World's Greatest Barbacoa Beef

I'm serious, this is the best barbacoa beef recipe I've had. It's smoky, savory, and a little spicy, and perfect for tacos or any number of Mexican main dishes.

You'll need:
  • 1 whole California chile 
  • 1 whole ancho chile
  • 1 whole guajillo chile
  • 2 Tbs oil (for the pan)
  • 1 small onion, quartered and peeled
  • 6 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 4 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, seeded + 2 tsp sauce from the can
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp dried Mexican oregano
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1 c beef broth (or use 1 tsp powdered beef bouillon + 1 c water)
  • 1/4 c vinegar
  • 2 tsp fish sauce
  • 4 lb chuck roast
  • 2 bay leaves

Rehydrate the dried chiles:
Click here for a detailed tutorial! Stem and seed the three dried chiles, then sear in the oil in a hot pan for 30 seconds per side until shiny and charred. Soak in hot water for 20 to 30 minutes, making sure they are submerged. Drain the chiles before using them in the sauce.

Blend the sauce:
While chiles soak, prep the chipotles by taking four from the can and cutting them in half, then run a knife along the inside of them to remove seeds and flesh. (It will be spicy enough without them!) Cut the onion into large pieces. Smash the garlic and peel.

In a large waterproof blender, add chiles, onion, garlic, chipotles with 2 tsp additional sauce, spices, broth, vinegar, and fish sauce. Blend until liquified.

Marinate the meat:
Using a sharp knife, poke 5 or 6 holes in the chuck roast and put the roast into a large freezer bag. Pour marinade into the bag and seal. Turn it a few times until meat is coated, then put in the refrigerator for 8 hours, up to 2 days, to marinate.

Put the chuck roast, with all the sauce, into a Dutch oven on the stove (or another heavy pan). (Here is a link to my trusty Lodge Dutch oven.) Add a couple of teaspoons of salt.  Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer until fork tender - about 4 hours. As long as you are using a heavy pan, covered tightly, you shouldn't have to worry about the liquid evaporating up all the way, but if you are using a regular pot then check periodically and add beef broth as needed so that it doesn't dry out and stick to the pan.

Remove the pan from heat when the beef is tender, and let rest about half an hour so it cools a bit. Then remove the beef from the pan with tongs, trimming fat as you go if it's cool enough to handle. It should shred easily. Serve shredded beef on warm corn tortillas with cilantro, diced white onions, or salsa for authentic barbacoa tacos, or use in enchiladas or empanadas as leftovers.

Suggested Soundtrack: "Parecen Viernes" by Marc Anthony