If you have any stewing meat in your freezer, now’s a great time to defrost it and make this Beef Barbacoa. Not only is it insanely delicious and packed with flavour, but it also happens to be Whole30 and Paleo-friendly. The rice you see in the picture, however, is NOT Whole30 or Paleo compliant. But considering we are in a 2-week self-quarantine amidst the Corona Virus pandemic, I figured now’s an OK time to flex my Food Freedom muscle. To keep things Whole30 and Paleo, just serve over my Cauliflower Rice.

Here, I used frozen beef stewing meat because that’s what I had, but lamb, venison, elk, pork, or bison would all work. Ideally, you’ll use something with a little bit of marbling, such as beef chuck, oxtail or short ribs. However, it works just as well with leaner stewing cuts like bottom round. Using what you have is really the name of the game right now.

Barbacoa refers to the absolutely wonderful Mexican technique of slowly roasting lamb, beef or pork. It involves digging a pit in the ground and cooking spiced meat alongside maguey leaves (from the agave plant). Don’t worry, this recipe does not require a pit, shovel or even maguey leaves – though you could go that route if your heart desires and you would receive my applause in the process!

It can be made on the stovetop in a Dutch oven or stock pot. Or, it can be made in a slow cooker or Instant Pot. The recipes are very similar regardless of which method you choose. For your cooking convenience, I’ve shared all three methods below.

Whole30 Beef Barbacoa Paleo Primal Gourmet Easy Mexican Quarantine Recipe

This Beef Barbacoa is actually very similar in terms of prep, ingredients and flavours to my Ancho Pork recipe, with a few key differences.

As mentioned, I use beef here. Lamb is the more popular choice for barbacoa in Mexico (depending on where you are in the country), but market research tells me that not everyone loves lamb as much as I do. I also like to use a variety of dried Mexican chilies here, as opposed to just ancho chilies in my Ancho Pork. Each of the chilies has it’s own character and brings wonderful differences in colour to the finished dish.

In this recipe, I used guajillo, chipotle, ancho and cascabel peppers. If you can only find one or the other, than use that. It’s not a big deal. Otherwise, try mixing and matching to see which combinations you like. Dried chipotles might be hard to find. If that’s the case add a touch more smoked paprika to amp-up the smokiness of the dish.

Whole30 Beef Barbacoa Paleo Primal Gourmet Easy Mexican Quarantine Recipe

Sometimes, I will add a drizzle of agave syrup to balance the earthiness from the dried chilis. This is a no-go if doing Whole30, so you should omit if you’re doing a round. But if you are just living your Food Freedom, the tiny bit of sweetness goes a long way in this beef barbacoa.

Why I love Beef Barbacoa?

Because there are few recipes this easy that crank out such an overwhelmingly delicious finished product. Not to mention the fact that I always have plenty of leftovers that can be frozen for later or can be used to cook a doctored-up Huevos Rancheros like this one here, the next morning.

Whole30 Barbacoa Eggs Skillet Breakfast Idea Paleo Primal Gourmet

Whole30 Beef Barbacoa - Stovetop Version
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
2 hrs
 

This Whole30 Beef Barbacoa is flavoured with the deep and sophisticated tastes of Mexican cuisine but is simple enough for even a rookie home cook to master

Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: barbacoa, beef barbacoa, whole30 barbacoa, whole30 recipes
Servings: 6 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 cups chicken or beef stock
  • 1 dried whole ancho chili pepper
  • 1 dried whole guajillo chili pepper
  • 1 dried whole chipotle chili pepper
  • 1 dried whole cascabel chili pepper
  • 4-5 cloves garlic – peeled
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons agave syrup optional - omit if doing Whole30
  • 1 tablespoon loosely-packed fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried thyme or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 3 lbs beef chuck roast or stewing meat
  • 1 medium yellow onion thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons avocado oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly-cracked black pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Add stock to a sauce pan and bring to a rapid simmer over high heat. Add the ancho, guajillo, chipotle and cascabel chilies, cover with a lid, remove from heat and let the chilies steep until completely soft and pliable, around 20 minutes.
  2. Reserving the stock, carefully remove and discard the seeds and stems from chilies. Add the flesh and skins of chilis to a high-speed blender along with the garlic, vinegar, agave syrup (if using), thyme or oregano, cinnamon, coriander, and smoked paprika. Pour in the reserved stock through a sieve to catch any seeds and blend on high speed until completely smooth. Set mixture aside.

  3. Preheat a Dutch oven over medium heat for 5 minutes. Pat the beef very dry with paper towel.
  4. Raise the heat to medium-high heat, add avocado oil and heat the until shimmering. Carefully add the beef and cook, undisturbed, until browned, around 6 minutes. Flip and brown the other side, around 6 minutes. Transfer beef to a bowl and set aside.
  5. Add the onions and season with a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring and lifting any brown bits on the bottom of the pot, until softened, around 4 minutes. Pour in the chili mixture and stir to coat. Return the browned beef to the pot and stir to coat. Bring to a simmer, cover with a lid, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the beef is fork-tender, around 2 hours.
  6. Using two forks, shred the beef and stir to coat in the sauce. Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt and pepper as desired. If necessary, you can reduce the sauce further by simmering it over med-low heat, uncovered, until the desired consistency is reached.
  7. Serve the Beef Barbacoa over a bowl of cauliflower rice and garnishes of choice.
Whole30 Beef Barbacoa - Slow Cooker Version
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
8 hrs
 

