A rough translation of "barbacoa" into English would be "barbecue" but there really isn't all that much in common with the fiesta I attended a few weeks in ago in Mexico with your average American weenie roast. To start off, the barbacoa was at my friends' ex-hacienda where I seem to have more and more fun these days. The intent of the party was to welcome the visiting chefs from Mexico City who had made the journey to meet with, and learn from, chefs from the Yucatan. While the food from the Yucatan was being prepared, Hidalgo natives Gabriel and Antonio made a traditional barbacoa in their own style.
The materials are gathered.
Gabriel got up at 5:30 a.m. to prep the pit. I got on the scene at about 7:30 a.m. and the fellows were roasting maguey leaves on the hot fire.
In the kitchen, a large galvanized steel bucket holds garbanzos, onion, garlic, carrots and celery, topped off with water. This will come to play in a minute.
Back outside, Gabriel finished trimming the cow's head and ribs.
Gabriel and Antonio slowly lower the bucket with the garbanzos into the pit, right on top of the hot coals.
Gabriel (you notice he's doing most of the work!) slowly adds the roasted maguey leaves around the pit and allows them to fan out, like a flower.
A grill is added to the top of the bucket with the garbanzos.
Gabriel adds the cow's head and ribs, which doesn't fall into the bucket because of the grill.
One by one, he doubles the leaves over to cover the pit.
He adds more on top for good measure.
The entire pit is covered by dirt. There's a Tyvek tarp over the leaves and under the dirt.
Antonio adds some water to the top of the mound. This is really to keep the dust down more than anything. And it lets Antonio brag that he helped!
Another fire on top, just for good measure.
While the barbacoa cooks, I strolled around the place and fell in love all over. It's an incredible location.
My little dream shack!
Next time: Umwrapping and eating the barbacoa.