Barbacoa Fries (Whole 30 Compliant)


When I was in college and traveled around the country most of every summer as part of my "work-study" scholarship, I began to see there was a much bigger world outside of my hometown. Because I view almost everything through the lens of food, I found myself jealous of those who learned their Nonna's Sunday gravy recipe at her hip, and my friends from Mexico who learned to make tamales with their Abuela. I found it so cool that my Chicagoan roommate brought back "Italian Beef" to our apartment after a trip home, which was a flavor trip after one too many French onion soup pot roasts, and then she introduced me to Chicago Style deep dish pizza on a trip to visit her family.  How does this all relate to these muy delicioso Barbacoa Fries? This whole realization got me thinking about what I, a born-and-raised suburban Texan could introduce to those who might visit me. My heritage reads like the UN and I grew up eating mostly fast food and processed food - kind of ironic that I now write about super healthy eating - so there weren't even any family recipes to give me a clue what I could claim as my food heritage. The only "cuisine" that seemed different and unique to Texas was Tex-Mex and I realized this cuisine really was the one thing I consistently missed more than anything else when I was away from home. I also realized that, heavily laden with cheese and fat, it wasn't exactly light so I relegated it to an enchilada dinner out every once in awhile. Since then as I have mentioned before, I have learned that true Mexican cuisine is light, veggie-filled and very flavorful. I now cook "True Mex" at home and only take visitors out for Tex-Mex (as in a visit to Joe T Garcias).

These Barbacoa Fries are definitely not true Mexican, in fact that are not even Tex-Mex. The barbacoa is, however, Mexican inspired (although I use neither a whole cow's head nor a hole in the ground) and it's about the closest I come to making any sort of pot roast at my house. Serving it over fries with pickled veggies and chipotle aioli just makes an awesome Whole 30 or Paleo treat (using sweet potatoes) when you need a break from meat with salads and roasted veggies. If you are not eating potatoes or sweet potatoes, feel free to make parsnip fries, jicama fries or any other alternative you prefer.

Barbacoa Fries
Author: Christi Flaherty
  • Barbacoa
  • 3 lbs chuck roast
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 onion sliced
  • 5 garlic cloves smashed
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp cumin
  • 3 ancho chiles or 2 tbsp ancho chile powder
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup chopped canned tomatoes (look for BPA free can)
  • Chipotle Aioli
  • 1 cup mayonnaise (Whole 30 compliant or homemade)
  • 1 tsp each chipotle powder, garlic powder and smoked paprika (if you are not on Whole 30 use a canned chipotle in place of spices)
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • sea salt to taste
  • Remaining Ingredients:
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • salt to taste
  • 2 lbs russet, yukon gold or sweet potatoes, cut into 1/2" thick pieces
  • 1 tbsp avocado oil
  • 4 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1 cup thinly sliced red pepper
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup thinly sliced, shaved or spiraled cucumber
  • 1 jalapeno, thinly sliced, optional
  • Chopped cilantro
For barbacoa:
  1. Place all ingredients in crock pot and cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4-5 hours or until easily shredded. Shred the meat, reserving juice and discarding any fat, sinew or bones. Toss with the reserved juice and warm just before serving with remaining ingredients.
Chipotle Aioli
  1. Whisk all ingredients together and season with salt. (If using canned chipotle, use a blender or food processor.)
Remaining Ingredients
  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Toss lime juice and red onion together and season liberally with salt. Let stand until onions turn dark pink.
  3. Toss potatoes with avocado oil and season with salt. Bake in a single layer in the preheated oven for 20-30 minutes or until the potatoes are blistered slightly and cooked all the way through.
  4. While the potatoes are baking, toss the vegetables together with some of the juice from the pickled onions and a little salt. Massage to make a slaw then drain off any extra liquid. Stir in 2 tbsp of the chipotle aioli.
  5. To serve: Layer the oven fries with barbacoa then top with slaw and pickled onions. Drizzle with aioli and sprinkle with cilantro.