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Beef barbacoa tacos May 6, 2012

Posted by inspiredbywolfe in Beef.

Here’s something else I made before we moved – beef cheek tacos. Naturally when I bought the beef cheek I had no plans for a specific recipe, but after looking around online for a bit, tacos sounded like a nice idea. Tacos (and Mexican food in general) are very popular at the moment, and it seems that new Mexican restaurants or food trucks are popping up every week. I’d like to say that I’m tapping into Melbourne’s culinary zeitgeist , but really, I liked the idea of slow cooking the beef cheeks, and wanted to try out my new tortilla press.

I followed the Homesick Texan’s recipe for lamb barbacoa, at least in relation to the marinade/sauce. I started by toasting both ancho and guajillo chiles in a skillet, before soaking them in water until they were soft. I added garlic, some coffee, cumin oregano and the chiles to a blender and pureed everything together.

From here, I deviated from the recipe and browned the beef cheek, still whole, until it had a nice crust. I then added the chile mix and some chopped onions, as well as a bit more water, before letting it boil.

After it had boiled, I put it in the oven on a low temperature for a couple of hours so it could get tender. In the meantime, I made the tortillas. I used corn flour (masa harina) and water to mix up a dough, then was very excited to be able to use my tortilla press to make perfectly flat, round tortillas.

Not surprisingly, using a tortilla press was a lot easier than trying to roll them out or flatten them with other implements. The lack of gluten in this flour makes it hard to manipulate – it tends to break and shear off, and does not stretch at all. Having said that, the masa harina does make very tasty tortillas!

Once the meat was ready, and could be pulled apart with forks, I cooked the tortillas in a small frying pan. They only took a couple of minutes per side, and I toasted them until they were soft and pliable. Then all that was left to do was assemble the tacos for eating.

I put some of the beef and the sauce on the tortilla, and squeezed some lime juice over to add some brightness. I sprinkled a mixture of basil and coriander over the beef, and served it with a simple salad.

A very nice use of beef cheek, regardless of if Mexican food is popular or not. The beef was soft and tender, and still spicy and tasty from the chile/garlic mix. This was in some ways a farewell to our old living location and I was very glad to be seeing it off in style, since many great meals had been prepared there.


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