Mexican Barbacoa and Traditional Mexican

The word “barbacoa” is Mexican in origin and refers to a whole animal or a cut of meat cooked slowly over an open fire. Traditionally a barbacoa referred to a fire pit dug into the ground but today it can mean any kind of barbecued or even steamed meat.

Slow-cooked cow head, or “barbacoa de cabeza” is a famous Mexican food in the north of the country. Most Mexican barbacoa recipes do not use marinades or sauces while the meat is cooking, although sometimes a sauce is added when the meat is ready.

In pre-Mexican times, fish, turkey, beans and game were cooked over open fire pits for many hours. The Spanish introduced sheep, goats, pigs, chickens and cattle, and these were cooked in the same way.

Barbacoa in the United States

A barbacoa is usually made with cow head parts, such as cheeks, in the United States. Goat meat is more common in northern Mexico and pork is popular in the Yucatan region. In central Mexico, lamb is the most popular choice for barbacoa.

Recipe for Beef Barbacoa

This is a South Texas style recipe, since a chuck roast is used rather than a cow head or cow cheeks. The combination of chili, oregano, garlic and black pepper enhances the flavor of the meat and the slow cooking makes the beef so tender it literally falls off the bone.

Transferring the beef from the hot oven into a paper grocery bag mimics the traditional barbacoa effect, in that steam and heat work together to make the beef tender and delicious.

You will need:

  • 3 lbs bone-in chuck roast
  • 1 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder

How to make it:

Combine the oregano, pepper, garlic, salt and chili powder and rub the mixture all over the chuck roast. Put some soaked wood chips close to the heating element of a water smoker, then put three quarts of boiling water in the water pan. Smoke the beef between 225 and 275 degrees F for four hours, checking the water level in the smoker halfway through the cooking time and topping it up if necessary.

The beef should have an internal temperature of between 160 and 170 degrees F when it is ready. Put the chuck roast in a baking pan and seal aluminum foil over the top. Bake it for an hour and forty five minutes at 325 degrees F, then take the foil-wrapped package out of the oven and put it in a big paper grocery bag or two overlapping medium ones.

Fold the bag over to make a seal, and then leave the beef in there for forty five minutes. Take the meat out of the roasting pan and shred it into small pieces. Serve with hot flour tortillas, salsa and guacamole.

Traditional Mexican Foods

Traditional Mexican foods are typically prepared by those who have a well stocked kitchen including all of the best tools needed to make the tasty meals the country is so well known for. In addition, although some of these tools are no longer commonly found in kitchens having been replaced by the more modern conveniences of today, they are still used by the many who want to lend an air of authenticity to the cooking process.

Traditionally, comals, or flat skillets, were made from clay but as modern stoves grew hotter, the clay became impractical. The comals of today are made of cast iron or steel and should be seasoned before using by baking in the oven after coating with bacon grease or lard. Some brands come already seasoned for the cook’s convenience.

Do not wash your comal with soap and water after using it to cook tortillas or toast peppers but instead, wipe with a clean cloth and carefully dry over a low flame.

The often used Mexican chocolate tool somewhat resembles a baby’s rattle and this wooden tool with its long handle is used like a whisk for whipping chocolates. A Tortilla press is another must have tool for Mexican cooking and it is used to press down or flatten balls of dough for making none other than corn or flour tortillas.

Tortilla presses are usually made of metal and can be found in different sizes.

Now that you have an idea as to some of the tools, you can use to make traditional Mexican foods why not try your hand at making a spicy, smoky beef stew from the Michoacan region of Mexico?

Smoky Michoacan Beef Stew Recipe

What You Need

  • 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 2 to 3 pounds beef stew meat, cubed
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 large white or yellow onions, chopped
  • 4 large tomatoes (about 1 pound), diced
  • 2 small to medium chipotle chilies, seeded and chopped
  • 6 cups beef stock
  • 1 can green beans

How to Make It

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour and seasonings and blend well. Add the cubes of stewing meat to the flour, toss, and coat well. Set the pieces of coated beef aside on a plate.

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat and add the coated pieces of beef. Brown each piece completely and set aside.

Reduce the heat to medium low and add the minced garlic and chopped onions. Cook until the garlic is soft and the onions have turned translucent in color.

Add the diced tomatoes, the chopped chilies, and the beef stock then cover and simmer over low heat for 1 to 1/2 hours or until the beef is cooked through and tender.

Add the green beans to the pot and cook for another 15 minutes.

Serve your hot Michoacan beef stew along with bowls of beans or rice.

Serves 4 to 6.

Enjoying Traditional Foods In Modern Times

Mexican cuisine has been evolving for centuries with influences that reach halfway around the globe that have also withstood the test of time. One of the most flavorful and recognizable in the entire world, Mexican foods consists of a few unique ingredients along with some of the most commonly used items in all types of cuisine.

Corn, rice, and beans are three of the most traditional as well as inexpensive ingredients used in Mexican cooking and they have remained an integral part of the entire Mexican food experience. These foods along with a variety of peppers and spices such as Mexican oregano and, of course, dried chilies combine to create some of the most aromatic dishes ever created such as carnitas.

Carnitas, which translates into “little meats” in Spanish, refers to pork meat that is browned, braised, or roasted and is a dish that has been enjoyed for many years. Carnitas dishes are well known and may vary by region throughout the large country of Mexico and the pieces of pork are often served along with refried beans, salsa, and tortillas.

Traditionally, carnitas were cooked only in copper pots over a low flame to ensure even heat distribution and cooking but you can use any kind of pot with a thick, solid bottom for making all of your carnitas recipes.

