Slow Braised Barbacoa with Cucumber Avocado Salsa

slow braised barbacoa with cucumber avocado salsa I’ve been trying to write this post for at least a week.  I’d like to think my days are so filled with exciting and essential work, of momentous proportions, that I had to continuously delay this post.

Nope.  Just my beautiful life.  Work, family, chasing chicken gals who escape their chicken yard, chasing Tank down the street because he thinks he’s a hunting dog (I do a lot of chasing), making the 20 weekly trips to the market ( I exaggerate a bit, but not by much) and the mountain of test recipes that go awry and end up in the garbage.  Or in Tanks food bowl.

Slow Braised Barbacoa with Cucumber Avocado Salsa

Slow Braised Barbacoa with Cucumber Avocado Salsa

Thankfully, one recipe that didn’t go awry was this beautiful slow braised beef.  Barbacoa is the Mexican version of our barbecue.  Slow braised, lightly spiced and scented with earthy, smoky flavors of unsweetened cocoa and chipotle chili powder.  Topped with spring shades of green cucumber and avocado salsa that balances the rich and decadent dish with bright and refreshing flavors.

Just a little sunshine on the palate while waiting for the summer sun.

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


Slow Braised Barbacoa with Cucumber Avocado Salsa

Serves 6-8


3 lbs Beef Brisket

Vegetable oil

Salt and pepper

1 tablespoon unsweetened Cocoa

½ heaping teaspoon chipotle chili powder

1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano (or Italian)

½ cup tomato sauce

1 cup red wine (or 1 cup beef broth with 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar)

1 white onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, smashed

1 cup water, reserved

To Serve:

Corn tortillas

Crumbled Cotija cheese

Cucumber Avocado Salsa (recipe below)


In a small bowl mix together the unsweetened cocoa, chipotle chili powder, dried oregano and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Set aside.

Heat the oven to 325F.  Heat a Dutch Oven with a tablespoon or two of oil over medium high heat.  Season the brisket with salt and pepper and brown on both sides.

Once the brisket is browned, transfer to a dish and turn the heat down to medium.  Add the onions and sauté until wilted.

Then stir in the garlic, tomato sauce, wine or broth and seasonings.  Add the brisket back into the Dutch oven tossing to coat in the sauce and bring the mixture back to a lively simmer.

Place the Dutch oven in the pre-heated oven and let it cook for about 1 ½ – 2 hours, until the brisket is fork tender.  After about 45 minutes of cook time, check for liquids.  If the pot seems to dry add about ½ cup water to the brisket.  Adding the full cup if needed.

Once the brisket is done, shred for tacos.  Serve with corn tortillas, cotija cheese and Cucumber Avocado Salsa.

Cucumber Avocado Salsa

1 cucumber, small dice

1 avocado, small dice (I use an avocado that isn’t overly ripe)

Handful of cilantro, chopped

Squeeze of lime juice

Salt to taste

Gently toss the cucumber, avocado, cilantro and lime juice together.  Season to taste with salt.

For another fabulous Barbacoa recipe check out



  1. The wine, cocoa powder and chipotle are almost more than I can handle! Such amazing flavors here. I had to chuckle as I imagined you chasing Tank down the street! Happy weekend to you! xo

    • They were almost more than i could handle Kelley! LOL! And yes, I probably make the trek down the street once a week. In fact, when my neighbors hear me hollering his name, they come out to help me round him up. Embarrassing! I must be known on the street as the lady whose always chasing her dog. Happy weekend to you my sweet friend!!

  2. Oh my, this brisket and those ingredients are absolutely delish and perfect to make any day of the week. Thanks for this recipe.

  3. Looks amazing. The picture is awesome. I like how you used Cotija cheese. I have not tried it yet but was at a restaurant in NYC a few weeks ago where the manager was telling my friend that is what made his taco so good.

  4. This is pleasure in a bowl, or should I say inside a taco. Amazing

    • Thanks Kathy! It’s a bit richer than most my taco fillings, but the cucumber avocado salsa lightens it up a bit. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  5. Absolutely gorgeous Karista- my favorite kind of food!

  6. The chaos sounds somewhat familiar:) And this is simply gorgeous! Such a flavorful meal and a great transition between the seasons.

