Living in Texas means access to great barbacoa tacos every Saturday for my family. My wife introduced me to smoked beef cheeks years ago in a "hole in the wall" mexican restaurant in our hometown. I got to know the owners well and they shared their secrets with me.
I want to incorporate smoke into all of my dishes, so I decided I would smoked the beef cheeks before the traditional braise. Fortunately it doesn't take long for these cheeks in the smoker. Also, the braising element gives you a lot of flexibility. While the braise should only take 4-5 hours, you can "hold" this meat in the hot liquid for hours until you are ready to eat.
- 1 package fresh beef cheek (typically 3 lbs)
- Meat Church Holy Cow BBQ seasoning
- 18 oz beef stock (substitute broth)
- 1 head of garlic, rough chopped
- 1 white onion, chopped
- ½ steam pan
- Aluminum foil
- Instant Read Thermometer
- Taco ingredients
- Corn tortillas
- 1 bundle cilantro, chopped
- 1 small white onion, chopped
Prepare your smoker
Prepare your smoker at a temperature of 275. We recommend a heaver smoking wood or pellet such as oak, mesquite or hickory.
Trim the fat off of the beef cheeks to your liking. Some folks like to smoke the cheeks as is for the added flavor of the fat and remove it later, but I prefer to remove it in advance to ensure a more pleasant bite in our tacos. You decide how much fat you want to trim. Season the trimmed cheeks moderately with Meat Church Holy Cow BBQ seasoning. Allow to adhere for at least 15 minutes.
Smoke the cheeks
Place the cheeks in the smoker for 2 - 2.5 hours. No spritzing or anything is required. We just want a good heavy smoke. The final internal temperature should be at least 160 degrees internal temperature (using your Instant Read thermometer) when you decide to pull the cheeks from the smoker.
After the cheeks have achieved a great color place them in the ½ steam pan. Mix the braising liquid (beef stock), garlic & onions and pour over the cheeks in the pan. You are not looking to cover the cheeks with liquid. Just put an inch or so of liquid in the pan. Return the pan to the smoker for 4-5 hours. Flip one time during the cook. Smoke until the cheeks are for tender.
Pro tip – if you want to smoke these overnight, then drop your smoker to 200 degrees, cover with foil and check back the next morning.
Serve on fresh, corn tortillas. Top with cilantro & onions. Optional cotija cheese & fresh limes. Enjoy!