Tender Fall-Apart Beef Cheek Tacos!
Yes, I said beef cheeks. Trust me, you will fall in love with these the first time you make them. This is my "go to" when making barbacoa. Barbacoa is a basically a form of cooking meat until fall apart tender. Traditionally, meats are cooked slowly over an open fire or in a hole in the ground that has been covered in large leaves. Since I do not have either of these at my standard tailgate. I decided to go with my smoker.
- FOGO Charcoal
- Beef Cheeks
- Your favorite beef rub
- Tortillas (Corn or Flour)
- Beer or Coffee and beef broth
Beef cheeks can be difficult to find, but your friendly butcher should be able to hook you up. These have a high-fat content and will require some trimming.
After a lot of fat trimming, you will end up with a bunch of tasty looking cheeks. Yes, they actually look like giant beef cheeks.
Once they are trimmed up, sprinkle some of your favorite Stubbs Beef Rub on both sides of the cheeks. I was pretty aggressive with my seasoning on this one. Once they are all rubbed up, toss em on a grill or smoker set for 250 - 275 degrees and rolling with pecan or hickory smoke. As always, use your FOGO Premium Lump Charcoal to heat the grill.
I let these go for about 2 hours before I started spritzing with some corona. As you can see below, the cheeks have shrunk down quite a bit and started to form a nice bark.
Spritz every 15 - 20 minutes to help keep them moist. These will go until we get an internal temp of 180 degrees. These cheeks reached 180 at the 3-hour mark. Once they reach 180, it’s time for the beer or coffee bath. It’s up to you. I ran 2 batches over the weekend and tried 2 separate methods and braising liquids. On the first batch, I added some white onion and a Corona beer to a foil pan. I added the beef cheeks and foiled it tight. It was placed back on the smoker for another 2 hours.
The other method involved my crock pot. I added some onions and a cup of strong black coffee and a 1/2 cup of beef broth. Once in the crock pot, I turned it to low and let it go for 4 hours.
Both batches turned out a fantastic tasting hunk of meat. They were both fall apart tender and super flavorful. I took a few cheeks and sliced them thin and put them on a slider bun. Feel free to add some cheese, some Stubbs sauce or nothing at all. They are not lacking in the flavor department.
The other batch, I decided to pull with my meat rakes. You can also use a couple of forks to get the job done. You will not have to work hard to pull these apart.
Once you have them pulled, grab a few tortillas and warm them on the grill. Fill em up with the barbacoa, white onions, cilantro and a few squirts of fresh lime juice and you have a fantastic game day meal.
I gotta say that the pulled cheeks were my favorite and the ones braised in coffee were over the top. The coffee goes great with the cheek meat and added a nice flavor. I wish I had a little salsa verde for these. Oh well, next time.
These can be made ahead of time and warmed in the crockpot on game day or at your favorite tailgate. I’ve made these 3 times over the last month and am kinda forming an addiction to them. Let us know what you think and which method you prefer.