Barbacoa Tacos

Traditional Mexican barbacoa (“barbecue”) usually involves lamb or goat, but this recipe calls for beef chuck roast. It is a labor of love, but after slow roasting in the oven for six hours, you won’t really care what’s in it, you’ll just know that it is delicious.

Serves: 8Hands-on: 1 hourTotal: 11 hoursDifficulty: Medium

Serves: 8


  • 4 dried guajillo chilies
  • 2 tsp. whole cumin seeds
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1⁄2 tsp. ancho chili powder
  • 1 large onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. ground thyme
  • 1⁄3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp. lime juice
  • 1 boneless beef chuck roast (6 lbs.)
  • 16 small flour tortillas, warmed
  • 1 cup crumbled queso fresco
  • 1⁄3 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 Serrano chili, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 small lime, cut into wedges


  • Lightly toast the guajillos in a comal or cast iron skillet until they puff up slightly, about 5 minutes. Remove and set them aside to cool.
  • In the same skillet, toast the cumin seeds and cloves until they are fragrant and seeds begin to pop. Remove and set aside.
  • When the chilies are cool enough to handle, remove the stems, seeds, and ribs. Place in a bowl, cover with boiling water, and let the chilies soak until soft, at least 15 minutes.
  • Grind the toasted cumin and cloves in spice or coffee grinder and put in a blender. Add chili powder, onion, garlic, oregano, thyme, vinegar, and lime juice. Add the guajillo chilies, along with 1⁄4 cup of the soaking liquid. Blend into a smooth paste.
  • Rinse the beef roast and pat dry. Place in a large mixing bowl and pour the guajillo paste over it. Using your hands, spread the paste on all sides of the roast. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator to marinate at least 2 hours. (The longer you let it marinate, the better. If you have time, let it sit overnight.)
  • Take the roast out of the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature. Preheat an oven to 325°F.
  • Put the roast in a roasting pan and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake the roast in the oven until the meat is fall-apart tender, about 6 hours.
  • When roast is done, take it out of the oven and let it stand, covered, at room temperature for about 1 hour before shredding the meat with a fork.
  • Serve the meat, with its juices, as tacos. Top with queso fresco, cilantro leaves, and sliced chili pepper. Serve with lime wedges.