Barbacoa Beef Cheek Tacos

Ancho (Ahn-cho) Chile (Capsicum Annum) means Wide Chile Pepper. This chile ranges from 3 – 4 on a heat scale of 1 to 10. An Ancho is the dried form of a Poblano Pepper and often is mislabeled as a Pasilla or Mulato Pepper. Anchos have sweet fruity flavor with hints of cherry, prune, and fig. Anchos, combined with the Pasilla and Guajillo, form the Holy Trinity of chiles used to prepare the traditional mole sauces. Scoville heat units are 1,000 to 3,000.

Suggested Use:
Anchos are great in salsa, soups, enchilada and any sauce needing mild heat and chile flavor. Chopped, pureed or ground, they can be added directly to your recipes.

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Pickled Onions:
1 red onion
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 a beet
1 handful cilantro
1 part water
2 parts cider vinegar

Barbacoa Beef Cheeks:
2 1/2 pounds beef cheeks
4 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon natural peanut butter
1 ancho chile
1 teaspoon instant espresso
2 tablespoons olive oil (plus 2 more for cooking)
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
1 handful fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup beef or chicken broth
3 limes
1 avocado
corn tortillas
fresh cilantro


Serves 6-8 (depends how many tacos each person can eat!)

Pickled Onions:
Slice the onions very thinly and put them in a microwaveable container. Add the beet, cilantro, salt and sugar. Cover everything with 1 part water to 2 parts vinegar.

Microwave for 1 minute, stir, and microwave for another minute. Cool, then refridgerate overnight. The beet will turn it a really pretty hot pink color.

Clean and trim the cheeks. Put them in a container that you can marinate them in. Remove the stem and seeds from the ancho, cut it up into chunks and rehydrate in a little water (I stick it in a ramekin and microwave for 30 seconds)

Peel and chop the garlic. Put everything from the garlic to the salt in the food processor (including the water from the chile) and blend into a paste. Toss the paste with the cheeks and marinate for several hours or better yet over night.

When it is time to cook, heat the oven to 275, and heat 2 tbs olive oil in a dutch oven. Brown the cheeks on both sides. Use the broth to rinse the rest of the marinade into the dutch oven, then squeeze the juice of 3 limes in.

When the cheeks are fall-apart tender, take the pan out of the oven. Using 2 forks, pull the meat apart in the pan so that it mixes in with all of that fatty juicy goodness.

To serve – heat 2 tortillas (I like to double wrap the taco as they are juicy). Fill with barbacoa, a slice of avocado, some of pickled onions and fresh cilantro. Serve and enjoy!!!