Slow Cooker Beef Barbacoa

My husband had some great beef barbacoa while traveling for work and requested that I try to make it at home. I’m always up for a cooking challenge, but not having tasted this dish before I wasn’t sure what I was making or how it was supposed to taste.

I searched the internet and read MANY barbacoa recipes. What I found was that beef barbacoa looked a lot like pulled pork (something I’ve made for years), and all the recipes had a few things in common: slow cooked, shredded beef; chilies (usually chipoltle chilies in adobo); onions; and acids like vinegar or lime juice. I’m a big fan of slow cookers so I decided to use my 6 Quart Crock Pot for this dish.

Yield: 8-10 servings for adults

Ingredients:

4-5 lbs of beef chuck roast (I used two 2.5 lb roasts)

1 cup beef stock

1/2 yellow or white onion, rough chopped

5 whole garlic cloves

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

2 TBSP fresh lime juice (2-3 limes)

4-5 chipoltle chilies in adobo sauce, plus extra sauce from the can

4 tsp cumin

2 tsp oregano

1/2 tsp allspice

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1 tsp salt

1 tsp ground black pepper

1 small can tomato paste

Directions:

  1. Place beef roast(s) and stock in the slow cooker.
  2. Add remaining ingredients (except tomato paste) to a blender and puree until ingredients are finely chopped.
  3. Pour sauce over roast and cook for 6 hours on high or 8-10 hours on low.
  4. Leave slow cooker on high, remove meat from liquid and shred, removing any excess fat. Return meat to crock pot, add tomato paste and mix well. Allow to heat through and thicken, about 15 minutes.
  5. Serve warm in tacos or burritos.

Tips:

  • If using more than one roast you may need to cut them to fit the slow cooker better.
  • Slow cooker sizes and temperatures vary. Check the slow cooker towards the end of cooking time. The goal is for the meat to be shredded, but not mush. Nobody wants meat paste tacos!
  • Canned chipoltle chilies vary in heat. After making the sauce in the blender taste it before adding to the meat. If you like it hotter add more; if you like mild, start with only 3 chilies.
  • This is a very flavorful meat with a spicy, tangy sauce. Simple taco toppings which compliment the flavor include chopped onion, sour cream, fresh cilantro or chopped cabbage.
  • My Corn and Jalapeno Saute makes a great side dish for this meal.
beef barbacoa sauce

Taste the sauce before adding it to the beef. You can add more chipoltle chilies if you like it hotter!

slow cooker beef barbacoa

Beef is finished cooking. I like to remove the excess fat while shredding it, then return to the pot.

canning apple butter jam

Easy Slow-Cooker Apple Butter

apple butter jam on toast

If making jam intimidates you try this easy slow-cooker method for apple butter. It would be very difficult to mess this up! It only takes a few ingredients and some time. This recipe is based on one I found on Money Saving Mom. The original blog post has super cute printable labels too!

Ingredients

6-8 pounds of apples, peeled, cored and sliced

2-3 TBSP pure vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups raw sugar or brown sugar (I used a combination of 1 cup raw and 1/2 cup brown)

4 TBSP ground cinnamon

1- 1 1/2 tsp ground cloves

Directions

1.  Peel, core and slice your apples. This is the hard part, unless you have one of these nifty machines. Mine is from Pampered Chef, but other companies make similar Apple Peelers.

apple peeler slicer Pampered Chef type

This is a specialized kitchen tool, but so great if you like making apple pies or jam!

2. Place the apples and vanilla in the slow cooker on low.

peeled sliced apples

Filling up the crock pot. See how nice and evenly sliced the apples are! Using the slicer made it go fast, even with my 4-year-old helping.

3. Cook for 5-6 hours or until the apples are soft.
4. Blend apples with a stick blender
5. Add sugar, cinnamon and cloves. Stir well and cook for an additional 5-6 hours on low.

apple butter jam in slow cooker crock pot

This is the first batch finished and ready for canning. The house smelled AMAZING!

