Wine Wednesday: Barbacoa is a slow cooker’s best friend

Tacos as to be the simplest way to feed a lot of people, and on a recent trip to Puerto Rico, I had one of my favorite meats Barbacoa in a taco.  If you live in an area where there is a Chipotle, you know this savory stuffing is tender and has full rich, complex flavors. Yes, my mouth is watering now!  What I love is that I can now reproduce this in my own home…in my slow cooker.

I highly recommend you put a slow cooker on your wedding registry list.  This is something that you will absolutely use (especially in the winter) that you just throw lots of good things in this pot, set it and let it do it’s thing…while you do yours. Trust me this will become your favorite kitchen product.  Why?  You won’t have to spend hours in the kitchen preparing food when there may be other things you want to do.

Barbacoa is a simple dish that can be made into all sorts of meals. You might make tacos, burritos, extreme nachos, even hash for breakfast in the morning. Once it’s prepared, the uses are endless and if you’re anything like me…you’ll be eating it straight from the pot. It really is THAT GOOD.

What I also love about this, is it’s perfect as we head toward the fall…can someone say “Football Tailgate”? It freezes really well and if you use a muffin tin, you can make individual portions for smaller gatherings.  Just pour the sauce over the top to help the meat freeze in a solid chuck and pop out when you need it.  Hey, I’m trying to make it easy for ya.  Of course the best way to ‘refresh’ is an ice cold beer but you can have iced tea or what ever your favorite beverage is.  Enjoy!

Slow Cooker Barbacoa Beef
Makes enough meat to stuff 30 tacos

4 chipotle peppers (from a can) plus all the adobo sauce it sits in
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 red onion, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 head garlic, peeled and cloves smashed
5 dry bay leaves
2 teaspoons ground cloves
1 tablespoon kosher salt
Juice of 4 limes
1/2 cup cider vinegar
5 to 7 pounds beef brisket
4 to 6 cups beef or chicken stock

Stir together chipotle peppers and sauce, cilantro, red onion, garlic, clove, salt, lime juice, and cider vinegar in the insert of a slow cooker (if you have a food processor, pulse till combined first before adding). Place the brisket on top of this mixture. (I like to cut my brisket in two pieces so it fits better in the slow cooker.) Add stock to cover the meat and place bay leaves on top. Use tongs to move the meat around gently to combine everything and put the lid on.

Cook on HIGH for 4 hours. Once finished, turn crock pot to WARM and let sit for 6 to 8 hours. (perfect to start before you head to bed and let it be on ‘warm’ while you sleep)

Remove meat from slow cooker and place on rimmed baking sheet. Use two forks to pull the meat apart. Discard the fat, if desired. If you plan on frying it again before use, the small fat bits are extra tasty and should be kept! Place shredded beef in large bowl and ladle cooking liquid over the top a few scoops at a time. You want the meat to hold the liquid but not swim in it.

To keep it warm for guests you can return it to your slow cooker after you have removed the remaining liquid. That liquid is extra tasty and can be frozen into ice cube-sized portions to be used in other dishes later, if you so desire. Serve with fresh tortillas, onion, cilantro, and salsa.

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