One of my favorite things from Chipotle, the happiest place on Earth, is their barbacoa. I can't type with any authority on what authentic barbacoa entails (cow head?!) but this is my take on Chipotle's version with some interesting twists. My version is basically a spicy braised beef with sauce and I proceed accordingly. But first! Let's inspect the ingredients.
The Raw Team
The Raw Team in this recipe is played by two and a half smallish Vidalias, most of a clove of garlic, and about 6 pounds of chuck roast. In this case, because the butchers at my local megamart hate me, the chuck roast is boneless which annoys me to no end. I would have much rather used a couple 7-bone roasts but I'll be damned if I can find one anywhere on the eastern seaboard. I do like chuck for this application, though, since it's full of fat and connective tissue, very tasty, generally inexpensive, and is generally considered the "classic pot roast".
The Spice Team
Given that this is a classic braise, we want to end up with a flavorful liquid and chunkies. Thus, we require the services of:
If that seems like a lot of spice, recall that we have about 6 pounds of meat here and it's all going into a crock pot full of braising liquid. Depending on your particular setup, you may require more or less but the intent is to end up with spicy beef when it's all said and done.
Just like I would with a normal pot roast, I seared the beef as best I could without burning down the apartment. This had the expected result of filling the place with smoke but curiously failed to set off the fire alarms.
Into the pot also went the 2.5 onions (sliced) and most of the head of garlic (smashed), and all the spices including the entirety of the can of chipotles. For those who aren't in the know, a chipotle is a smoked jalapeno. I usually get these dried, but in this instance I really wanted the adobo. To quote the great AB: "Adobo is dang tasty but it is double dang hot so don't go addin' more unless you knows what yous doin'." Luckily, I knows what I'm doin'! I can only guess what adobo actually is but if you get canned chipotles, it's almost always present. Don't go rubbing your eyes after handling it, though, I mean it.
Fill the pot until you get the meat mostly submerged, lid it up, turn it on, then let the waiting begin...
Many hours later and your home will be filled with the aroma of cooking chiles and beef which is a pretty awesome thing. You want to cook it long enough that it's going to defy easy extraction by falling apart. In my case, I was impatient and only waited 8 hours. I usually start these kinds of things off in the early morning and eat in the late evening (10 to 14 hours).
Once extracted, allow to cool a bit before shredding. Bonus points if you can restrain yourself from eating the super-heated meat off the platter prior to shredding (super tasty, tho). If you've ever shredded pork barbecue, this is the same maneuver.
This is where things get a little nuts. As is typcial with a large volume of water braise, most of the spice ends up in the liquid and I'm not about to let all that awesome chipotle, er, awesomeness off without a fair trial. Sadly, I have no visual evidence of the procedure, but it went a little something like this:
Far be it for me to tell you how to eat your barbacoa, but here's what I did with it:
Fiesta rice, pintos or black beans, your choice of salsas, or guac would all be welcome additions to the feast but I didn't have any of the above on hand. Also note that the whole wheat tortilla isn't strictly on my diet but, meh, I figured I'd splurge a bit.
As this recipe is a work in progress, I'm constantly looking for ways to improve it. Some of the stuff I'm thinking about: