Barbacoa Tostadas

I should probably stay away from reading food blogs on my lunch hour. They never fail to make me hungry and dash my weekly menu plan as my mind leaps to crave any dish I’m reading about. My friend Heather’s blog, Chik ‘n Pastry, always makes me hungry. I’m betting that a dose of Southern, sassy storytelling with a side of beautiful photography will make you hungry too.

Last week, Heather was writing about beef barbacoa tacos topped with a perfectly poached egg. My stomach was rumbling. I had a rump roast in the freezer, so I emailed Mark and asked him to take the roast out of the freezer when he got home, so that it would thaw in time for roasting on Saturday. Like many fine dishes – barbacoa is not to be rushed. You need an afternoon to slow roast it in the oven, then chill it overnight before reducing the juices to a spicy, beefy sauce the next day…oh, you could serve it the day you roast it, but it’ll be even better if you let it rest overnight – the wait is worth it, I promise.

We’ll be enjoying this fine barbacoa every-which-way this week – one roast makes for a lot of pulled beef, which I will happily craft into many more meals.

What’s your favorite taco combination? Share in the comments below…

Beef Barbacoa
Serves 8-14 (see serving notes below)
Adapted from
Chik ‘n Pastry who adapted it from Cooking Light (June 2010)

1, 2.5lb rump roast
BBQ spice rub, optional (recipe for rub)
2 T oil (safflower, grapeseed or another vegetable oil)
1/2 large onion roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic mashed
1 T dried mexican oregano
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp smoked paprika
3 T chipotle puree, divided
1 cup chicken stock
salt & pepper

For serving: tortillas, tostadas, minced onion, cilantro, salsa and maybe some perfect pinto beans if you’re feeling fancy.

  1. Take the roast out of the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature for about an hour. When you’re about ready to get the roast cooking, preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Unwrap the roast and pat it dry with paper towel. Sprinkle on a few tablespoons of the BBQ spice rub (alternately, you can just use salt & pepper if you don’t have a rub you like hanging around already), and press it onto all sides of the roast for a light coating.
  3. Heat a dutch oven that will fit the roast without too much extra room around the edges over medium heat. Add the oil. When the oil is hot and shimmering, gently lay the roast in the pan and sear for 2 minutes on each side, until all sides are seared. Remove the roast with tongs and set aside on a plate, while you saute the onions.
  4. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the oil, and return the pot to the heat. Add the onions and garlic and a pinch of salt and saute for 2-3 minutes. Then add the cumin, coriander, smoked paprika, 1 T of chipotle puree and chicken stock to the pot. Stir. Nestle the roast into the pot, cover and bring to a simmer.
  5. Once the liquids in the pot are simmering, move the roast to the oven and roast, covered, for 3 hours, turning the roast over halfway through the cooking time. After 3 hours, remove the roast from the oven and let it cool uncovered on the stovetop for an hour or so, then re-cover and move to the fridge to chill overnight.
  6. The next day, skim the layer of solidified fat off the top of the juices with a spoon and discard. Remove the roast and set aside. Place the pot with oniony juices on the stove and heat until warm. Set a strainer over a bowl and pour the onion/juice mixture into the sieve and press all of the flavorful juices through the sieve and into the bowl. Discard the remaining solids and pour the strained juices back into the pot and bring it to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the liquids by half.
  7. While the sauce reduces, take a fork and scrape at the roast to make pulled beef, chopping it up a bit as you go so that you’re left with bite-size strings of meat instead of long, messy tendrils. When the sauce has reduced by half, add the beef back into the pot, and gently stir to allow the beef to soak up the juices. Add another dollop of chipotle puree to the beef mixture if you want the beef to be spicier. Serve with corn tortillas, minced onion and cilantro for tacos

Serving Notes: We like to make our meat stretch to feed us for as many meals as possible, because the beautiful pasture-raised organic meat we get in our farm share is precious. This roast will end up making about 14 servings for us. We had tostadas one night, I used 1.5 cups of meat in a quinoa salad – making enough for 6 lunches. We’ll have barbacoa quesadillas with salad for another dinner, and finish off the rest in either chilaquiles or a classic “stuff on rice” Mexican-ish casserole. And that’s how you make quality, humanely raised meat affordable.

Just in case you’d been missing our weekly athletic photos, here’s our group that walked in the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention walk at the Botanic Garden. John, Jeremy, Lane, Dave, Heidi, Steve, Katey, Shelley, Mark, Debbie, Chris, Danielle, Jenn

Chile Rubbed Sirloin Tip Roast

As with so many good things that have come into my kitchen recently, the initial inspiration for this one comes from Shauna, aka Gluten-Free Girl. She posted to twitter how much she loved Thomas Keller’s new cookbook, Ad Hoc at Home. I mentioned that I had just received my copy and she then convinced me in 140 characters that I needed to make his lentil and sweet potato soup. Which I did. And it is stellar.

