It was about 7 years ago exactly during a holiday party when a good friend brought this and It was gone in 15 min flat. I asked her how she made it and she then told me that her Father published and entire book of his family recipes to his daughters. He entitled it “A Daughters Guide To The Kitchen by Dimitri Criona”. Wow, how utterly amazing is that for a legacy to leave to your children!?
It was his inspiration along with a few others that led me to start this blog. I wanted to leave a legacy of not only our families recipes, but our memories as my Aunt did for her daughter. Anyway, back to the Barbacoa… this is a TO DIE FOR dish. It can be used in so many ways, Tacos, Burritos, enchiladas, machaka. I usually just make tacos. It’s what my family likes but I have made this for all the big Pot-Luck get-togethers around the holidays and people BEG me for the recipe. I really wish I could take the credit, but I can’t. Today I made it for a neighbor that just had a new baby. I get so much enjoyment out of nurturing people through food and hopefully they enjoy it. Of course I made a double batch so my family could enjoy, too!
Here is the EXACT excerpt from his cookbook, again what an amazing Dad! Please keep in mind that it took me a good 5-10 times making this before I perfected it. So much of it is to taste and I usually just use a large 15-25 quart sauce pan (do not use non-stick otherwise you’ll never get the roast browned properly) instead of the electric fry pan (’cause I don’t have one).
Here’s How Dimitri Does it:
MEXICAN POT ROAST (ROPA VIEJA: OLD CLOTHES, MECHAKA, SHREDDED BEEF or as Anji calls it Barbacoa)
Many of the Latin American cultures have shredded beef. There are several reasons. The most important of which is that tender corn feed beef is a modern invention. Most of the beef that the peasants ate was tough. I mean tough! Therefore in this dish you want to use a nasty stringy cut of cheap beef. A chuck roast or 7 bone roast will do nicely. In the past, whenever the chuck or 7 bone roasts went on sale, I would buy 2 or 3 and put them in the freezer. That’s another story.
Take an electric fry pan with a high dome lid and put about 1 cup of shortening or vegetable oil in the bottom. Turn up the heat to 350. When the oil begins to smoke, throw in a large 3 to 4 pound 7 bone or chuck roast. Let it brown. While the first side is frying, rough cut 2 medium onions, 2 to 3 cloves of garlic, and several fresh green chili pods, or reconstitute 4 dried medium hot to mild chilis in hot water. Turn the roast over and brown on the second side.
When the second side is browned, add several cloves of garlic, the onions, the chilis and a largecan of Mexican red chili or enchilada sauce. Reduce the heat to a rapid simmer, cover, close the vent in the lid and cook for at least 2 hours until somewhat tender. Occasionally you will have to add more liquid. Oops, don’t forget the salt and pepper! After about an hour or so, the roast will begin to naturally separate into sections. It’s OK to help this process along with a sharp knife by cutting the roast into sections. When the meat is somewhat tender remove the meat and put it onto a cutting board leaving the liquid and vegetables to reduce in the fry pan. Either cut the roast into sections or wide slices with a sharp knife. Take 2 forks and begin shredding the meat into uneven sections. If the meat is too tough to shred it needs more cooking. At this point if the four extra people around the house want to stay for dinner because of the smell from the kitchen, quickly sauté 4 medium diced onions and 2 more chilis and throw them into the liquid.
As you finish shredding the beef, put it back into the fry pan and continue to cook. You may want to throw away the fat from the beef, that’s OK but the original recipe doesn’t. Taste the liquid and adjust the salt and pepper and the hot by adding add either cayenne pepper, Tabasco or fresh diced jalapeno’s, and some Mexican (Italian) oregano, a bay leaf and some cumin. If you do not have the above you can substitute some dry chili powder, it is also very rich in cumin. Continue to cook at a high heat with the lid removed until most or all of the liquid has evaporated and the meat begins to fry and crisp slightly. That’s it! Get the tortillas, salsa, cheese, guacamole and sour cream and you’re ready for a Mexican feast of enchiladas, burritos, tacos or tostadas. Use the same method with a pork roast to make carnitas.