Barbacoa originated in the Caribbean and is the root of the word “barbecue”. It’s usually made with a whole cow’s head buried in a pit, but even I would struggle to find a whole head, so I’ve adapted it to suit modern tastes and availability of ingredients. If, however, you did find yourself with a whole head to cook, there are plenty of tasty bits to be rooted out with a bit of persistence. Barbacoa, is now associated with Texas ‘cue, hence the more Tex-Mex style of garnish.
4 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
2 tablespoons Maldon sea salt flakes
1 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
1 tablespoon ground cumin
a pinch of ground cloves
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 kg ox cheek
200 ml Basic Beef Broth
100 ml Chipotle Ketcup
100 g beef dripping
juice of 1 lime
You also need
a meat thermometer
- Mix the garlic, salt, spices and oregano together to make the rub. Coat the ox cheek with three-quarters of the rub, then cover and leave overnight in the fridge. Set the rest of the rub aside.
- Preheat a barbecue or smoker according to the manufacturer's instructions. Smoke the ox cheeks at 110oC for 4 hours, until an internal temperature of 90oC is reached when the meat is tested with a meat thermometer or until tender and yielding to the touch.
- Meanwhile prepare the sauce. In a saucepan bring the Basic Beef Broth, Chipotle Ketchup, beef dripping and lime juice to the boil, then simmer until reduced by half.
- Shred the ox cheek just before serving and mix with the reduce sauce, then season with the extra sub and serve with warmed tortillas, Guacamole and Salsa Mexicana.