Thursday, June 2, 2011

Barbacoa de Res

Barbacoa de Res

Our original inspiration for this was to do a play on a typically north American surf and turf, using the ever-popular beef and shrimp combo. One of our favorite dishes is barbacoa or pit braised meat. Usually wrapped in agave or banana leaves and flavored with avocado leaves this succulent dish cooks in the ground for several hours is totally worth the effort.

For our mini home version we used a pressure cooker, banana leaves and bone in beef (short ribs seemed like the obvious choice!). Being in Montreal in May the only avocado leaves we found were dry, but you will see even dried they impregnate with their subtle aromas. Rich chili marinade, salsa de camarones, green plantain tortillas and home made pickles rounded out this dish for us but the meat would be amazing in corn tortillas with your favorite salsa and a classic raw onion and cilantro mix. Try it out!!

3 lbs. beef short ribs

3 dried Ancho chilies

3 dried Guajillo chilies

1 dried Chipotle chili

1 cup of warm water

1 clove

2 peppercorns

3 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 small tomato, chopped

1 small onion, chopped

1 tbsp pork lard

1 tsp pineapple vinegar (completely replaceable by apple cider vinegar)

salt and pepper

6-8 avocado leaves

6-8 bay leaves

6-8 large squares of banana leaf

Seed and soak all the dried chilies in the warm water for around 20 minutes. Once re-hydrated place in blender with the clove, peppercorn, tomato, onion, garlic and blend with enough soaking liquid to make a loose paste. We used all of it and I would suggest the same. Heat the lard in a skillet and once melted add the mixture from the blender. Cook down to create a thick paste. This takes about 10-15 minutes on medium heat. Once done cooking down season the mixture with salt, pepper and the vinegar.

Sear short ribs, cut in half and seasoned with salt on high heat to create a nice crust. Place in the centre of a banana leaf and rub with chili paste. Put one avocado leaf and one bay leaf in each package and fold to close, securing with a little butchers twine. If using a pressure cooker, put 1 inch of water in the bottom, top with a rack and stack all of your meat packages on top of each other. Cook with a medium weight for around 90 minutes. If you don’t have a pressure cooker you can achieve the same results in a pot fitted with a rack or a vegetable steamer. Fill the bottom of the pot with water, place you meat packages inside and cook on medium low heat for around 4 hours.

Once the meat is cooked let rest slightly and serve with your desired condiments. This would also be great just accompanied by some nice rice and veggies. Enjoy!