Barbacoa Beef Cheeks on Tostadas with Guacamole, Roasted Tomato Salsa, Sour Cream & Cheese by Pat Whelan and Katy McGuinness

Pat Whelan Theatre of Food

This dish has been created by Pat Whelan and Katy McGuinness for the Theatre of Food at the Electric Picnic 2015 with ingredients from Ardkeen Quality Foodstore."'Beef cheeks are one of our favourite cuts" says Pat. "The meat is intense, full of robust flavour and has a richness that is not at all cloying. Don’t be put off by what might seem like a bizarre combination of ingredients; this recipe is a cinch, and it takes very little time to prepare. The recipe serves four, but our recommendation is that you make a larger batch and invite over your friends to watch a match, have a few drinks and shoot the breeze. An Irish artisan cider such as Stonewell would go nicely."

Serves 4 | 1 hour prep | 36 hours slow cooking


  • 1 kg beef cheeks, trimmed
  • 1 ancho chilli
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or Irish rapeseed oil
  • 2 tablespoons Highbank apple syrup or maple syrup or honey
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 handful fresh coriander, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 limes
  • 250 ml chicken stock
  • 2 avocados, peeled and sliced
  • 2 spring onions or 1 a small red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • A small bunch of coriander, chopped (leaves and stalks)
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 4 plum tomatoes
  • 1 large jalapeno chilli
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 large tablespoon chopped coriander
  • 1 white onion, finely chopped
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 4 wraps or tortillas
  • Fresh coriander
  • Sour cream
  • Grated cheese


Barbacoa Beef Cheeks

Remove the stem and seeds from the ancho chilli, chop it roughly and put it in a little warm water for a few minutes to rehydrate.

Blend the chilli (and its water), garlic, peanut butter, espresso powder, 2 tablespoons of the oil, syrup, cumin, paprika, coriander and salt into a paste.

Marinate the beef cheeks in the paste for a few hours, preferably overnight, in the fridge.

Preheat the oven to 1400C / fan 1200C / gas mark 1.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a flameproof casserole dish and brown the cheeks on both sides.

Don’t move the cheeks around too much when you’re browning them — the less they move, the more colour and flavour they’ll pick up.

Pour the rest of the marinade into the pan with the stock, then squeeze in the juice of 3 limes.

Put the lid on and place in the oven for about 3ó hours, turning the cheeks once or twice while they cook. If the liquid dries up, add a little more stock.

By now the cheeks should be very tender. Pull them apart with two forks and mix with the juices in the pan. Add a squeeze of lime to taste, and a touch more syrup if you like.

Serve the barbacoa in a wrap or corn tortilla with guacamole or slices of avocado, roasted tomato salsa, sour cream, a sprinkling of fresh coriander and grated cheese.

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