Thursday, September 1, 2011

Barbacoa Beef Cheeks - Slow Cooker Style

well i thought i better throw the dog a bone and serve you all up some MEAT
did you think i forgot about all my carnivorous friends and followers?

here, for those of you still on the fence about "nose-to-tail" cooking, is a tasty and safe introduction to a less common cut of meat.
BEEF of those illusive parts that you might be introduced to in fancy restaurants (or an authentic taco stand IN Mexico), but never see or hear about anywhere else.

i finally found some in my Mexican market here in So. California.  soooo happy...

beef cheeks are the definition of unctuous....
go ahead look it up... 

i think it's a cross between Mom's (Momacita's) all day pot roast and slow cooked oxtails...a wonderful rich beefy flavor with a little sticky gooey texture you find with the oxtails.
the recipe i found has a wonderful blend of flavors... with a hint of lime citrus and warm undertones from the cumin and oregano.  the broth was like none i had had before.  i think the fact that there were NO onions or other vegetables in the slow cooking process really set this one apart from my other crock pot recipes...

i will definitely use this base recipe again and again.

BUT i gotta tell ya...this is the ugliest, most difficult piece of meat i have ever had to butcher.

note to self and more than you need because by the time you trim away the chunks of fat and grizzle AND veins and silver skin you will have about 1/2 of what you purchased.
i suggest buying it already trimmed or ask the butcher.

luckily i knew i didn't have enough to fill the crock pot so i bought 4 large short ribs to add in.
so, by all means if you can't handle beef cheeks, or just can't find them, use short ribs or another choice of fatty meat that works well for slow cooking.


the recipe calls for 6 pounds beef cheek meat
1 bought a package that read 2.65 pounds (that's all there was)...after trimming what ever i could i was left with 1 1/2 pounds so i supplemented with 4 large beef short ribs
2 tsp salt
2 tsp pepper
1 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp Mexican oregano (Mexican is best...get some)
2 tsp garlic powder
8 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 whole bay leaf
2 whole limes
1 cup beef broth...homemade, rendered form roasted beef bones is best
2 tsp Mexican chili powder, optional
1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne, optional
i think a little heat is always necessary...

rinse cheek meat and trim away as much fat, gristle and silver skin as possible...good luck with this.  it ain't a pleasant job.  cut into large pieces.
put meat into large crock pot (i think mine is a 5 1/2 qt.) and season well with salt, pepper, cumin, oregano and garlic powder.
add bay leaf and squeeze lime juice all over (pulp is fine)
add the beef stock.
stir slightly, cover and cook on HIGH for at least 6 hours...mine was in for a little over 7 hours.
i checked on mine after a few hours and gave it a little stir.
if the meat is fork "butter" tender you're good to go.

take the meat out with a slotted spoon and strain the broth.  the broth might come in handy to remoisten the meat if necessary...and the broth might just make a delicious soup base.  shred the meat and discard any solid fat or grizzle you might have missed in the lovely trimming process.  taste and season as you see fit.  try not to eat it all yourself while shredding and seasoning...

serve with your favorite tortillas, avocado, cilantro, crumbled queso fresco, fresh salsa, diced radish, etc etc etc...dress it up or just keep it simple....OR make little Tostaditas as i did for an interesting Mexican hors d'oeuvre...
maybe a fun amuse bouche for your next Mexican fiesta.


cparadis4219 said...

Bravo! To say the least, you are one of my culinary heros! Beef cheeks are fantastic and so under appreciated. I love the prepared the same way in burritos and tacos. Finally, someone not afraid of nose-to-tail eating like myself. Thank you!

Jules and Ruby said...

cpardis4219...thanks for the great comment. glad to hear from someone who knows about beef cheeks and loves them. i hope to have some more fun delicious nose to tail stuff coming your way...i was thinking i might attempt menudo...hmmmm...we''ll see

Joseph said...

very nice use of an undrer utililzed ingredient!!

Jules and Ruby said...

thanks delicious i wish more people would give cheeks a try.

Alice said...

I just picked some up from a Butcher here in Guatemala, They dont know what "Mexican Barbacoa" is down here, Im going to cook them up for my in-laws. Thanks for the recipe, I didnt want them to come out all bland and ruin such a tasty piece of meat!

Jules and Ruby said...

hi Alice...i hope you love this as much as i do. the meat is soooo tender after a good long cookin' i'd love to hear your report. thanks

aterrao said...

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Melanie G. said...

You have some fantastic food recipes on here. I made the cheeks and my husband loves them! I recently got some cabeza de res and I am using the same recipe at this moment to make it. Smells so good in my house. I can't wait to try the lengua next! Thanks again!

Jules and Ruby said...

Melanie G. are you talkin' the whole head? how adventurous of you. i hope it turns out delicious. i would love a report. you know i bet the tongue would be great using this recipe now that you mention it. thanks for the comment. hope to hear from you again.

Larissa Sergeyeva said...

Jules, this is a wonderful blog, thank you very much for your very diverse aspects of eating culture. I love to see when someone gets equally excited about chicken feet or a kombucha drink. I shall definitely try your beef cheek recipe. I live in Australia where our influence by Hispanic cuisine is somewhat limited but you gave me a plenty of ideas.
Kind regards, Larissa

Jules and Ruby said...

hi Larissa...thanks so much for the lovely comment. i hope you DO try these fabulous cheeks. i just pulled a serving out of the freezer yesterday and, boy was it delish! DOES freeze well. hope to hear from you again if you decide to give it a go....jules

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