Before you actually get the cabeza (beef head), understand that it
won't look very nice -in fact it will look pretty gruesome.
Therefore, I suggest purchasing the thing the day you cook it.
In the Rio Grande Valley, barbacoa de cabeza is traditionally
eaten on Sunday mornings.
Clean the cabeza, removing eyes, ears, etc. Discard the tongue.
Leaving it will impart an odd taste to the meat. Sprinkle salt
and pepper over the whole cabeza. Wrap the cabeza in a paper sack,
along with onions, garlic, and cilantro. Wrap THAT in burlap.
Dig a hole 2 feet deep and build a driftwood fire in it. Wait until
the fire goes to coals, then cover them with ashes, followed by the
cabeza, then about 2 inches of dry dirt or sand. Fill up the hole.
Add 6 to 8 inches of dirt or sand over it. Build a fire on top of
the ground. Use slow-burning wood such as oak or mesquite.
Leave the cabeza in the hole 12 to 18 hours. For example, if you
begin cooking it at 4:00 p.m., it should be ready by the next
morning. Serve with tortillas.
If your spouse objects to the digging the hole in the backyard, then
wrap the cabeza in foil and bake it in an oven or over a charcoal
grill. Using foil in place of the paper bag keeps the cabeza slightly
moister while it it cooking. I also suggest not 'cleaning' the head
in the kitchen-tends to strain a marriage.
If you cannot get a fresh cabeza, use a large chuck roast (10-12 lbs.)
and follow the same directions. Not as 'tasty', but a good
substitute and less work to prepare.
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