Turkey Barbacoa Tacos with Black Beans

 by Cindi SutterFounder of The Spirited Table® - Recipe from bon appetit by Bernardo Bukantz, Luis Serdio, and Roderigo Chávez

Photograph by Peden + Munk

Photograph by Peden + Munk

Turkey Barbacoa Tacos With Black Beans
Authentic barbacoa is a daylong event involving a whole animal and an underground fire pit. This take is easier and totally delicious.

Servings: 8
        2 Tbsp sesame seeds
        1½ lb plum tomatoes
        10 garlic cloves, unpeeled
        3 medium onions, unpeeled, halved through root, divided
        6 ancho chiles, seeds removed
        2 Tbsp kosher salt, divided, plus more
        4 turkey drumsticks
        1 16 oz package banana leaves, thawed if frozen
        2¼ cups dried black beans, soaked overnight
        2 medium carrots, halved crosswise
        2 celery stalks, halved crosswise
        2 tsp ground cumin
        Freshly ground black pepper
        24 corn tortillas, warmed
        Salsa de Chile Morita (click for recipe) and queso fresco or dry farmer cheese (for serving)


  1. Toast sesame seeds in a dry large skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium heat, stirring, until golden, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a blender.
  2. Place skillet over medium-high heat and add tomatoes, garlic, and 4 onion halves and cook, turning often, until softened and charred in spots, 5−8 minutes. Transfer tomatoes to blender; set onions and garlic aside.
  3. Cook chiles in same skillet, turning often, until darkened and fragrant, about 1 minute. Add to blender. Once cool enough to handle, peel garlic and onion and add to blender along with 1 Tbsp. salt. Blend until smooth.
  4. Divide drumsticks between 2 resealable plastic bags. Add tomato purée, dividing evenly. Seal bags, pressing out air, and toss to coat. Chill at least 12 hours.
  5. Preheat oven to 325°. Line a large roasting pan with banana leaves, then individually wrap drumsticks with the marinade (use all of it) in banana leaves; place in pan. Cover with any remaining leaves, then cover pan tightly with foil. Bake until meat is very tender and falling off the bone (tear into packets with a fork to check), 2−2½ hours. Let cool slightly.
  6. Meanwhile, drain beans and combine with carrots, celery, cumin, and remaining onion halves in a large pot. Add water to cover by 2”; season generously with pepper. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook, partially covered, seasoning with salt halfway through, until beans are tender, 80−90 minutes. Pluck out carrots, celery, and onion.
  7. Transfer drumsticks and any marinade to a large bowl; discard banana leaves.
  8. Pour turkey cooking liquid from roasting pan into a large glass measuring cup; season sauce with salt.
  9. Scrape off cooked marinade from turkey legs, then shred meat into bite-size pieces; discard skin, bones, and sinews. Combine shredded meat with marinade; season with salt if needed.
  10. Serve turkey with tortillas, salsa, queso fresco, and small cups of sauce. Serve beans with some of their liquid.