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barbacoa

Pronunciation: [bar-bah-KOH-ah]

A traditional form of Mexican barbecue whereby meat is wrapped in fragrant leaves (such as maguey or banana) and cooked over hot coals in a covered pit in the ground. This slow cooking process both roasts and steams the meat while imparting a smoky quality. Pigs, goats and lambs are often cooked this way, and a specialty of northern Mexico called barbacoca de cabeza ("head") refers to a cow's head prepared in this manner.