Beef Barbacoa for a Picnic!

Once upon a time, we took a really quick little trip to NYC, then slept a lot the next day, since we had been out for many, many hours the previous day.  Then our parents, HFK and MMB came for a Memorial Day picnic!  But more on that later.  The following day, I helped RMB paint, packed and early the next morning headed to Canada for a math conference!  Talk about a busy week!

The conference was AH-MAZING and I'm already looking forward to going in 2017!  Wahoo!  I won't bore you with the bazillion pictures I took on our "field trip" to Niagara Falls, but here are just a few!

Anyway, back to the picnic.  This was actually the second year we hosted family for Memorial Day, and the second year that I've made beef barbacoa for the picnic!  Last year, we ended up eating in the backyard, but as that was being seeded and there were more of us, we headed out to a nearby park instead!

This is actually the third time I've used this barbacoa recipe for a "picnic" situation, since I also made it for last year's camping adventure!  RMB actually introduced me to the recipe, and NES pestered me to make it for a long time before I actually did!
What makes this my go-to picnic food for a crowd is that it can be served equally as well hot or cold, and it's very easy to prepare.

In the past, I've made it ahead and served it cold, but this year, I switched it up.

I made the sauce (we'll call it that for lack of a better word) and then stuck the beef in the crockpot overnight.  

Funny story -- this recipe calls for a whole head of garlic, and I bought one specifically for it.  It was labelled "super giant garlic" at the store, but little did I expect the whole head to be THREE GIANT CLOVES!  I had never in my life seen such giant garlic cloves.  I was happy however, as it meant less peeling for me, and because I needed the whole head anyway, I didn't have to decide how to split them up into reasonably sized cloves!

Then, in the morning, I took the beef out of the crockpot, pulled it, and stuck it back in the crockpot on warm with about 1/4 of the cooking liquid.  It stayed warm and moist till it was time to go!

I put it into a bowl, wrapped it in a towel, and we brought it to the park!

I also brought some homemade guacamole, cheese, salsa, chopped tomatoes, sour cream and tortillas for picnic taco-making!

We were fortunate enough to have parents bringing chips, fruit and potato salad, so that was a meal!

We stopped later for ice cream (of course!) while we enjoyed the sidewalk sale and shops downtown.  Yum!

Oh, and NES and I have been eating leftover beef for a week now after 9 people ate their fill of tacos, so it really does make a lot!

Slow Cooker Barbacoa Beef
from The Kitchn

4 chipotle peppers, and all the adobo sauce in the can
1 bunch of cilantro
1 red onion, peeled and quarted
1 head garlic, cloved peeled and smashed
2 tsp. ground cloves
1 tbsp. salt
juice of 4 limes
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
5 lb. (ish) beef brisket or any roasting cut
4-6 cups beef or chicken broth
5 bay leaves

In a food processor, add the chipolte peppers and sauce, cilantro, red onion, garlic, cloves, salt, lime juice and vinegar, and give a few quick pulses to combine.

Add this mixture to a 6+ quart slow cooker.  Place the beef on top -- cutting if necessary to get a good fit.  Carefully turn the meat so all sides are covered in sauce.

Cover the meat with broth, and add the bay leaves.  Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on low 8-10 hours.

Remove the meat from the slow cooker, and place on a rimmed cookie sheet.  Use two forks to shred the meat.

If not ready to serve, reserve about 1/4 of the cooking liquid in the slow cooker and return the pulled meat into the slow cooker.  Turn to warm setting.

When ready to serve, put the meat in a bowl, and ladle cooking liquid over the top.  The meat should not be swimming in the liquid, but put enough to keep the meat nice and moist.

Serve with tortillas and taco fixings, on nachos, in quesadillas, on baked sweet potatoes with a little cheese, you name it!


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