This Whole30 Beef Barbacoa is flavoured with the deep and sophisticated tastes of Mexican cuisine but is simple enough for even a rookie home cook to master

Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: barbacoa, beef barbacoa, easy whole30 recipe, whole30 barbacoa
Servings: 6 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 cups chicken or beef stock
  • dried whole ancho chili pepper
  • dried whole guajillo chili pepper
  • dried whole chipotle chili pepper
  • dried whole cascabel chili pepper
  • 4-5  cloves  garlic – peeled
  • tablespoons  apple cider vinegar
  • tablespoons  agave syrup optional - omit if doing Whole30
  • tablespoon  loosely-packed fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried thyme or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • teaspoon  ground cinnamon
  • teaspoon  ground coriander
  • teaspoon  smoked paprika
  • lbs  beef chuck roast or stewing meat
  • medium yellow onion thinly sliced
  • tablespoons  avocado oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly-cracked black pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Add stock to a sauce pan and bring to a rapid simmer over high heat. Add the ancho, guajillo, chipotle and cascabel chilies, cover with a lid, remove from heat and let the chilies steep until completely soft and pliable, around 20 minutes.
  2. Reserving the stock, carefully remove and discard the seeds and stems from chilies. Add the flesh and skins of chilis to a high-speed blender along with the garlic, vinegar, agave syrup (if using), thyme or oregano, cinnamon, coriander, and smoked paprika. Pour in the reserved stock through a sieve to catch any seeds and blend on high speed until completely smooth. Set mixture aside.
  3. Preheat a Dutch oven over medium heat for 5 minutes. Pat the beef very dry with paper towel.
  4. Raise the heat to medium-high heat, add avocado oil and heat the until shimmering. Carefully add the beef and cook, undisturbed, until browned, around 6 minutes. Flip and brown the other side, around 6 minutes. Transfer beef to the slow cooker.

  5. Add the onions to the pot used to brown the beef and season with a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring and lifting any brown bits on the bottom of the pot, until softened, around 4 minutes. Add the onions to the slow cooker along with the chili mixture and stir to coat. Cover with lid and cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours or on HIGH for 3 to 4 hours, or until the beef is fork-tender.

  6. Using two forks, shred the beef and stir to coat in the sauce. Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt and pepper as desired. If necessary, you can reduce the sauce further by simmering it over med-low heat, uncovered, until the desired consistency is reached.
  7. Serve the Beef Barbacoa over a bowl of cauliflower rice and garnishes of choice.

 

Whole30 Beef Barbacoa - Instant Pot Version
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
1 hr 15 mins
 

This Whole30 Beef Barbacoa is flavoured with the deep and sophisticated tastes of Mexican cuisine but is simple enough for even a rookie home cook to master

Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: barbacoa, beef barbacoa, easy whole30 recipe, whole30 beef barbacoa
Servings: 6 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 cups chicken or beef stock
  • dried whole ancho chili pepper
  • dried whole guajillo chili pepper
  • dried whole chipotle chili pepper
  • dried whole cascabel chili pepper
  • 4-5  cloves  garlic – peeled
  • tablespoons  apple cider vinegar
  • tablespoons  agave syrup optional - omit if doing Whole30
  • tablespoon  loosely-packed fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried thyme or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • teaspoon  ground cinnamon
  • teaspoon  ground coriander
  • teaspoon  smoked paprika
  • lbs  beef chuck roast or stewing meat
  • medium yellow onion thinly sliced
  • tablespoons  avocado oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly-cracked black pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Add stock to a sauce pan and bring to a rapid simmer over high heat. Add the ancho, guajillo, chipotle and cascabel chilies, cover with a lid, remove from heat and let the chilies steep until completely soft and pliable, around 20 minutes.
  2. Reserving the stock, carefully remove and discard the seeds and stems from chilies. Add the flesh and skins of chilis to a high-speed blender along with the garlic, vinegar, agave syrup (if using), thyme or oregano, cinnamon, coriander, and smoked paprika. Pour in the reserved stock through a sieve to catch any seeds and blend on high speed until completely smooth. Set mixture aside.

  3. Set Instant Pot to SAUTE mode and preheat 5 minutes. Pat the beef very dry with paper towel.
  4. Add avocado oil and heat the until shimmering. Carefully add the beef and cook, undisturbed, until browned, around 6 minutes. Flip and brown the other side, around 6 minutes. Transfer beef to a bowl and set aside.
  5. Add the onions and season with a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring and lifting any brown bits on the bottom of the pot, until softened, around 4 minutes. Pour in the chili mixture and stir to coat. Return the browned beef to the pot and stir to coat. Bring to a simmer, cover with a lid, set valve to sealing position, and program Instant Pot to manual, high pressure for 60 minutes. Once the cooking time has elapsed, release the pressure manually.

  6. Using two forks, shred the beef and stir to coat in the sauce. Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt and pepper as desired. If necessary, you can reduce the sauce further by simmering using the SAUTE mode, uncovered, until the desired consistency is reached.
  7. Serve the Beef Barbacoa over a bowl of cauliflower rice and garnishes of choice.