If you haven't yet pulled out your crockpot, it's that time of year again. Or maybe you never put it away. I use my slow cooker year-round, and since last May, I've been experimenting with recipes for slow-cooker pork carnitas. I haven't been able to find one to beat the carnitas I cook for hours on my stovetop, then brown and finish in the oven.

But in my search for a good slow-cooker carnitas, I found the perfect recipe for beef barbacoa — another of my favorite Mexican foods. The slow cooker does an excellent job of bringing a tough piece of beef to fork tenderness. And that's what you want with barbacoa.

Barbacoa is a traditional Mexican dish, which at some point in time transformed into "barbecue" when barbacoa jumped the border into Texas. What sets this apart from American 'cue are the chipotle peppers and adobo sauce, both of which add a little heat and smokiness to the meat. If you don't like a little spice, you can make this recipe without the chipotle peppers, but the result will taste more like good old Southern barbecue. In fact, I had some left over and served it on buns with a little barbecue sauce and coleslaw. So two meals in one — first Mexican, then Southern.


Slow Cooker Barbacoa

1 beef rump or bottom round roast (3 pounds)

1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro, optional

1/3 cup tomato paste

8 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons chipotle peppers in adobo sauce plus 1 tablespoon sauce, or to taste

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

4 teaspoons ground cumin

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon pepper

1 cup beef stock

1 cup beer (or more beef stock)

16 corn tortillas (6 inches)


Optional toppings: Lime wedges, avocado slices, sour cream and additional cilantro

Cut roast in half. Mix together cilantro (if using), tomato paste, garlic, chipotle peppers and sauce, vinegar, cumin, brown sugar, salt and pepper; rub over roast. Place in slow cooker. Add stock and beer. Cook, covered, until meat is tender, 8-10 hours.

Remove roast; shred with 2 forks. Reserve 3 cups cooking juices; discard remaining juices. Skim fat from reserved juices. Return beef and reserved juices to slow cooker; heat through. Taste and add salt, if needed.

Serve with tortillas and salsa. If desired, serve with lime wedges, avocado, sour cream and additional cilantro. Makes 8 servings, two tacos per serving.

Email Anne Braly at