Chile-Marinated Steamed Beef

  • Serves

    serves 8

(Barbacoa de Toro)

While in Mexico, we were served this barbacoa including the organ meats.They were divided up along with the rest of the meat and added to each person's plate. Adjusting the proportions of those meats for a smaller, home version of the dish is tricky to do, so we've omitted them here.


For the Marinade

  • 10 guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded
  • 8 coste–o chiles, stemmed and seeded
  • 8 puya chiles, stemmed and seeded
  • 4 pasilla chiles, stemmed and seeded
  • 3 ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded
  • 3 dried New Mexico chiles, stemmed and seeded
  • 1 (4") piece canela (true cinnamon)
  • 1 Tbsp. cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp. allspice berries
  • 1 tsp. whole cloves
  • 1 tsp. dried marjoram
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 2 heads garlic, cloves separated, crushed, and peeled
  • 3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. salt

For the Meat

  • 5 lb. flank steak, trimmed and cut crosswise into 5" pieces
  • 3 lb. beef short ribs
  • Salt
  • 1 12 dried chickpeas
  • 1 beef foot, halved lengthwise, quartered crosswise, and scrubbed
  • 1 cup long grain rice, rinsed and drained
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled , trimmed , and cut into 1 "pieces
  • 14 head cabbage, cored
  • 1 oz. dried corn husk, husks seperated and rinsed


Step 1

For the marinade: Rinse chiles, then put them into a small pot. Add 2 1⁄2 cups water, bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and cook, stirring occasionally, until pliable, 3-4 minutes. Remove pot from heat and set aside.

Step 2

Heat a comal, griddle, or heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Add cinnamon, cumin, allspice, cloves, marjoram, and thyme and toast, stirring, until fragrant, 30-40 seconds, then transfer to a small bowl and set aside to let cool. Grind spices in a spice grinder to a fine powder, then transfer to a blender. Add garlic, vinegar, salt, and chiles and their cooking liquid and puree. Pass chile paste through a sieve, pressing on solids with the back of a wooden spoon, into a large bowl and discard solids. Set marinade aside.

Step 3

For the meat: Season steak and short ribs with 1 tbsp. salt and add to bowl with the marinade. Slather marinade all over meat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 12-24 hours. Put chickpeas into a large bowl, cover with cold water, and set aside to let soak for 8 hours or overnight.

Step 4

The following day, drain chickpeas and put into a 20-quart stockpot with a tight-fitting lid. Add beef foot, rice, carrots, cabbage, and 20 cups cold water. Suspend a colander just large enough to fit inside stockpot, 1" below rim of the pot, by securely tying handles of colander to handles of stockpot with heavy kitchen twine (see photo, left). Line colander with half of the corn husks. Put meat into colander and cover with remaining corn husks. Cover pot with a clean dish towel and cover with lid. Cook over medium heat, undisturbed, until meat is tender, 3 1⁄2-4 hours.

Step 5

Uncover pot, transfer meat to a large platter, and set aside to let rest until cool enough to handle, discarding husks. Meanwhile, untie colander from pot. Season broth in pot to taste with salt. Shred meat, then moisten with 2-3 ladelfuls of the broth, vegetables, chickpeas, and beef feet to a soup tureen.

Step 6

To serve, ladle broth, vegetables, and chickpeas into small bowls or cups and serve alongside meat. Serve with refried ayocote beans, rice with tomatoes and onions, tomatillo-chile salsa and red tomato-chile salsa, and warm corn tortillas, if you like.

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