matt’s recipe challenge: barbacoa

After a long break in the cooking challenge due to traveling and other random things, I was finally able to get back to cooking this weekend thanks to my beautiful wife.

This week challenge was Barbacoa. Well, it was supposed to be. Rachel and I bought a roast not too long ago because it was on sale for a really good price and while we didn’t know what we would do with it, we liked the possibilities.

Growing up in Texas, barbacoa was always something that was mainly just slow-cooked meat (most likely barbecued) in a tortilla (just meat and a tortilla, no veggies). Due to different places and different offerings to animals in the different regions of Mexico, the meat could have been anything from roast to tongue to even brains. It just depended on who made it. Well, I thought what better way than to use a part of this roast for a reminder of home. This ended up being far from home. In fact, on this cooking journey we will be visiting central mexico.

Courtesy of one of my favorite chefs, Rick Bayless, we were able to find a recipe for barbacoa online, here. This is called barbacoa de Borrego (which translates to lamb barbecue). As I started looking at this recipe, I noticed there was a whole bunch of things going on here that I never remember in my little taco shack tacos from back home. Also, because we don’t have a grill, we had to modify this recipe to cook in the oven. The recipe itself isn’t especially hard but it also wasn’t what either of us thought when we first decided to do it.

The first modification was we used roast instead of lamb (it is still a little out of our price range for a trial recipe). The second modification was putting the roast in an oven safe bakeware with the rest of the veggies and ingredients. So instead of the roast dripping into the bakeware (like the recipe suggest), we just included it and let the juices flow naturally into the rest of the pan. The roast still remained very moist and thankfully was not dried out. Also, we would turn it over every 30 minutes just to try and help it out some. Third modification was that we aren’t very patient people so instead of slow-cooking this, we bumped up the temp to 325 in the oven. It ended up cooking for 1.5 hours and the veggies were done yet still had a crispness to them.

We pulled the roast out of the dish and salted it generously and let it sit under foil for 20 minutes. We were not able to skim a lot of the fat off the top like it suggest but maybe you will have better luck than us. Rachel then cut up the chipotle chile in adobo and put it and the cilantro into the pan. One thing I forgot to mention to Rachel was to deseed the chile. I tried the adobo sauce and it was crazy hot. Plus, adding the seeds to it made it even hotter. I like spice as much as the next guy but this was ridiculously hot. We got used to it after a while, but we went through water like no tomorrow.

It talks about putting the soup in a separate bowl and then using tortillas with the meat. If we do this again, we will probably just put everything in a big bowl and eat it like that. It ended up working better to eat it as a stew than a taco with a soup side. Just our own personal preference though.

Overall, we both really enjoyed this dish even though it was super-hot. It was a great dish full of flavor and was very filling. It might not have been what I was thinking of to begin, but we got to enjoy something different and that is what adventure is all about. We found something worth doing again and highly recommend trying this out.

New recipes await us,

Matt & Rachel

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