Cheddar Cheese Carnitas Recipe

What You Need

  • 3 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
  • 2-1/2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1inch pieces
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 fresh jalapeno peppers, seeded, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 4 tortillas, warmed
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup tomato, diced
  • 1/2 cup avocado, diced
  • 1/2 cup black olives, diced
  • Sour cream for serving

How to Make It

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Heat the olive or vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the 1 inch pieces of pork along with salt and pepper to taste until each piece is browned on all sides. After browning, place the pork in a casserole dish with a lid that fits securely.

Leave about 1 tablespoon of oil in the skillet before adding the onions and cooking over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until softened. Add the minced garlic and the finely chopped jalapenos to the skillet and cook for another 2 minutes.

Add the onions, garlic, and jalapenos to the casserole dish along with the chicken broth. Stir to mix well and add the lid.

Bake for 1-1/2 to 2 hours or until the pork is tender stirring the casserole only once during cooking. If the liquid cooks away before the pork is done, you can add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water to keep everything from burning.

Add the carnitas mixture to the warmed tortillas and serve along with toppings including shredded cheddar cheese, diced avocados, tomatoes, black olives, and a few dollops of sour cream or the toppings of your choice.

Vegetarian Traditional Foods

There are plenty of authentic Mexican food recipes, which would suit a vegetarian. Most of the Mexican food staples are vegetarian anyway, and that includes beans, tomatoes, chili peppers, and corn. Beans, vegetables, and cheese feature in a lot of traditional Mexican foods designed for non-carnivores and rice and tortillas are a tasty starch staple served with them.

You can convert a lot of beef or chicken recipes too, by using tofu or beans to replace the meat. There are a lot of appetizers, which are already meat-free, including nopalitos, molletes, and most salsa recipes.

Molletes are sandwiches and they can be savory or sweet. They are made with a bolillo, which is a crusty bun, which is stuffed and then broiled or baked. Sweet molletes are made with sugar, cinnamon, and butter. Savory ones contain cheese and beans. Nopalitos are cactus paddles, which are diced and added to appetizers or salads. Salsa is nearly always meat-free and it can be served with totopos, which are Mexican tortilla chips.

The Place of Meat in Mexican Food History

The indigenous people of Mexico had access to beans, corn, papayas, squash, avocados, sweet potatoes and cactus paddles but limited access to meat, although they did fish a lot (those in the coastal areas, at least) and eat wild turkeys.

Until the Spanish introduced pigs, sheep, goats and cattle to the indigenous people of Mexico, they did not have these animals. The Spanish also introduced black pepper, rice, wheat, cilantro, cheese, olive oil, and lettuce.

Modern meat-free Mexican food is widely available in Mexico although you will find it harder to find vegan food. This is because most meat-free Mexican food recipes include eggs, cream, or cheese. Burritos are usually filled with one ingredient only so you can choose one with beans, cheese, or rice. Tacos can be vegetarian, as can quesadillas and tamales.

Vegetarian pozole, gazpacho (a chilled soup), huevos rancheros, and chilaquiles are other options. Chilaquiles are made with corn tortillas soaked in a red or green sauce. They can contain chicken or fried eggs. Chiles rellenos, which are stuffed chili peppers, are served without meat during Lent. As you can see, there are plenty of easy Mexican recipes you could make if you do not eat meat or poultry.

Recipe for Mini Vegetarian Tortilla Quiches

This Mexican food recipe combines cheese, corn, onions and more and flour tortillas are used instead of pastry. These little snacks are perfect for lunch or supper and you can liven them up with as much hot sauce as you want.

Best Food

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To be sure about the food that you serve your family, you need to be particular with the things that you put in and the materials that you use. In your home, your traditions regarding cooking and keeping the kitchen may no longer be applicable to what is proper these days. You may want to revise certain practices if there is a need to do so.

It doesn’t matter if you are an experienced housewife or a learned chef, there might be some things that you have left out in terms of the way you handle your good cooking So, you need to be able to have an open mind about changing those things that need to be changed.

Begin with checking out the things that you have always used. There may be kitchen ware and equipment that can be replaced by newer products. Also, you need to make sure that you have complete kitchenware to allow for a better culinary experience. Some of the kitchen essentials will include various sizes and types of knives, saucepans, pepper mills, peelers, spatulas, and whisks.

Also, to be able to come up with nice looking and better tasting meals, you may want to try revolutionary ways of cooking. One way is through the help of clay cookware. You may even add a twist to the usual frying pans that you have. This is possible with Steelux premium frying pans. You may add depending on whether you perceive there is a need for more or not.

Another way that you can make your kitchen as easy and exciting as it is supposed to be is with the help of multi-purpose equipment. This will allow you to have a single appliance for several important functions in your kitchen.

The quality of the pots and the pans that you are using will matter. You can be sure that you will get better food quality and better cooking experience if they are made of high quality materials. You can avoid ingredients from sticking to the pans and thus prevent excessive cooking and burning. Uneven cooking is also common in low value pans and pots. The best materials that are also affordable in price are those that are made from copper, cast-iron, or aluminum.

If you are looking for a tip with regards cooking, one of the most important things that you should know is about the cooking oil that you use. Vegetable oil can be the healthier alternative. But, you may only reuse this type of oil if you can avoid it from getting burnt the last time you have cooked with it.

Thawing may not be the best alternative after all. Frozen food products are even more delicious when they are directly boiled even in a frozen state.

When you are cooking, to make sure that you have evenly cooked food, aside from the pots that you will be using, you will also need to keep an eye on the task at hand. This will also be the best step that you can take in order to prevent burning the food.