When the kids were little Old El Paso Beef Tacos were a permanent fixture on our menu. You know the type? Beef mince with shredded iceberg, chopped tomatoes, tasty cheese and a bit of bottled salsa thrown in. Grated carrot sometimes had a look in if I was feeling adventurous. After a visit to the US about 10 years ago, I realised that there was so much more to Mexican food and that the version we had here in Australia was really not Mexican, it was Austrexican. A dulled down version, using largely processed seasoning mixes and salsas. Not anymore. We have branched out and now that there are so many readily available Mexican ingredients around i.e Dried Ancho Chillies and Chipotle Chillies in Adobo, there really is no excuse for the old version. I have learnt that Mexican food relies heavily on fresh, tasty ingredients and varying spice blends that are so easy to make yourself and you can source the majority of these in the local supermarket. Those that you can’t, are so easy to get online. No longer do you even need to chop up your own slaw, they are all ready chopped up and ready for you to throw on your favourite Taco or Burger. It also means that you are feeding your family responsibly, lowering their sodium intake and giving them a balanced meal that has way more nutritional value. Win win, I say.

These delicious Beef Barbacoa Tacos are so simple. You can literally whizz the marinade up in a blender and pop the meat in your slow cooker, pressure cooker or oven, make a quick, fresh Guacamole, a zingy Onion Pickle and serve it on a bed of lime infused Kale Slaw. Perfect for a crowd and you could even freeze the leftover meat for another meal……

Prep time: 30 Minutes

Cooking times: 1 hour Pressure Cooker, 8 hours Slow Cooker, 4 hours Oven

(cooking times are a guide only, meat is ready when it pulls apart with two forks)

$$ Medium Budget

Serves 6 (with leftovers)

1.5kg Beef Brisket, fat trimmed (leave a little for flavour)

Sea salt & pepper

1 dried Ancho Chilli, soaked in 1 cup of boiling water for 10 minutes*

Oil for frying

4 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (found in the Mexican section of the supermarket)

5 cloves of garlic

2 large tomatoes, diced

1 tbs of ground cumin

1 tbs of dried oregano

1/2 tsp of ground cloves

1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar

Juice of 2 limes

2 tsp of sugar

3 bay leaves

1 bag of kale slaw

Juice of 1/2 a lime

1 cup of coriander leaves

Sour Cream to serve

1 long green chilli, finely sliced for garnish

2 packets of Corn Tortillas (wheat tortillas are fine also)

For the Guacamole:

2 large avocados, stone removed and peeled

1/2 a small red onion, very finely diced

4 sprigs of coriander, very finely chopped

1 tomato, finely diced

Tobasco sauce

Juice of 1 lime

Sea salt & pepper

For the Onion Pickle:

1 large red onion, thinly sliced

Juice of 1 lime

Sea salt

To prepare the Beef Barbacoa Taco meat, trim the brisket of any excess fat but leave a little for flavour. Cut the meat into large chunks (about the size of your palm) and season with salt and pepper. Brown the beef in a hot pan with a little oil until golden on all sides. Place it in your slow cooker, pressure cooker, casserole or oven tray.

Place the chopped tomatoes, chipotle chillies, ancho chilli (remove the stalk) and half of the water, cumin, cloves, oregano, garlic, apple cider vinegar, sugar & lime juice in a small processor or Ninja and blitz until smooth. Pour the sauce over the meat and add the bay leaves and season with salt and pepper, making sure the meat is submerged in the sauce.

For the Pressure Cooker: Cover with the lid and set the pressure to 50 minutes. Once cooked remove the lid and use two forks to pry the meat apart. If it does not fall apart easily, continue cooking for a further 20 minutes.

For the Slow cooker: Cover the meat with a sheet of baking paper (this helps keep the moisture in) and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Check if the meat pulls apart at the 6 hour mark and if not cook for a further 1-2 hours.

For the Oven: Cover the meat with baking paper and tightly wrap in foil (or use an oven proof casserole) and bake in a preheated 160°C oven for 3-4 hours or until the meat falls apart.

When the meat is ready, remove it from the sauce and place it in a tray. Shred it using two forks (I find this the easiest way) and once all shredded add it back to the sauce. Keep warm until serving or reheat if making ahead.

Place the red onion, lime juice and salt in a small bowl and stir to dissolve the salt. Set the onions aside until ready to serve, they will turn lovely and bright pink in colour and the pickling will take away some of the raw onion flavour.

To make the Guacamole, mash the avocado until relatively smooth then add the tomato, onion, coriander and lime juice. Season with salt and pepper and add as much or as little tobasco as you like. I like it quite spicy so would generally add about 2 teaspoons, however you should do it to your taste.

Toss the coriander leaves through the slaw and dress. If you prefer to make your own dressing, a couple of tablespoons of whole egg mayonnaise and juice of 1/2 a lime will do the trick. Season the dressing with salt and pepper if making your own. It is perfectly fine to use the dressing provided, just add the lime for a bit of freshness.

Cook the tortillas according to packet instructions.

To assemble the Beef Barbacoa Tacos, take a heated tortilla and place a little kale slaw on the bottom. Top with the Beef Barbacoa mixture, guacamole and the onion pickle. Garnish with a dollop of sour cream and chilli slices.

*You can source Dried Ancho Chillies from Herbies Spices online (link below) or I have been able to get large bags of them at Harris Farm Markets.

Leftover Ancho’s? You may like to cook this……