnish with finely diced green onion, radish and tomato. Drizzle with green salsa or squeeze a wedge of lime on it.

Wish you were still hungry so you could do it all again.

You’re welcome.

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