Smoke-Cooked Barbacoa

Recently a local chain supermarket ran a BOGO (buy one get one of equal or lesser value free) weekly sale on Choice chuck roasts.  I bought 6 roast that totaled 15.17 pounds and the averaged cost per pound worked out to be $3.04.  After closely trimming and cutting into large chunks, only 13.42 pounds of meat was left.  So, the price per pound of starting-raw closely trimmed meat then went up to $3.43 because of the 1.75 pounds of trim loss.

Pictured is starting raw beef; with trim loss on the tray next to the roasting pan.  For 13.42 pounds of beef I calculated the need for 5 1/4 TBSP of salt and 4 1/2 tsp. of roast sodium phosphate.  The other non-meat ingredients used to produce a marinate were water, onion, garlic, adobo sauce, cumin, ground cloves and oregano.  I merely estimate the amount of each marinate ingredient.

Here minced onion and crushed garlic are being sautéed in a small amount olive oil.

Next, the remaining seasoning plus a small amount of water was added and the mixture was brought to a boil for about 3 minutes.  After boiling, to help sterilize the marinate and blend flavors, the pot was placed in refrigeration to rapidly chill.

Roast sodium phosphate was dissolved, in a little water, in the white bowl on the left; then salt and everything else was blended in a well chilled mixture.

Marinate and meat chunks were mixed together in  a roasting pan then covered with a lid and refrigerated for a day or two.  Meat was remixed a time or two during the marinating phase.

On the smoke-cooking day two large fibrous casings were soaked in warm water for about a half hour before stuffing with meat.  A tsp. of Prague powder # 1 was added to the casing soak water to provide a faux smoke-ring in the finished product.  I like to turn the casings inside out at the start of soaking; then turn them back just prior to stuffing.

While the casing were soaking I diced up a thin cut piece of hardwood to be used for smoke generation.

Marinated beef chunks were hand stuffed in two partial, large fibrous casings.  Cotton Butcher’s string was used to tie casing ends and excess casing was cut off using kitchen shears.

Smoke phase start-up.  Two charcoal chimneys of partially lit briquettes are under the hardwood chunks.  Cast iron water pan (mainly for heat diffusing) is full and once the shroud is in place the smoke-cooker will not require any attention for about 2 1/2 hours.

6 hour smoke phase underway.  About every 2 hours 2/3 of a charcoal chimney of partially lit briquettes are added and the water pan is topped off.  Both of those functions are accomplished without removing the shroud.

Soot covered casing after 6 hours in the smoke-cooker.  Internal temperature was 155F (in stall).

Rinsed off casings ready to be stripped.

Liquid in casings was added to the bottom of the roasting pan.  Rack keeps meat up out of liquid so there is no washed out water-cooked flavor development in the finished product.

Covered roaster in 250F oven.

Stripped chubs hit 200F internal after 1 1/2 hours in the 250F oven.

A small amount of cooking purge was mixed into meat as it was being shredded.

Shredding is easiest while product is hot, but it may be too hot of bare hand right after cooking completion.

Hand shredded smoked barbacoa.

8 sandwich bag size packages double wrapped for freezer storage, plus a bowl for immediate use.

Convenience packed smoked barbacoa is versatile for fajitas, chipotle style dishes and can be stirred into beef stew after everything else is cooked and chilled.  When adding to beef stew, I fine dice partially frozen packages of smoked barbacoa.

Eat wisely and well my friends.

Written by George Wolfer

George Wolfer

Been associated with the meat industry pretty much since starting at a Vocational High school Meat Processing program in 1974. Like to learn and teach interesting and worthwhile livestock production, meat processing and marketing practices.

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