Spicy, Small Batch Barbacoa with Wine Pairings!
Slow cooker barbacoa is a solid recipe to keep in your back pocket. This small batch version uses only 1.5 pounds of beef, and makes the perfect amount for a smaller household!
What is Barbacoa?
Barbacoa is the word from which “barbecue” was born. It’s basically a traditional Mexican cooking method, where meat is slow cooked (usually underground) until incredibly tender and delicious. Since we don’t have a hole in the ground to cook our barbacoa, we are going to do it in the slow cooker. 🙂
What’s in this Small Batch Barbacoa?
There is SO. MUCH. FLAVOR. in this barbacoa. For this recipe, we use red bell peppers, garlic, onions, spices, beer, a little orange juice, tomato paste, beef broth, and chipotles in adobo. Note: chipotles in adobo can be HOT. Taste a tiny bit of the adobo sauce first, then proceed with caution if necessary. There’s nothing worse than waiting eight hours for your barbacoa to cook, only to discover that it’s too spicy.
Ingredients for Small Batch Barbacoa:
- Boneless Chuck Roast
- Salt & Pepper
- Olive Oil
- Red Pepper
- Yellow Onion
- Cumin, Oregano, Ancho Chili Powder (or regular chili powder!)
- Tomato Paste
- a Chipotle in Adobo Sauce
- Beef Broth
- Fresh Orange Juice
- Apple Cider Vinegar
How to Make Barbacoa in the Slow Cooker:
The only “cooking” required for this recipe is browning the meat in olive oil, then mixing all of the other ingredients together. After that, the slow cooker takes over for eight hours and creates this gloriously tender spicy beef. In short, here’s how you make it!
- Season the chuck roast generously with salt and pepper. Let it rest on a plate (at room temperature) while you prepare the other ingredients.
- Turn a small slow cooker (I use a 2 quart sized crockpot) to the “low” setting.
- Warm a large skillet over medium heat, and add oil. Brown the chuck roast on all sides, about 3-4 minutes per side, until browned and crispy. Transfer it to the warm slow cooker.
- In the same skillet, cook the red pepper and onion with a pinch of salt for about 5-7 minutes until tender.
- Stir in the minced garlic and seasonings, cook 1-2 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and the chipotle in adobo sauce. Stir everything together really well, and cook another 2 minutes.
- Pour in the beef broth, beer, orange juice, and apple cider vinegar. Stir to combine everything again, and bring the pot to a simmer. Simmer for five minutes.
- Carefully pour everything into the slow cooker. Put the lid on the slow cooker, and cook on “low” for about eight hours, or until the beef shreds apart easily with a fork.
- Shred the beef directly in the slow cooker, and turn the setting to “warm”. Let the beef soak up any additional flavor for about 15-20 minutes.
- For barbacoa tacos, serve in warm tortillas with fresh pico de gallo, guacamole, or roasted corn! Also use in quesadillas (like this chicken fajita quesadilla, just substitute the chicken with barbacoa), or on nachos, or on a taco salad!
If you’re hesitant about the heat, feel free to only add half of a chipotle into the mix. The adobo flavor is really, really delicious, so we can’t leave it out entirely. But lessening the amount should make this much milder. 🙂
Wine Pairings for Barbacoa
:: Beaujolais. (France) >> Beaujolais is light and fruity, kind of like Pinot Noir. It’s lower in alcohol, and very food friendly. For a spicy dish like barbacoa, Beajolais is a great option that won’t fight with the flavors of the spicy beef. The fruity lightness will compliment the beef well!
:: Carménère. (Chile) >> One of my favorite red varietals! Carménère has a lot of red fruit notes, alongside some green pepper notes. With the peppers used in the barbacoa, and the juiciness from the red fruit notes, Carménère makes a great companion for barbacoa.
:: Cava. (Spain) >> Curveball! Sparkling wine with spicy meat is actually a thing. Cava comes from Spain, and is eerily similar to Champagne. (But waaaaay more affordable). Cava is high in acidity, which makes it ideal for pairing with food. The spiciness of the barbacoa gets to run directly into the fun, acidic bubbles of Cava, which translates to a party in your mouth.
Fun margaritas to make with Slow Cooker Barbacoa:
- Blueberry Cilantro Margaritas
- Grilled Pineapple + Jalapeno Margaritas
- Blackberry Margaritas
- Skinny Margaritas
- Spicy Serrano + Grapefruit Margaritas
Other Recipes to Eat with Barbacoa:
- Homemade Pico de Gallo with Garlic
- Homemade Fresh Guacamole
- Queso Fundido with Chorizo
- Creamy Canned Refried Black Beans
- Spicy Smashed Black Beans
slow cooker small batch barbacoa
- 1 - 1.5 pounds boneless chuck roast
- kosher salt + freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 Tbsp. oil canola, vegetable, grapeseed, or avocado
- 1/2 cup red pepper, chopped
- 1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic smashed
- 1/2 tsp. cumin
- 1/2 tsp. oregano
- 1/2 tsp. ancho chili powder or regular chili powder
- 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
- 1 chipotle in adobo, finely chopped + 1 teaspoon of the adobo sauce
- 1/3 cup beef broth
- 1/3 cup beer light or dark
- 2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- Season the chuck roast generously with salt and pepper. Set on a plate at room temperature as you prepare the other ingredients, upwards of 30 minutes.
- Turn a small crockpot to "low" heat.
- Heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Brown the chuck roast on all sides, creating a crispy crust on the exterior. (About 2-3 minutes per side).
- Transfer the browned chuck roast to the crockpot.
- In the same pan used to cook the chuck roast, add chopped red pepper, onion, and a pinch of salt. Stir to coat the chopped vegetables in the remaining olive oil, and scrape up any browned bits leftover from the chuck roast. Cook 5-7 minutes until tender.
- Stir in garlic and seasonings. Cook another 1-2 minutes, then stir in tomato paste and chopped chipotle with adobo sauce. Mix everything well.
- Stir in beef broth, beer, orange juice, and apple cider vinegar. Bring pan to a simmer, and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Carefully transfer the contents of the pan directly onto the beef in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on "low" for eight hours, or until the beef is very tender and easy to shred.
- Shred the beef directly in the slow cooker. Turn the heat down to "keep warm", and allow the shredded beef to soak in the juices in the slow cooker for about 20 minutes before serving.
- Serve hot, or store in the refrigerator for up to five days.