Cooking with Thomas Keller requires far more precision than I’m used to. I cook by instinct and impulse, making a mess across the kitchen as I go. Thomas urges you to slow down, prep and cook precisely…this is a meditative practice I can definitely use. Cooking his soup took the better part of a morning, requiring much tending and fussing, but the end product is a composed soup where every element is showcased in each spoonful. It’s an incredible thing. But, this post is not (supposed) to be about soup. I set out here to tell you about the amazing roast you see above.

I had a sirloin tip roast from our farm share that had been thawing in the fridge all week awaiting Sunday dinner. The traditional roast beef is not really my cup of tea, which might seem odd considering my love of beef and lamb stews of all varieties, buy hey – we’re all entitled to our culinary quirks, right?! Knowing how incredible the meat from our farm share is, I did want to do right by the roast, and cook it properly.

Searching around the web, I had a hard time coming up with cooking instructions for this particular type of roast. It’s a very lean cut, so I knew that a slow braise was not going to be the best use of this beauty. Stumped, I gave up and curled up on the couch with Thomas’ mammoth cookbook and set to reading, cup of tea in hand. Turning to the meat section – there it was! Thomas explained what I didn’t know…that a sirloin tip roast is also called a “tri-tip.” He outlined his preferred method of cooking the roast…which is the basis for this recipe, though I’ve streamlined a few steps, changed direction in the flavor profile to a slightly earthy, quasi-Mexican combination and added some aromatics for the basis of a simple pan sauce to spoon over the sliced meat.

The finished roast was a perfect medium-rare, sliced like butter and wonderfully tender. I think Thomas would approve.

Sirloin Tip Roast
Serves: a crowd

2 sprigs rosemary
3 cloves garlic, divided
kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper
red wine
1 1/2 T ancho chile powder
1 1/2 T smoked paprika
grapeseed oil for searing

1 sprig rosemary
5 thin slices of lemon
1 leek, green ends trimmed off, and sliced in half lengthwise
1 carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1/2 onion, diced
1/4 tsp kosher salt

For pan sauce:
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/3 cup red wine
1 T butter
fresh ground black pepper
kosher salt

  1. The day before you plan to cook the roast, combine the smoked paprika and ancho chile powder in a small bowl and set aside. Mince 1 sprig of rosemary and 2 cloves of garlic, and set aside.
  2. Remove the roast from the fridge, and pat dry. Look closely at the roast – if you’re using a sirloin tip, there will be a few veins of silverskin throughout the roast. With luck, you should be able to slide your knife in next to the first vein of silverskin and butterfly the roast, opening one flap. Gently pushing your knife underneath the silverskin, trim it out. Look for the next vein of silverskin and again slide your knife under, continuing to open the roast like a book and trim out the silverskin. Continue trimming out the roast until all the silverskin has been removed.
  3. Sprinkle the minced rosemary and garlic on the inside of the roast, then roll the roast up into a tight log. Take your kitchen twine, and tie the roast up, encircling the roast with knotted twine every two inches. Once the roast is tied, take the chile mixture (reserve about a tablespoon of the chile mixture for the next day), and sprinkle it over the roast, patting it into the meat. Wrap the roast tightly in plastic wrap and stash in the fridge overnight.
  4. Cooking the roast: Remove the roast 1 1/2 hours before you plan to cook it so that it comes to room temperature. Remove the plastic wrap and pat it dry with paper towel. Combine the reserved chile mixture with 1 tsp of kosher salt and rub it into the outside of the roast. Let the roast sit for an hour.
  5. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Take out a roasting pan (or quarter sheet pan like I used). Pile the diced aromatics into the middle of the pan – carrots, onion, lemon slices, 1 rosemary sprig, celery and one clove of smashed garlic. Add 1/4 tsp kosher salt sprinkled on top. Take the halved leek, and set it at the ends of the pile of veggies to create a roasting stand for the beef to sit on while it roasts.
  6. Searing the roast: Heat a large stainless steel skillet over medium heat to get it scorching hot. Add some oil to the pan to coat the bottom, then gently place the meat in the pan. Sear for 2 minutes on each side, then place the roast on top of the aromatics and roast in the oven until the internal temperature reaches 140 degrees (for a medium-rare roast). Once the roast reaches temperature, remove the roast from the oven and place on a carving board and loosely cover with aluminum foil. Let the meat rest for 25 minutes before carving.
  7. While the meat rests, make the pan sauce. Place the sheet pan with the aromatics over a burner turned to medium. Add 1/2 cup of chicken stock and 1/3 cup red wine. Bring to a boil, stirring the aromatics. Reduce the liquids by half, then place a strainer over a small saucepan and pour the pan sauce and aromatics into the strainer. Press on the aromatics with a spoon to get drain all of the liquid into the pan. Place the pan back on the heat and bring to a boil. Add 1 T butter, and stir to melt the butter. Turn the burner off, leaving the pan on the burner until the meat is carved, then spoon the sauce over the sliced meat.