Orange Chipotle Beef “Barbacoa” Tacos for the Slow Cooker


All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.


OK – first of all – I put “barbacoa” in quotes because I cannot get a definitive explanation of the term.  Some loosely define it as the origin of the word “barbecue” and that the meat must be slow cooked over an open flame or buried with coals.  Other explanations involve what part of the cow the meat is from – and some even say it must include goat brains.  While I used none of this


and, frankly, can’t imagine eating that no matter WTF it tastes like – I used this


which was about 9 pounds of chuck roast that I got at the AWESOME Super King for $3 a pound!  I sure wish I ate meat because, if you know where to buy it, it is outrageously economical.

Anyway – I marinated the meat for two days, grilled it to a nice char on a barbecue & then slow cooked it overnight.  I served this at my Cinco de Mayo party.  I also served:

Grilled shrimp tacos



Yellow Rice

Hominy & Cauliflower Mac & Cheese



52 tacos (half potato & half jalapeno) from a place called House Of Tacos (because I had a Groupon)

My Chipotle Lime Roasted Potatoes

Every possible taco topping

And my friend Rose’s watermelon & feta salad



More food got sent home with people than was consumed all day.  Still – two things were repeatedly commented upon: this beef recipe & my Hominy & Cauliflower Mac & Cheese (which I will post at a later date).  My boyfriend Miles said that this beef might be his favorite thing I have ever made.  I cannot vouch for it because I do not eat meat but it fucking smelled incredible!  It isn’t a difficult recipe but it does take some planning ahead – what with two days (not really necessary) of marinating & an additional overnight in a slow cooker – plus grilling in between.  The grilling is critical, I think, for the smokiness it adds & because it cooks off a good amount of the yucky fat on the meat.  This recipe if for a large slow cooker quantity of meat (I cooked 9 lbs of chuck roast).  You can reduce the recipe or, once it is done, freeze a bunch for another time.  This meat might go nicely on a pizza or in a Mexican-style lasagna or on pasta.  Some folks were dumping queso on it which seemed to me to be very like a Mexican Philly cheese steak.  So – this meat would make a great sandwich, too.  Don’t be shy!  Experiment!



Orange Chipotle Beef “Barbacoa” Tacos


9 pounds of chuck roast or brisket

For the marinade

2 12oz cans orange juice concentrate

10 cloves garlic

1 12oz can chipotle peppers in adobo

1 TBS dry oregano

2 TBS cumin

For the slow cooker

1 12oz can orange juice concentrate

1 7oz can chipotle peppers in adobo – minced

1-2 bunches of fresh cilantro – minced

1 red onion – diced

6 cloves garlic – minced

1 TBS salt

juice & zest of 4 limes

6-8 cups stock

GARNISH – juice of 1/2 – 1 orange & 1 TBS chipotle powder (powder – not more peppers)

TACO ingredients – beyond the corn tortillas – the rest is a matter of taste.  Use any of the following: shredded lettuce, shredded red or green cabbage, chopped tomatoes, chopped red onion, chopped scallions, sliced radishes, shredded carrots, guacamole, salsa, grated cheese, canned green chilies, diced jalapeno, chopped cilantro, Mexican crema or sour cream & hot sauce.


For the marinade

Blend the marinade ingredients in a food processor.  Coat your meat & store in the fridge in some kind of Tupperware for as long as possible.  I marinated mine two days before grilling it & putting it in the slow cooker.


For the grill

I am no grill master.  I have an old Weber & just heated the coals until they were ready & flopped the marinated meat on the rack.  I grilled it, turning it often, until it was fairly black on the outside.  How cooked it is inside doesn’t matter.  You will cook the bejesus out of it in the slow cooker next.


For the slow cooker

Add the meat to your slow cooker.  Add all the slow cooker ingredients (which – minus the stock – you can puree in a food processor or blender) & cook on high for a solid 4-6 hours.  I then left mine on low overnight.


The next day, take the meat from the slow cooker and, in a bowl or on a cutting board or in the sink on a cutting board (that is what I did), shred the meat up with two forks or a knife & fork.  Toss any obvious chunks of fat (or feed them to your dog!).  When all the meat is shredded, pour the remaining juices out of the slow cooker (maybe through a colander to catch smaller bits of meat) and then return the wet beef to the slow cooker.  Squeeze the juice of 1/2 – 1 orange into the meat & add the chipotle powder.  Stir to blend.  Leave on warm – stirring occasionally – until ready to serve.  If it gets dry – just add a tiny bit of water or stock – but this shouldn’t be an issue.  Mine stayed moist all day.

Assemble tacos & devour!



2 thoughts on “Orange Chipotle Beef “Barbacoa” Tacos for the Slow Cooker

  1. I’m with Miles. This beef was amazing. I rarely take food home for leftovers, as you know, but I stockpiled this and the mac and cheese. 🙂


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