    • Absolutely. Any excuse to dine on Mexican food. Right? LOL! Mexican cuisine is truly one of my favorites. It makes a cold spring evening feel like a warm summer day. 🙂

  7. This looks absolutely delicious!

  8. Never had this… now want it – great stuff, Karista. On the list with it!

  9. Mmmm. The chipotle and the cocoa in these sounds so wonderful. This is one I will bookmark to try for sure, Karista! I think tonight, as we have had a short burst of warm spring weather here, I may be making your chicken burgers again! Happy Sunday. ~Betsy

    • Most of the Barbacoa I’ve tasted was prepared with coffee grounds. But I like dark cocoa. 🙂 So I thought why not? Probably not terribly authentic but I thought it was delish. I haven’t made the chicken burgers in ages… I’ll have to put that on the menu next week. I feel terrible I haven’t stopped by your blog in forever. I’ll jaunt over there now. Hugs to ya!

  10. I know the feeling — sometimes the posts take a little longer to come to life. I’ve had one where I rewrote it over and over again over the span of a week and then one night, I just wrote it out and erased all the work from the prior week — it just happens. This recipe sounds wonderful — have never tried making barbacoa but I would love to one day soon. Delicious as always!

    • Thanks Danny. I have moments when I’m cooking and snapping photographs effortlessly and then I sit down to write about them and… nothing. LOL! Just lots going on in my life at the moment which must be taking up space in my brain. Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

  11. I adore tacos like this…have been contemplating making my own tortillas. Do you have a recipe you like for that?

    • Oh I love homemade tortillas. Unfortunately I don’t have a recipe that I love. Although, I was browsing friends blog over at Muy Bueno Cookbook and I think they’ve got an excellent recipe. Happy Monday!

  12. Another great recipe for the slow cooker. I’m stockpiling them for when I start back at work full time. I’m loving the cuc-avocado salsa too. You always hit me with new, simple and totally yummy ideas.
    Life seems to keep you in good shape! x wendy

    • Thanks Wendy! You’d think I’d be skinny with all the running around and activity level of most my days. LOL! I too love the cucumber avocado salsa. On most everything. Love it on grilled salmon too. Hope you’re having a blast in NYC 🙂

  13. While I totally understand the busy days, and yours are way busier than mine I know, you seem to do it all with a smile and unflappable grace. I’m in awe of your abilities.. 🙂 This recipe looks so delicious and we haven’t had tacos in a long while. Can’t wait to try them!

    • Thank you Maria for your vote of confidence! I’d like to think I do it all with unflappable grace but my family knows better. LOL!! Hope you and the family enjoy the recipe. Hugs!

  14. Oh yes! This sounds delicious…a dish that can be enjoyed no matter the season.

  15. This is just the kind of meal I am craving right now Karista! I wonder if it would work in the slow cooker?

    • Alyssa I think the slow cooker would work well. Just know that the slow cooker will add more liquid to the dish versus the Dutch oven. You will want to reduce the liquid once the brisket is done. And then add some of it to the shredded meat for flavor and moisture. Happy Cooking!!

  16. This looks delicious – and I love the combination of flavors – the barbacoa with cucumber and cilantro. I just love Mexican food —-

  17. It was worth waiting for – that sounds wonderful.
    Enjoy the loving chaos while you have it…the house gets very quiet once they grow up. 🙂

  18. How I wish I could get chipotle powder here 🙂

  19. I too keep delaying my next post but for me it is that I can’t get going full steam since our vacation down south. It sounds like you have many masters in your house to keep you busy. Your barbacoa recipe sounds heavenly–especially topped off with your creative cucumber avocado salsa! Why haven’t I made barbacoa before? Must fix that!

    • I’ll have to head over to your blog and read about that vaca! I feel I’ve been quite tardy keeping up with my fave food blogs. I’m sure before long you will have a perfectly delicious post. Happy Weekend!!

  20. I sometimes have the same kind of weeks. I also have my creative weeks in the kitchen and then I get in a rut. It sounds like you are back to your creative surges again this beautiful savory dish. I especially like the cucumber salsa.

    • I’m not sure I’m having a creative surge but possibly a tasty one. 🙂 My creative surge, a dessert I was working on, ended up in the garbage. Back to the drawing board. LOL!

  21. Karista! Your life sounds wonderfully full, blissfully chaotic, and full of love 🙂 Many continued blessings to you! Thanks for sharing — we eat tacos at least twice a week. Love them! XO

    • Thank you Shira. I do feel very blessed. Tacos are one of our fave meals. We fill them with all sorts of things as I’m sure you do as well. Happy Weekend!


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