Beef cheek barbacoa tacos

Taco Tuesday: Beef barbacoa tacos

Traditionally barbacoa is steamed or baked in an underground pit for many hours until it is soft, succulent, and delicious. That’s not really practical for most people, runners or not! This recipe is actually pretty fast if you use a pressure cooker or Instant Pot and still comes out succulent and very tasty. It can also be done with plain old braising but will end up taking 3-4 hours that way. So this is the pressure cooker version.

As well, I’ve used beef cheeks — in part because I had them in the freezer but also because they taste great. Cubed up beef chuck or even brisket would work here as well though and might be easier to find in the stores.

Yield 4-6 servings


2 beef cheeks/ 1.5 kg beef chuck
1 onion, finely sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 cups of beef stock
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 tsp dried Mexican oregano
1 tsp ground cumin
2 bay leaves
1 dried chipotle chile/ 1 chipotle in adobe sauce
8-10 mushrooms, finely sliced
2 tbsp oil
Salt and pepper to taste
8-10 corn tortillas


Brown your meat in oil either by using the saute setting on your Instant Pot or in the bottom of your pressure cooker on a med-high heat. Once it’s browned on all sides, remove and put aside.

Sautee the onions for about 5 minutes, then add the garlic and sautee for another minute or so.

Return the meat to the pot, add the stock, tomato paste, mushrooms, herbs and chipotle chile. With the Instant Pot, cover and set to pressure cook for 40 minutes. If using a regular pressure cooker, put the lid in place, bring to pressure, then lower the heat and cook for 40 minutes.

Once the 40 minutes is up, let the pot naturally depressurize and when safe, open it up and shred the meat with a couple of forks. Check the seasonings.

The meat will have quite a lot of liquid/gravy, which is not great for taco making so simply use tongs and grab the meat you’d like for the taco. You can also eat this over rice, at which point you’ll want to use up some of that lovely gravy to pour over the rice.

Serve with some sliced avocado/guacamole and chopped tomato or salsa. A little squeeze of lime also brightens them up.

Buen provecho.

I run for tacos



And if you don’t have one yet, now’s a good time to pick up an ‘I run for Tacos’ bamboo-blend running shirt as well. Get one in the shop now.



© 2018 Gail J Cohen

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