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!



Taco Sampler at Mission Cantina in Hollywood & The Museum of Death



All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2012

Typically – I’m not a big fan of Mexican restaurants.  I don’t eat meat & I find that pretty limiting with most Mexican menus.  The shrimp dishes can either be way too buttery or fatty or whatever – or downright funky.  Bay shrimp?  Who the fuck eats – if any other choice is available – BAY shrimp????  They sell them at Gel$on’$ and I am always tempted to wait there and watch & see who the these weirdos are that buy them – and then ask WHY.  Anyway – at Mexican restaurants, I tend to fill up on chips & beer (and the inevitable seafood tacos) & leave feeling vaguely cheated but stuffed to bursting.  If I’m gonna be forced to eat fish or shrimp tacos (because ordering a quesadilla in a restaurant is tantamount to ordering a PB&J sandwich) – I prefer to go to little taco stands that seem to deal with these things with more authenticity & flavor – and they don’t load you up with lard-based refried beans & rice – and they are usually very cheap.

So – the other day when my boyfriend requested a Mexican lunch – I had to give in & take him to a local restaurant – rather than one of the many far more colorful stands around Hollywood.  Why?  Because my guy likes his beer and those taco stands never serve alcohol.  OK, so fine.  A restaurant.  Mexican.  Open at noon.  NOT El Coyote – with the worst food on earth.  Not an icky Acapulco-type chain.  Hmmmm.

I settled on one that is very close to where I live, opened fairly early & had beer – the Mission Cantina.  There was one parking meter on the entire block – and it was available!  OK – that’s a good sign.  We stepped inside & it was bright & cheery – which I like – and we were the only ones in there.  We sat at the bar & ordered beers.


The beer was a Craftsman 1903 Ale – made right in Pasadena & it was awesome!  The bar is wide & welcoming & the bartender was super friendly.  There is outdoor seating – just as an FYI – but the interior is so pleasant – I recommend it highly.  Chips & a really great salsa were placed before us as we perused the menu.  There was a $12 taco sampler – so we chose to split that.  I got a fish taco & their verduras (veggie) taco.  Miles got the carne asada, carnitas & the highly recommended (by the bartender) – beef barbacoa.

When the tacos arrived, they were served with a selection of pickled things:




These tacos were clean & light & I suggest you try them.  If you really love tacos – try Mission Cantina’s Taco Tuesdays – with $1 tacos all the live-long day!!!  That is an awesome deal.

We left Mission Cantina satisfied but not needing the naps that are so often the case after eating exhausting Mexican meals – so we decided to drop into the nearby Museum of Death – just a few blocks away to kill some time.  🙂


Free parking in the rear…


There is a really spooky old trailer back there – no explanation.


Predictably, no photography is allowed in the Museum of Death.  The museum tour begins with a gallery of art created by famous serial killers as well as some background on the more famous ones (Ed Gein, Richard Ramirez, John Wayne Gacy – etc) & rare documents.  Then a few novelties – like a mummified head of guillotine victim (a convicted serial killer) – the crime scene & autopsy photos from the Manson-Tate murders, Victorian post-mortem dead baby portraits & generally just a lot of stuff you’ve probably seen (or seen similar) if you have had any kind of history of a fixation with the morbid (as I have).  Footage of an autopsy proved too gross to watch.

The most compelling collection in house was a series of photos depicting a nude wife holding her dead husband (killed at the hands of her boyfriend – also depicted but not nude, I don’t think) – and the progressive dismembering of said husband & then the loving portraits of his severed head with his severed foot in his mouth – and then with his severed hand putting his severed penis in his own mouth.  The photos are from the seventies – shot (hilariously to me) on a 110 camera.  I think only subject matter as unusual as a party-style mutilation could really distract you from the other novelties in the images – her vintage, 1970’s winter bush & tiny, seventies natural bud-like breasts.   Oh – and her wickedly smiling face as she poses – nude & squatted – with the castrated torso of her late husband.  It seems this naked butcher had a pal at a Fotomat or something but she didn’t realize that the developing & printing process involved more than one employee.  I’m not sure why she thought even her own mother would look at the developed photos & not turn her in – but the stranger involved in the photo processing did just that.  Thank heavens – or I never would have gotten to digest fish tacos looking up into the neck hole of a beheaded man.

As an aside – I worked at a little Fotomat-esque storefront in high school & routinely stole the embarrassing images from the stuff that came through.  The shop was near Boston College & I have a lot of nudes & images of men’s penises & mooning arses etc – all typically a result of the pyramids of empty beer cans college kids seem to enjoy building so much.  So – if you went to BC around 1981-83 – and had a tendency to nude up for the camera at keggers – I might have some things that would interest you.

The Holocaust got surprisingly little coverage – too obvious perhaps?  Overexposed?  Who knows?  I think it is a gross oversight because the Holocaust has more horror to offer than the combined elements of the entire rest of the museum.  But maybe that’s just me.  Anyway – Heaven’s Gate & Jim Jones get some exposure.  Jayne Mansfield’s dead & taxidermied chihuahua is in the collection along with a series of stuffed albino animals & some jarred animal “abominations” of the two-headed or 9-legged variety.

All in all – it was worth the $15 each, I’d say, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to anyone.  Mission Cantina & Taco Tuesdays, on the other hand – I recommend without reservation!