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.

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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!

 

Corned Beef for St. Patrick’s Day

Corned beef in crock pot and thinly sliced fresh brussel sprouts instead of cabbage.I was a day late getting it done (and several days late getting it posted!), but we finally had our corned beef. I found a recipe on Real Simple online that looked good. It uses thinly sliced Brussels sprouts instead of cabbage.

I got home at 11:30 from a trip to my parents house and immediately got to work. I figured I would need to cook it for about 7 hours on high in the slow cooker.

I used a 5 pound corned beef with seasonings from Costco, 2 beers, 6 whole carrots and about a pound of fresh Brussels sprouts.  Slicing the sprouts in the food process was genius! I plan to use that technique again stews and soups.  They cook incredibly quickly in the hot broth. I served it up family style on a big platter. It was a huge hit with our family that night. Even my picky kids ate the beef!

The recipe includes a sauce for the beef made of sour cream, fresh tarragon and whole grain mustard (I used regular Dijon). It’s a nice touch but not really necessary. The flavor of the beef and sprouts is so good, it gets overpowered by the sauce, in my opinion.

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.

 

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

Beef Stroganoff

I tried a new recipe for dinner and it was a big hit.  It was super easy using the slow cooker:

2-3 lbs. stew meat, cut into 1″ pieces
½ cup flour
2 tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground black pepper
½ tsp. coarse grind garlic powder
vegetable oil
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 pkg. dry onion soup mix
1 can sliced mushrooms
½ cup sour cream

Browning beef first adds great flavor.

In a resealable plastic bag combine flour, salt, pepper and garlic.  Shake well to mix.  Cut meat into small cubes.  Working in batches, add meat to the four bag and shake to coat.  Heat oil in a skillet. Add meat and brown on all sides.  Transfer browned meat to slow cooker.  Add one can cream of mushroom soup.  Sprinkle on onion soup mix.  Drain canned mushrooms and add to crock.  Stir and set slow cooker to low for 6-8 hours.  When cooking time is complete

Audrey was "helping" by stirring the beef.

stir in sour cream.  Allow a few minutes for the sour cream to heat.  Serve over egg noodles or rice.  Serves 4-6 people.

My notes: I used a London broil for the meat.  I trimmed the visible fat from the edge before cutting into cubes.  The garlic I use in all of my recipes is California Style Garlic Powder from McCormick.  It is a coarse grind and has dried parsley in it.  If you don’t have that I would recommend substituting ¼ tsp regular garlic powder.

Warning: this is salty!  When I make it next time I will be reducing the salt in the flour coating to only 1 tsp.  There is a lot of salt in both the mushroom soup and onion soup mix.

Sorry, no photos of the finished product – it was devoured by a hungry crowd!  But you all know what strogo looks like right? Good.

Yummy Pot Roast

I tried two new recipes for dinner tonight: a pot roast and a apple-cranberry pie.  Both turned out delicious!  I’m loving using my slow cooker for dinner.  It’s so nice to drop Sean off at preschool and come home throw together a dinner in the slow cooker and do a few chores before I pick him up.  It makes me feel like I have the rest of the afternoon free because dinner is already done!

pot roast in slow cooker

All set up and ready to cook!

Beef Pot Roast

1 medium onion, chopped in large pieces
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 ribs of celery, chopped
3 large red potatoes, cut into large chunks
3 lb beef roast
1 package (8 oz) of baby Portobello mushrooms
3/4 cup of water
1 tsp instant beef bouillon – I like “better than bouillon” paste
1 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp dried basil

Cut up the vegetables and place at the bottom of the cooker.  Season the roast with salt and pepper, then sear it in a pan with 2 tsp of oil until a brown crust forms.  Place the roast on top of the vegetables and pour in the rest of the ingredients.  Cook on medium for approximately 6 hours.