Friday, February 17, 2012

Beef Barbacoa Nachos

Barbacoa is tender slow-cooked beef, marinated in spicy and smoky flavor, and then shredded before serving.  It goes great in tacos, burritos, nachos, or just by itself.  This was the first time we made it, and let me tell you, it was wayyy better than the Chipotle version!  It is marinated over night and cooked for 3 1/2 hours in the oven before removing and shredding.   This barbacoa will definitely spice up your meal!  We made nachos this time, with cheese sauce and pickled onions to go on top.  Thanks to Serious Eats for the recipe :)

2-3 lbs beef brisket 
16-ounce can diced, fire-roasted tomatoes with juice 
½ cup dark or amber lager 
2 t ground cumin 
1 T dried ancho chile powder 
1 T unsweetened cocoa 
½ t dried Mexican oregano 
½ cup apple cider vinegar 
1 whole chipotle chile en adobo, chopped, plus 3 tablespoons adobo sauce, divided 
2 t sugar 
2 t kosher salt, divided 
½ t fresh-cracked black pepper 
2 bay leaves
For the Cheese Sauce 
4 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese (half of an 8-ounce block), shredded 
4 ounces Velveeta, cubed 
1 cup whole milk 
One T cornstarch 
For the pickled red onions 
1 teaspoon vegetable oil 
1 large red onion, halved and sliced 
½ cup cider vinegar 
¼ cup water 
½ t Mexican oregano 
½ t sugar

Combine tomatoes (with juice), lager, cumin, chile powder, cocoa, oregano, vinegar, chipotle chile and 2 tablespoons adobo sauce,  salt, and pepper in a blender and puree until smooth. Place brisket in a zip-lock bag, add marinade and seal bag tightly removing as much air as possible, and place in refrigerator to marinate overnight, turning occasionally.

The next day, adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position and preheat oven to 300°F. Place brisket and marinade in a Dutch oven, with the burner heated over medium heat.  Add bay leaves and bring to a bare simmer.
Cover, place in the oven, and cook until meat is fork-tender, about 3 1/2 hours. Remove meat from the cooking liquid, discard bay leaves and allow meat to cool before shredding into strands.   The meat should be very tender and easily pull apart.  If it still feels tough, continue cooking for 30 minutes at a time, checking in between.

Roughly chop into 1 1/2-inch pieces. Transfer to a small bowl, combine with 1 cup reserved cooking liquid. Taste and season with salt, if necessary. Set aside. 
From here, you can do whatever you want with the beef.  We made nachos, following recipe below.

Pickled Onions -
Heat vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over medium high heat until shimmering. Add onions and saut√©, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds. Remove from heat and add vinegar, water, oregano and sugar and season with half remaining ½ teaspoon salt. Allow to cool to room temperature before using.

For the Cheese Sauce:
Add the cheeses and cornstarch to a medium saucepan and stir to combine.  Add milk and remaining tablespoon of adobo sauce. Over low heat, whisk until cheese is melted and velvety, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

To make the nachos:
Spread tortilla chips over a large baking sheet.  Sprinkle toppings on the chips, such as beans, salsa, black olives or jalapenos.  Evenly distribute the barbacoa, (you will probably have enough for 2-3 trays)  Pour the cheese sauce on top and place in the oven for about 10 minutes.  Once they are out, add extra toppings such as sour cream and chopped cilantro.  Share these with a big group!

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