Barbacoa-Style Beef for a Small-ish Gathering

July 14, 2014
Author Notes

California Rancho cooking is heritage cooking. It is the original California cuisine no matter how badly Alice Waters devotees might try to prove differently. Based on early Spanish settlements and native communities, it is a wonderful cuisine more closely related to Mexico than France. —thirschfeld

  • Serves 8 to 10
  • 4 1/2 pounds rolled chuck roast (look for good marbling)
  • Salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coffee
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon Ancho chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup water, plus more if needed
  • 5 rosemary sprigs, each about 3 inches long
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
In This Recipe
  1. Season the beef with salt. Let the salt absorb into the meat; this will take about 20 minutes. Combine the coffee, cocoa powder, cinnamon, Ancho, garlic powder, and brown sugar. Rub the spice mix all over the meat.
  2. Combine the flour and water. Make a dough that is elastic, but not sticky. You may need to add water one tablespoon at a time to get the right consistency. Roll the dough out into a long worm. Place the dough around the lip of the pot.
  3. Place the roast into the pot along with the sprigs of rosemary. Place the lid onto the dough ring, pushing down firmly to create an air-tight seal. Don't push too hard, though, or you might end up cutting the dough instead of sealing the pot.
  4. Place the pot into a 325° F oven, or, for those using an American Dutch oven with legs and a exterior lip on the lid, set up a 13/8 coal spread: 13 coals on top and 8 on the bottom. If you are working with coals, you will need to replace the spread about 5 times.
  5. Roast the chuck roast around 4 to 5 hours in the oven (if you cook this on the coals it went for 8 hours(lots of temperature fluctuation). Remove it from the oven and place it on a sturdy trivet at the table. Crack the dough and lift the lid. Shred the beef and serve; I like to put wrap it up as tacos.

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