I’ll lead with this: “It’s tender enough to gently stroke a dead kitten back to life, with flavor like a cow eating another cow while wearing leather.”
Intrigued? Kenji from the Food Lab at Serious Eats is talking about barbacoa, and if there was ever a metaphor that could motivate me to spend hours slow-braising beef shoulder, this is it.
Traditional Mexican barbacoa involves whole sheep, slow-cooked in maguey leaf-covered pits; I’m not sure I could find the time (or the pits) for that on an average Wednesday, but this less traditional version, scented with cumin and chipotle, is no less delicious. The thoroughly-tested recipe doesn’t cut corners, either. It uses three different kinds of chiles, two different cuts of beef, and a spice blend to end all spice blends. But don’t worry, Serious Eats breaks it all down for us, ingredient by ingredient.
The Food Lab: How to Make Beef Barbacoa Better Than Chipotle's from Serious Eats