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Barbacoa with Strawberry-Nectarine Salsa

September 19, 2016

SEPTEMBER 18th, 2016 — The “end of summer” is all I had to go off on for coming up with the idea for slow-cooked meat with fruity salsa.

barbacoa-2So what did you do?
I first got up in time to get the ingredients for the barbacoa. I then prepared the cooking liquid and mixed it in a pitcher, which included:

  • 1/2 cup beef stock
  • 4-5 chipotle chilis in adobo sauce, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3-4 tbsp adobo sauce
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1-2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 2 tsp salt

I then sliced 1 red onion into long strips, two thirds of which I laid down in a slow-cooker. On top of that bed I placed the 2.5 lbs chuck roast (various other recipes also recommend using brisket). I poured over the cooking liquid and placed the remaining onion on top. I then commenced the slow cooking for 8 hours on the low setting.

The reason why the cooking liquid ingredients are all so approximate is that about 5-6 hours in, I tasted a bit of the outside of the roast and found it pretty bland, so I added more chipotles, adobo, vinegar, and garlic salt.

At this point I also turned over the roast for even cooking.

barbacoa-3For the fruit salsa, I finely diced 2 cups strawberries, 2 large yellow nectarines, 1/2 onion, and a small bunch of cilantro. I tossed all in a large bowl with the juice of 1 lime. I added some salt to taste, though I don’t think it’s that necessary.

As a base, I decided to go with polenta (though I was considering some kind of cornmeal or masa cake). For the polenta, I sliced a pre-cooked log into slices and pan-fried them. I decided to leave them plain since they were going to be holding so many other flavorful passengers.

After assembling, I topped with feta cheese (only because Gelson’s didn’t have cotija or queso fresco)!

I’m not a very patient person (thus not one for slow cookers), but this was amazing and I’d make it again. Though—getting the meat cooked via the slow cooker ahead of time makes the rest of the cooking less stressful, as I was juggling with preparing fewer hot items.

barbacoa-1I’m obviously not going to call the whole thing a Mexican dish because of the lack of Mexican ingredients in everything other than the meat, but I think the balance of bright & deep flavors was spot-on.



Lessons learned?
I don’t cook with polenta all the time, and I remember that just like last time, the polenta wasn’t getting crispy the way I thought it would, even with the generous amount of oil I used to pan-fry it. I think I’ll try baking it with no oil next time…

Also, I tried to make it to the farmer’s market during its closing 20 minutes so as to find cheap strawberries, but I was too late, so I settled on Trader Joe’s strawberries, which weren’t very sweet. Boo.

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