Tips

  • I have a seven-quart Crock Pot (an extra big one) and used about six pounds of apples for my first batch of jam. I realized that I could safely use more the second time since they cook down so much.
  • When using the larger amount of apples I used the higher amounts of spices listed above (3 TBSP vanilla, 4 TBSP cinnamon and 1 1/2 tsp of cloves).
  • I also switched from the thick to the thin slice handle on my apple machine. I was able to really pack them in on the second batch!
  • I cooked my second batch on high, so I added 1/2 cup of water to the apples when starting them cooking to prevent any sticking or burning in the bottom of the cooker. I cooked to apples for 4 hours, added sugar & spices and cooked 2-3 hours.
  • I canned mine. I got 6 half-pints out of the first batch, and 8 half-pints out of the second batch.  If you don’t want to can it, just place in air-tight containers and keep refrigerated.
canning apple butter jam

Finished jam canned and ready to give away for Christmas. I think I need to make a few more batches — we’ve already eaten a couple pints ourselves!

 

Russian Chicken – Crock Pot Version

Russian Chicken is a big hit with us. It was served at our wedding rehearsal dinner and more recently it was the subject of my first article on BlogCritics.org.

Today it was my turn to make dinner for a friend who just had a baby.  I decided I would make the family Russian Chicken, and some for us too. But the timing was going to be off if I put both dishes in the oven early.  I quickly came up with a solution using my trusty Crock Pot.

I prepared the dinner for delivery in the usual way – baked in the oven.  Knowing that I would be away from the house for an hour or more to make the delivery, I set up our chicken in the crock pot.  I had to guess on the time and temperature, so I  placed it on high and set the timer for three hours, just to be safe.  The total cooking time was just 2½ hours. It was just as good as the usual method, perhaps even better.

Ingredients:

4-6 whole boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 cup Wishbone Russian salad dressing

1 cup apricot preserves

1 package onion soup mix

Directions:

Mix dressing, jam and soup mix in a small bowl.  Place chicken pieces in the crock pot. Cover with sauce and cook on high setting for 2-3 hours.  Serve with steamed rice and salad or vegetable. It was great to be able to leave the house with dinner safely cooking. Crock-Pot to the rescue once again!

 

Pear Honey Jam

PEAR HONEY!

My mom and my paternal grandmother made pear honey when I was a child.  It was among my favorite home-made jams.  Plum jam being the other.  Browsing the grocery store ads last week I saw that our local SaveMart had Bartlett pears on sale for $0.29 per pound. I could not pass up such a great deal on one of my family’s favorite fruits.  I bought 8 pounds (about 24 pears) with the idea of making pear honey.

I browsed several websites looking for a good slow cooker pear honey recipe.  Many of them had orange juice or peel, others had cinnamon, and another included star anise (it was a pear butter recipe).  I finally came across one that seemed close.  It was on Mommy’s Kitchen and was from a Paula Dean cookbook.  It consisted of four ingredients: pears, sugar, crushed pineapple and lemon juice.

Now I was on the right track.  I didn’t follow her recipes exactly, I tweaked it to meet my own tastes.  For example, the original recipe called for 10 cups of sugar! Yikes, that’s too much, even for me.  Here’s what you need:

  • Fresh pears, 8 lbs or 20 medium size. They should be ripe.
  • Sugar, 5 cups
  • Crushed Pineapple in juice, one can
  • Lemon juice, 1 TBSP
Directions:
  1. Wash, peel, core and dice up pears

    Beautiful Bartlett Pears!

  2. Add the diced pears to the crock pot.
  3. Pour the crushed pineapple into the crock pot
  4. Add the lemon juice; stir it well.

    Everything into the pot!

  5. Set on LOW for 8-10 hours.

    It will turn a golden brown color as it cooks--the color of honey.

  6. Puree using an immersion blender.  If you don’t have one, puree pears in a blender before adding to the crock pot.

    My very handy immersion blender!

  7. When finished ladle into canning jars to process.*
The result was delicious. It tastes very much like the jam I remember.  The 5 cups of sugar were plenty.  In fact, I might be able to cut it down to 3-4 the next time I make it.

Sweeter than honey!

*My yield was 5 pints. I don’t have any canning jars so I put my jam into Ziploc pints with the screw-top lid.  I put one in the freezer, and the rest in the fridge.  I plan to give a pint to my parents, my in-laws and the other two we will use up in no time, I’m sure.  If I had the right supplies for canning it would have been easy to do.

