MGoBBQ: Barbacoa

Submitted by Seth on September 29th, 2016 at 12:00 PM


[Ed-Seth: We have the great pleasure of employing the services and serving utensils of the original barbecuing bloggerati Joe Pichey of GoBlueBBQ to write recipes for our most delicious sponsor, Stubb's BBQ sauce. It doesn’t come in plastic bottles. It is not ketchup. Nine of ten doctors say “daaaaaamn”.]



Since moving down here to Texas, I have discovered a few things:

  1. I do not look good in a cowboy hat.
  2. How much I miss a great game of pond hockey
  3. The GREATNESS of beef cheeks.

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, which is a basically a form of cooking meat until it’s 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.


  • Beef Cheeks
    Stubbs Beef Rub
    Tortillas (Corn or Flour)
    Beer or Coffee and beef broth

[Hit the JUMP if you dare but remember you are not supposed to eat your monitor.]


I found a pack of beef cheeks at my local Sam’s Club and immediately loaded the cart. These 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 beer or two and 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 Stubb’s 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.


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 three-hour mark. Once they reach 180, it’s time for the beer or coffee bath. It’s up to you.

I ran two batches over the weekend, and tried two 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. Yeah, I broke down and tossed a few in the crock pot.  I added some onions and a cup of strong black coffee and a 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 me know what you think and which method you prefer, This might also work with a big ‘ol hunk of badger meat.  Go Blue!



September 29th, 2016 at 1:04 PM ^

Yes, I do agree on that for sure.

If you like carnitas and chorizo, try campechana (carne asada, chorizo, and sometimes carnitas all mixed up in a soft corn tortilla). Ohhhh man, I'm making myself really hungry now.


September 29th, 2016 at 12:24 PM ^

I went to the gobluebbq website to see where you get a lot of the stuff you use and it seems like the "my toys' section is out of date.  You have an updated list or where you went to get michigan themed bbq stuff? and which big green egg size setup you have?  Thanks in advance.


September 29th, 2016 at 2:48 PM ^

I have really been slacking on the website updates. Damn work.  I am working on a new site and will hopefully have it up and running soon.  If there is anyone out there that wants to help design a great site, let me know. I could use some help! :)

I currently jave a large and a Mini Max in the Egg set up.  I also have a WSM 22.5 and a Weber Kettle.





September 29th, 2016 at 3:07 PM ^

Thanks! and work is just the worst in getting of the way of things. With the holiday season coming up I thought the girlfriends dad might appreciate some michigan themed grilling stuff so was just wondering.  Love the recipes.


September 29th, 2016 at 12:46 PM ^

Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. Barbacoa taco's are my favorite. There used to be a taco truck locally that always had it, and Brisket taco's. Both were great, but you can't beat braised beef cheeks.

I'm not sure how to feel about using Stubbs on these though...


September 29th, 2016 at 1:17 PM ^

But get yo' self an egg, young man. I got one from my father-in-law and, hot damn, that thing is amazing. It's super reponsive to the heat controls, and other than the grate needing replaced (I left the cover off once when it rained....ugh) I have enjoyed it.

Question for the BBQ elites out there: how do you light your grill? I used a chimney filled with charcoal, then I use two Webber Fire-starter cubes to get the coals going. I have found this is the absolute best and quickest way to get a grill going (especially when I am just doing Steaks or Burgers after work); the grill is ready to go in 1/2 an hour (give or take, depending on how hot I want it). 


September 29th, 2016 at 2:43 PM ^

I was a chimney guy until I discovered the LOOFTLIGHTER.  For the egg, there is nothing better. You can get it on Amazon or check out their site at for local dealers.  Big Green Egg also makes one called the EGGnighter and it works great.  Since I am cooking with Richard Looft (The owner) of the LOOFTLIGHTER in Atlanta next weekend at EGGFEST, I say we promote his stuff.  :)  It really is GREATNESS!!!! You'll be up and running in 10 minutes.







September 30th, 2016 at 10:29 AM ^

Thanks Scruffy, we just bought our first house and moved in about a month ago. Getting a grill is one of our first pirorites. We were looking at getting a Traeger grill, or a simple webber traditional charcoal grill. I would love an egg. But those are not cheap. I really would prefer one though as I don't want to be stuck with only smoking. Also there is a pizza rack for the egg, and I love brick oven pizza. But still... $$$$. 


September 30th, 2016 at 5:12 PM ^

The ability to make brick oven pizzas in the egg makes it worth it.  I love my Weber and hear great things about the Traeger and even the REC TEC grills, but the egg is a lifelong investment as long as you keep it up. I did a pizza in 4 minutes the other night that was better than any pizza shop I've been to.  Just my opinion.  :)

Go Blue!