Traditional Mexican and Tex-Mex Barbecue – It’s Not Barbecue But It’s Close, With a Few Twists

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Barbecue is extremely popular in many parts of Mexico and the United States. States near the border know barbecue as a delicious meat item, available only on weekends as a special Sunday breakfast meal. Others eat barbecue regularly, enjoying it at any time or any day.

So what exactly is barbecue? It is not “barbacoa” in Spanish, as many believe. In central Mexico, it means goat or lamb meat wrapped in large leaves and roasted over hot coals. In Texas, Mexican ranchers used cattle for this roasting method. Basically, they wrapped the heads in the leaves (later it was aluminum foil) and buried them in the ground with hot coals. Restaurants had even adopted similar methods of cooking these heads (heads).

Over the years, restaurants had to stop burying heads due to health codes. Now, they roast and steam the heads in ovens, which has actually been beneficial for restaurants. A much larger group of fans have liked this type of cooking method.

To cook authentic barbecue at home, you will need a very good relationship with your butcher or slaughterhouse manager. But lucky for you, a cow’s head is often thrown away in many parts of the United States. Your relationship with your butcher will prevent this and allow you to buy the heads at very low prices, or even free in some cases.

So once you’ve secured a good source of cattle, how will you cook this at home? One of the best methods for cooking a cow’s head for barbecue is to steam it or roast it on a large electric turkey roaster. It works perfectly and will produce one of the best barbecues since the “bury in the ground” era.

Follow these techniques for perfect barbecue results. This will make about 2 pounds of meat, or enough to feed 6 to 8 hungry breakfast diners. Now feel free to use these techniques. He will do this because of his love of interesting foods, and barbecue is just one of them.


A 20- to 25-pound cow’s head, skinned and cleaned
1 cup dry dressing (recipe follows)
2 onions, cut in half
18″ heavy duty foil

Rinse the head well with a hose. Cut out the tongue (if it’s still there) and save it for another interesting meal. Sprinkle dry dressing all over head and place, forehead down, in an 18-quart toaster. If it doesn’t fit well, tilt it to fit.

Add 8 cups of water and the onions, then cover. If the lid of the spit does not fit, place two sheets of wide aluminum foil over the top of the spit and seal it.

Turn on the roaster oven to 350 degrees F. and heat for about an hour, until the water comes to a rapid boil. Reduce the heat to 250 degrees and let the head steam for about 12 hours or overnight. The cheek meat should easily come off the bone when done. At this time, remove all the meat and discard the jaw bones. You will then find another large piece of meat inside. Remove that meat and any other meat still attached to the bones.

Trim off any excess fat, gristle, or blackened meat, but don’t over-clean the meat. It’s the little bits of fat that give the barbecue its unique texture.

Chop the meat and put it in a bowl. Moisten it with a little of the cooking liquid to keep it moist. Serve immediately as a filling for hot flour or corn tortillas. Garnish with your choice of items below, or add your own.

Dry Rub Recipe:

3 tablespoons of salt
1/4 cup chili powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion

Mix all the ingredients together.


lime quarters
chopped onion
fresh cilantro, chopped
your favorite sauce

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