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Slow-Cooked Pork Barbacoa

When I worked at TWO Urban Licks in Atlanta, most of the crew was Hispanic. Every Saturday, one of the cooks would bring...
Slow-Cooked Pork Barbacoa

Slow-Cooked Pork Barbacoa

When I worked at TWO Urban Licks in Atlanta, most of the crew was Hispanic. Every Saturday, one of the cooks would bring in barbacoa tacos he bought from a guy named Manuel out on Buford Highway. Manuel sold these barbecued goat tacos right out of his apartment with a soccer game on in the background and his family milling about. This kind of Mexican barbecue isn’t smoky. It tastes more steamed because the meat is cooked in a pit in the ground. Everyone knows Mexican tacos can be dry, but Manuel’s were moist and juicy, with spices like clove, allspice, and cinnamon along with hot peppers. I loved them. I’ve stayed true to Manuel’s flavors here, but I use pork instead of goat, wrap it up in foil, and then bake it until it’s tender enough to shred. If you have a pit in your backyard, have at it. But the foil-and-oven method works great. The meat is delicious in tacos. — Kevin Gillespie, author of Pure Pork Awesomeness.


Instead of Boston butt, you could use the picnic part of the shoulder. Or use the whole shoulder if you have one. Just trim the fat down to 1/8-inch or so.

For a simple family meal, just serve the shredded meat in corn tortillas with rice and beans and whatever toppings you like — chopped onion, grated cheese, a squeeze of lime.

From Pure Pork Awesomeness: Totally Cookable Recipes from Around the World by Kevin Gillespie with David Joachim, Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC


  • 2 Tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 Tablespoon ancho chile powder (or other single chile powder, not a blend)
  • ½ Teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ Teaspoon ground cloves
  • 5 Pounds bone-in pork shoulder
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 10 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 3 dried bay leaves


Adjust the rack in the oven to a lower level so the roast will easily slide in.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small bowl, combine the salt, chile powder, cinnamon, and cloves. Pat the pork dry and generously season all over with the salt mixture. Cut a large piece (about 24 inches) of heavy-duty foil and place in a roasting pan. Add the roast, onions, garlic, and bay leaves and wrap everything up tightly in the foil. Roast for 3 ½ hours.

Remove from the oven and let rest, still wrapped in the foil, for 30 minutes.

The foil will keep all the moisture and flavors in the packet and the shoulder will braise as it cools, creating very tender and juicy meat. Discard the onion, garlic, and bay leaves before shredding the meat.