by georgegsp

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.


Serves: 4-6 Prep Time: Cooking Time:


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

To serve

Salsa Mexicana

You also need

a meat thermometer


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
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