Pronounced "bar-bah-COH-ah", Barbacoa is popular in Mexico and commonly involves the slow cooking of various parts of cows, goats, lamb or pork over a smoldering fire. On the Yucatan peninsula they prefer using pork, better known as "cochinita pibil", while in northern Mexico their choice of meat is lamb. The traditional Mexican way to eat barbacoa is to have it served on warm corn tortillas with salsa, guacamole, onions, cilantro and a squirt of lime juice (the basis of Tex-Mex tacos).
Our Barbacoa rub has a more savory flavor compared to Southern US BBQ spice blends and has nice mild-to-medium heat with undertones of cumin, onion and garlic.
Barbacoa is also known as Mexican barbecue.
This was one of my favorite blends to experiment with in our test kitchen at home. Now for me I just love the deep rich flavors of barbecue whether it's a nice beef brisket, a pork shoulder (also known as pork butt or Boston butt) or even some chicken drumsticks or pulled chicken. This Mexican flavored Barbacoa Rub is a nice addition to any barbecue lover's arsenal.
Etymologists believe that the word "barbecue" is derived from the Spanish word "barbacoa" which has its roots from the Taino word "barabicu". "Barabicu" was derived from "ba" which comes from the Taino word "baba" meaning father; "ra" from "yara" (meaning fire); "bi" from "bibi" (beginning); and "cu" from "guacu" (the sacred fire), the word "barabicu" is generally translated to mean "sacred fire pit".
Culinary historians believe the earliest practice in the art of barbecue originated hundreds of years ago on the island of Barbados, in the West Antilles of the Caribbean. Etymologists believe the word "barbados" can be traced back to Portuguese explorers who in the 1500s called the giant fig trees found on many of the Caribbean islands "Los Barbadoes" meaning "the bearded ones."
These same culinary historians credit the West Indies native Taino people, a subgroup of the South American Arawaks, with using fire-resistant, green fig branches for cooking. The Tainos seasoned foods in tropical herbs and spices to enhance the food's natural flavors and when combined with the "barabicu" cooking methods were superb at keeping their foods from prematurely spoiling. The Taino were wiped out by disease soon after the Spanish landed on their shores and brought with them "old world diseases" that the Taino were unable to combat. The closest modern day decedents to the Tainos would be the Haitians, Dominicans and Puerto Ricans.
The Spanish are likely responsible for introducing the barbacoa style of cooking to Mexico, where it still refers to meats slow-roasted over an open fire, or more traditionally, in a fire pit covered with succulent leaves of the maguey plant (also known as agave or century plant). Traditional Mexican barbacoa smokes and steams the meat at the same time resulting in a flavorful and moist meat.
About 15 miles northeast of Mexico City is the rural area of Texcoco (also referred to as Tezcoco), which is best known for its numerous small barbacoa restaurants and food stands serving this type of slow-cooked food. The region is generally recognized as the home of barbacoa in Mexico. While there are numerous types of barbacoa served there the regions signature dish is "barbacoa de borrego" (lamb barbecue).
While today even in Mexico traditions have fallen by the wayside to convenience and most barbacoa is now steamed or oven cooked. While it has the correct, falling-apart texture, it lacks the critical (to purists) kiss of smoke.
So what if you want to cook an authentic barbacoa? Well it may not be practical for the casual backyard griller or smoker but this is how it's traditionally done in Mexico. You have to build a barbecue pit which entails digging a rectangular hole that is about 2'W x 3'L and 3' deep (large enough to fit a whole pig). The walls of the pit should be lined with brick. This is often described by locals as an oven carved out of the earth.
The crucial part of the process is understanding that the best results are driven by mastering the balance between heat, smoke and steam. The steam is provided by a variety of liquids -- water or broth are the most common. The fire is built and burned down to the coals at which time the meat and broth are placed in the pit and sealed.
The both is often made from a large pot of water that contains carrots, chiles, grabanzo beans and onions which is referred to by some as "consomé de barbacoa". A grill is placed on top of the pot and the meat is then placed on top of it. The meat if usually wrapped in either banana or maguey leaves (agave leaves). The earth oven is then sealed with either a piece of sheet metal or a clay lid made to fit the pit. The rim of the "lid" is then covered with dampened dirt and packed to make an airtight seal.
It is not uncommon for the cooking process to last for 8-16 hours so naturally slow burning (green wood) has proven to be best in maintaining the critical temperatures to properly slow cook the meat.
When using this as a rub we always recommend using about 1 tablespoon per pound of meat whether its pork, beef or chicken.
We used this seasoning blend on a very flavorful Pulled Pork Barbacoa, which made its way to burritos, nachos and sandwiches. For an authentic flavor we used Barbacoa Rub on Chile Marinated Pork Oaxacan Style. We've even used it on grilled steak with rave reviews from friends and family.
Hand blended from chipotle, guajillo, onion, sea salt, black pepper, garlic, cinnamon, cumin, allspice, Mexican oregano and cloves.
Our Barbacoa Rub is not sweet like most barbecue rubs found in the US, but instead is a bit more savory, while packing a subtle backdrop of heat with undertones of cumin, onion and garlic.
Serving Size1 tsp
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value*