Barbacoa is not for everybody. Just the whole thought of it and how it is made is enough for many people to stay away. But for the adventuresome cook and eater, this is something you will definitely enjoy, and possibly make it a regular Sunday morning meal yourself.
If you have no idea where to buy a "head" of cattle for these barbacoa recipes, get to know a butcher really well and he will set you up. In many areas, you may be the only one requesting this, so this price ought to be right.
But if you still can not get the cattle head, substitute a large chuck roast and wrap it in foil in either of the barbacoa recipes. It won't be quite as good, but is much easier and you won't get tossed out of your house for cooking it either.
Leave the head on the pit for as long as you can keep the heat going (overnight is best).
When ready to eat the next day, unwrap, pull off as much beef as you can. Serve with warm tortillas and salsa or pico de gallo.
This is one of those barbacoa recipes with a little more for the "gringo" cook and stomach kept in mind. It is cooked in an electric (charcoal one can also be used) water smoker to bring out the traditional "smoked barbacoa" flavor.
South Texas Barbacoa
2 teaspoons black pepper
Just before cooking, mix together the dry ingredients and rub them into and all over the meat.
Place some soaked wood chips near the heating element of a water smoker. Pour about 3 quarts boiling water into the water pan, and smoke the beef for 5 hours at between 225 and 275 degrees.
Check the smoker after 2 1/2 hours and add additional boiling water to the pan if it needs it. When finished, the internal temperature of the beef should be 160 - 170 degrees.
Place the beef in a baking pan and seal it with aluminum foil. Place it in an oven at 300 degrees. Bake for about an hour. Remove the meat from the oven put it in a large paper grocery bag and fold tightly to close. Leave it for about an hour.
Remove the meat from the pan. Chop and shred the very tender meat into small pieces. Serve with a delicious guacamole, salsa, and warm tortillas.
Barbacoa recipes use many other techniques, depending on what region of Texas or Mexico you referring to. Use one of the barbacoa recipes that works best for you, and you might own all barbacoa champion rights in your area.