Barbacoa Beef Cheek Tacos

By • January 19, 2010 68 Comments

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Author Notes: I couldn't face a whole cow head ... so I made this with cheeks. The marinade turns into a thick, rich almost mole-like sauce ... delicious!aargersi

Food52 Review: When we asked for “nose to tail” recipes, we didn’t expect to see many universal crowd-pleasers, but aargersi’s tacos are just that. The beef cheeks, marbled and melting after over three hours in the oven, absorb the various marinade components (spices, coffee, chili, peanut butter) and sing with freshness of the lime juice in which they’re braised. Add a warm corn tortilla, some addictive pink pickled onions, a slab of avocado and a fistful of cilantro leaves, and you’ve got a taco fit for the toughest critic. Make sure to save any leftover onions! – A&MThe Editors

Serves 6-8 (depends how many tacos each person can eat!)

Pickled Onions

  • 1 red onion
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 a beet
  • 1 handful cilantro
  • 1 part water
  • 2 parts cider vinegar
  1. Slice the onions very thinly and put them in a microwaveable container. Add the beet, cilantro, salt and sugar. Cover everything with 1 part water to 2 parts vingar.
  2. microwave for 1 minute, stir, and microwave for another minute. Cool, then refridgerate overnight. The beet will turn it a really pretty hot pink color.

Barbacoa Beef Cheeks

  • 2 1/2 pounds beef cheeks
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon natural peanut butter
  • 1 ancho chili
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (plus 2 more for cooking)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
  • 1 handful fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chicken broth (you can use beef too, I just had chicken on hand)
  • 3 limes
  • 1 avocado
  • corn tortillas
  • fresh cilantro
  1. Clean and trim the cheeks. Put them in a container that you can marinate them in.
  2. Remove the stem and seeds from the ancho, cut it up into chunks and rehydrate in a little water (I stick it in a ramekin and microwave for 30 seconds)
  3. Peel and chop the garlic. Put everything from the garlic to the salt in the food processor (including the water from the chili) and blend into a paste. Toss the paste with the cheeks and marinate for several hours or better yet over night.
  4. When it is time to cook, heat the oven to 275, and heat 2 tbs olive oil in a dutch oven. Brown the cheeks on both sides. Use the broth to rinse the rest of the marinade into the dutch oven, then squeeze the juice of 3 limes in.
  5. Bake at 275 for 3 1/2 hours - turn the cheeks over once or twice while they cook and if the liquid dries up add a bit more broth
  6. When the cheeks are fall-apart tender, take the pan out of the oven. Using 2 forks, pull the meat apart in the pan so that it mixes in with all of that fatty juicy goodness.
  7. To serve - heat 2 tortillas (I like to double wrap the taco as they are juicy). Fill with barbacoa, a slice of avocado, some of pickled onions and fresh cilantro. Serve and enjoy!!!

More Great Recipes: Beef & Veal|Entrees

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