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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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!

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.

Minestrone Soup – Slow Cooker

I hosted a small birthday lunch this weekend for my daughter who was turning two.  The weather here is turning cold and rainy so the usual backyard barbecue was not going to be an option.  Rain makes me think of soup, so I decided to make a few soups and serve small sandwiches with that.  The party was a big success and the food was tasty!

I made chili, a chicken & bean soup and minestrone.  I’d never made it before, so it was a gamble, but turned out delish!  I set it up in the slow cooker the night before the party:

4 cups beef broth (I like to use Better Than Bullion and mix it up as needed)
1 large can (28 oz.) of crushed tomatoes
2 carrots, diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
2 potatoes, cubed
2 small zucchini, cubed
1 can (16 oz) garbanzo beans (aka chick peas), drained and rinsed
1 can (16 oz) red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 tsp of crushed garlic
2 TBSP of parsley flakes
2 tsp of dried basil
1 tsp of dried oregano
1 bay leaf
4 oz of pasta
3 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
Fresh parmesan cheese for garnish (optional)

Combine all ingredients except pasta in the slow cooker and set on low overnight or high for 4-5 hours.  Add the pasta about 30 minutes before serving.  Garnish with some shredded parmesan cheese.

Be careful not to add too much pasta (or add it too early) or your soup will have mushy noodles.  Also, pull out the bay leaf before dishing it up.  No one wants a piece of tree in their bowl of soup!

Slowcooker Split Pea Soup

The weather finally started to turn cooler last week so I decided to pull out the crock pot and make soup!

2 TBSP Butter
1 cup minced onion
1/2 cup finely minced celery
1 cup diced carrots
7 C. water
1 lb. dried green split peas
1 pork hock
4 whole cloves
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/8 tsp. marjoram
1 TBSP salt

Put it all in the crock pot and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours.  Pull the ham bone out about 20 minutes before serving and shed the meat.  Put the meat back in the pot and toss the bone and fat.  Serve with crusty bread and butter!