The same mouthwatering barbacoa street tacos you'll find in Cd. Juarez Chihuahua.
We moved around often during my childhood. From birth until I was 12 years old we relocated back and forth several times from my father's hometown of Ciudad Juarez Chihuahua, to its US border town of El Paso, Texas. During my mother's time there she learned to make Barbacoa in the same manner as the street taco vendors did. Barbacoa preparation methods differ greatly depending on what part of Mexico you're from. Some make it with shredded pork, sheep or beef, in broth, sauce or dry. It's inspiring how many variations there are. One of my absolute favorites is the way we used to have it in the streets of Juarez.
Due to limited resources we rarely ate out so my mother learned to recreate the foods she loved at home. Making barbacoa tacos was a special event for us since the meat felt like it took forever to cook and the anticipation of it had everyone asking, "Ya mero?" (almost?) now as an adult I can see why. The cut of meats this recipe uses takes approximately seven to nine hours to cook! If you have a pressure cooker I'm sure the time can be reduced to likely half? To be honest, I have never used a pressure cooker, call me a wimp but I cannot get behind something that can potentially explode in your face so don't take my word for it, please use your instruction manual to determine how long 9 hours translates into pressure cooker time.
Juarez Barbacoa Tacos
Disclaimer- I cannot in good faith determine the amount of tacos you will make out of this batch, reason being that tortillas vary in size and fill preference ranging anywhere from 2 oz to 6 oz or greater. I would recommend you follow the standard turkey-thanksgiving allowance of 1 lb per person to make sure you have enough leftovers to make machaca the next morning for breakfast (recipe feeds roughly about 10 people using these standards.) I wouldn't worry about making "too much," since all leftovers will be eaten in the next few days! You can eat tacos and burritos for several days after or even freeze for later. For this meat type you will need to go to a specialty meat store or butcher shop. Mexican Carnicerias are a great resource for this. Do a web search for, "Carniceria near me," which should bring up your closest Mexican meat butcher shops where you can purchase this unique cut of meat.
5 lbs of beef cheek (cachete)
5 lbs of beef lips (labios)
4 oz bottle of Kitchen Bouquet Browning Sauce
1 to 2 full onions, peeled and cut into fourths
10 garlic cloves
About 5 - 10 bay leaves
Pepper and salt to taste
Enough water to make sure all ingredients are covered.
* Chopped onions
* Chopped Cilantro
* Chopped cucumber
* Sliced lemon or lime
* Chopped or sliced radishes
You will need a large pot with lid to place all ingredients in.
This cut of meat is so unique that most butcher shops/ carnicerias will have this meat available frozen, you might want to call ahead to make sure they have it available before you head out. Defrost in refrigerator overnight.
Once defrosted you will be able to gage what size the meat has been cut into. If the pieces are too large, cut it a bit smaller- about 3 - 5 inches all around should be just fine.
Rinse the meat and place it in a large pot. Cover with water and put heat to high so that it barely begins to simmer. Do not leave it alone.
Once it barely starts to "want" to simmer, you will notice the top of the liquid in your pot will contain concentrated amounts of bubbles and grease. With a large spoon, begin spooning that top layer of bubbles and grease into a bowl or plastic container, skimming as much as you can of the thick layer of bubbles and grease from the top and placing it in the bowl/container. As the liquid continues to simmer, you will notice more and more bubbles and grease continually gathering in the top of the liquid, continue to remove this until there is a nice simmer and you no longer see any more bubbles. A small amount of grease is just fine but you want to remove all of the topical layer of bubbles that float to the top and toss in the trash or sink afterwards.
Lower the heat until you reach a nice rolling boil and add the bay leaves, Kitchen Bouquet, garlic cloves, onions, salt and pepper.
Make sure all ingredients are covered in liquid/ water. If they are not, put a container in the microwave with water to boil and add the boiling water into the pot until all ingredients are covered.
Cover the pot with its lid, lower the temp just slightly so the liquid does not spill over the pot and into the flames. Maintain a watchful eye until the pot is fully covered with the lid and keeps a consistent rolling boil with all the ingredients in it. Place your timer to 1 hour and you can leave it alone till your timer goes off. After the hour return and mix everything, making sure to scrape the whole bottom so that nothing is stuck to the bottom and to check the water/broth/liquid levels. Liquid levels should be fine but if the meat is not covered in liquid, separately boil more water and add to the pot. Cover again and put timer for another hour. Repeat this step until 7 - 9 hours have passed. Each time checking to make sure nothing is stuck to the bottom of the pot and liquid levels are fine. After 7 - 9 hours, (less if using a pressure cooker,) the meat should easily separate from the tough, off-white skin that comes attached to the meat. If the meat is still hard to pull from the skin, continue cooking an additional 1 to 2 hours.
Once the meat easily peels off the tough skin, remove the meat from the broth in order to cool. Once it has cooled down enough for you to comfortably handle with your hands, remove the off-white skin from each piece of meat and discard. Then chop all the meat into finely chopped minced meat.
Sift the beef broth clean from all onion, garlic and everything else that is inside the pot. Save the broth and with small amounts of broth you can maintain your minced meat moist while you refrigerate the leftovers. The rest of the broth you can save for later. Try freezing it to use for brown gravies!
The minced meat is now ready to use for tacos! Top with Mountain Screamer Green Salsa, onions, cilantro, radishes, chopped cucumbers, and lime!
If you have any meat leftovers, try using them for machaca breakfast burritos the next day! Let me know if you made this and how you made this your own!