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Tacos de Barbacoa by Saraa Franco

Saraa Franco shares her family recipe for Beef Cheekmeat Barbacoa Tacos, and the tacos look exquisitos. They’re topped with peppers, onion, cilantro, and a touch of lime, for the perfect balance of savory, traditional flavors. Spanish explorers brought barbacoa north from the Caribbean into the present-day U.S. in the 16th and 17th centuries, and “barbecue,” as it’s known, has only gotten more popular in the last 500 years.

It’s impossible to imagine Mexican cuisine without barbacoa, and American food culture would be a sad, pale shadow of itself without it, too. Barbacoa is one of the most enjoyable contributions Hispanic culture has made to America. Thanks to Saraa for her recipe!

Rumba Meats® Beef Cheek Meat


  • Rumba Meats® Beef Cheek Meat (1 package, about 3 pounds)
  • ½ white onion
  • 1 California pepper
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon black whole pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 3 big bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 5 cups water


  1. Wrap the garlic, coriander seeds, pepper, oregano, and bay leaves in a small square of cheesecloth, draw the edges together to form a bag, then loosely tie it with kitchen twine (or use a small pre-made “spice bag”).
  2. Place the beef cheekmeat, onion, California pepper, and spice bag in the bowl of a slow cooker. Add water and vinegar.
  3. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours (overnight) or until the beef is tender and falls apart easily when shredded with a fork. Remove the spice bag, onion and California pepper. Take the meat out, then using two forks, shred the beef into bite-sized pieces. Mix the beef with the juices in the slow cooker, add salt to taste, then cover and let the barbacoa beef soak up the juices for an extra 10 minutes on medium.
  4. Use a slotted spoon to serve the barbacoa.