Yield was 5 pints. (16 oz Zip-Lock containers)

Using the crock pot made it so simple.  I was able to set it up and go on with my day. This evening I ladled the sweet golden jam into containers.  I made baking powder biscuits in the morning so we could try out the new jam!

Chile Verde Pork

I bought a beautiful large (5 lb) boneless port shoulder roast a few weeks ago.  It was on sale so I grabbed it and threw it in the freezer, not knowing what I would make with it. I took it out of the freezer four days ago to defrost.

This morning I finally decided to make chile verde.  I’d never made it before, but that didn’t stop me from trying.  In fact, I’ve become more adventurous with my cooking lately, trying lots of new recipes and creating some of my own for the first time.

I browsed several recipes online to get some ideas of how to make the green sauce. This is what I came up with, which is an adaptation of Chile Verde on Simply Recipes.

5 lb. Boneless Pork Shoulder (pork butt roast)

12 tomatillos

1-2 Anaheim chilies, or jalapenos

3 TBSP fresh cilantro

2 TBSP Olive oil

Salt & pepper

1 small onion, chopped

1 TBSP minced garlic

Directions:

  1. Remove husks from tomatillos. Slice in half crosswise and place on a baking sheet, cut side down.  Roast under the broiler for up to 10 minutes, as long as necessary for them to start turning brown.

    Roasted Tomatillos

  2. While the tomatillos are broiling, roast Anaheim chilies over an open flame. Place roasted chilies in a plastic bag and seal.  After a few minutes the blackened skin will peel off easily.  Remove stem and seeds.
  3. Place tomatillos, chilies and cilantro in the blender.  Pulse a few times to blend the ingredients into a sauce.

    Blended Green Sauce

  4. Cut pork into 1-2 inch pieces. Remove excess fat when possible.
  5. Heat olive oil in a large skillet and brown pork in batches.  Season the meat with salt and pepper.

    Browning Adds Flavor

  6. Place cooked pork in crock pot. Pour in green sauce.
  7. Saute the chopped onion and garlic in the pan used to brown the pork.

    Saute Onion & Garlic

  8. Add sautéed onion and garlic to the crock pot.

    Place meat, sauce & veggies in cooker.

  9. Add 1 cup of water. Stir and set to on LOW for 7-8 hours.

This recipe will make a large batch-serves 8 or more people.  I used a 7 quart slow cooker for this large amount of meat.  To fewer servings use less meat – about 3 lbs and omit decrease water to 1/2 cup.  

Serve with warm tortillas, sour cream, guacamole and Mexican rice.

 

Beef Stroganoff – WITHOUT the Canned Soup

Everything into the pot!

I bought a nice beef pot roast at Costco yesterday to make beef stroganoff in my crock pot. Since I’m doing an all scratch cooking diet, that means no onion soup mix or canned cream of mushroom soup.

I looked up a few recipes online, but most had canned cream soups.  So I decided to wing it and make up my own.

Here’s what I did:

  1. Mix flour with a little salt and pepper in a gallon size zip-lock bag
  2. Cut the beef into cubes
  3. Dredge the beef in the flour and brown in a skillet with olive oil

    Sean wouldn't eat his. Luckily that meant I got a photo of the finished product.

  4. Place the beef in the crock pot
  5. Brown up sliced onion and mushrooms in the leftover drippings
  6. Add the veggies to the crock pot
  7. Add 1/2 cup of hot water mixed with 2 tsp of beef bouillon paste (Better Than Bouillon brand)
  8. Set the cooker to low for six hours.
  9. When it’s time to serve dinner, boil some wide egg noodles.
  10. Stir in 1/2 cup of sour cream to the beef just before serving.

It was creamy and good, and not too salty since there was no mushroom soup mix.  You can always add more salt at the table – that’s my philosophy.

My New Crock Pot

Isn’t it great? My mom got me a new crock pot for my birthday! I cracked the insert for my nine-year-old cooker I received as a wedding gift.  I tried going online to order a replacement insert but unfortunately they don’t make the kind I had anymore.

I can’t wait to get something cooking in there.  It’s an extra big cooker – a 7 quart which will be great for making large batches of soups and stews.  It also came with the cute little pot on the left – for serving hot dips. I checked my bread pans, and one will fit inside so I may even try making some bread with it.

On my “to cook” list:

  • French Onion Soup
  • Beef Stroganoff
  • Chili
  • Apple Butter