How Hispanic foods make an impact, from barbacoa to birria

(BPT) – Hispanic contributions to the U.S., including the unique art, music, talent, innovation — and food, have enriched the American experience.

These vital cultural influences come from regions spanning Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean and Spain itself. Possibly the most impactful influence from Hispanic culture centers on food. American food culture is invigorated by these exciting inspirations.

Hispanic foods make an impact, from barbacoa to birria

Traditional foods with Hispanic roots are as diverse and varied as the people themselves, with many dishes adapted from place to place to showcase local ingredients — or reflect cultural and regional differences.

To raise awareness of Hispanic culinary contributions, Rumba Meats, a brand focused on delivering authentic Hispanic meat products, is partnering with Latino food and lifestyle influencers to share their recipes and stories behind the flavors Hispanic culture has contributed to the U.S.


A favorite of Instagram influencer Saraa Franco, this traditional dish dates back to pre-Hispanic times. The Mayans developed this technique of cooking meat wrapped in agave leaves in a hole in the ground. Spanish explorers brought barbacoa north from the Caribbean into the present-day U.S. in the 16th and 17th centuries, and “barbecue,” as it’s known, has only gotten more popular in the last 500 years.

“There are lots of places in the U.S. where you can find really good barbacoa tacos,” said Franco. “Or you can learn how to make barbacoa yourself.”

Franco makes barbacoa using Rumba Meats beef cheek. “There’s something so special about food that reminds me of my childhood,” said Franco. “Waking up in my grandfather’s rancho, the smell of coffee, homemade tortillas — and barbacoa being prepared so we could all have breakfast as a family.”


Birria is easily one of the greatest, most widely appreciated foods that Hispanic culture has contributed to America. This traditional Mexican stew originated in Jalisco, Mexico, where it was made with goat meat. Today, in the U.S., birria is made with other meats. Lifestyle influencer Petia Mitchell uses Rumba Meats beef cheek in her birria recipe. Teresa Barajas, whose grandfather had a birria stand in Jalisco, uses hind shank and marrow bones.

In fact, birria has undergone lots of popular adaptations. It’s having a moment in the U.S. as Quesabirria, a taco variation on the dish, became a social media hit.

However you make it, birria is a savory, satisfying, time-honored treasure that fosters inventiveness and experimentation.

Birria recipe from Petia Mitchell

Servings: 4 (stew) or 10 (tacos); Prep time: 30 minutes; Cook time: 11 hours


1 package (about 2 pounds) Rumba Meats Beef Cheekmeat
2 teaspoons beef bouillon powder
1 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
1 teaspoon granulated garlic powder
3 cups water
2 bay leaves

Chile Sauce

5 dried California chiles
6 dried Morita chiles (or chipotle peppers in sauce)
4 cloves garlic
1/3 cup oil
2 cups water, reserve 1 cup
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
1 teaspoon cumin
1/3 teaspoon Mexican cinnamon
1/3 teaspoon ground clove
6-8 peppercorns
2 teaspoons beef bouillon powder


1. Place all ingredients into slow cooker and cook on low overnight. Remove beef from broth. Strain broth and reserve.
2. Meanwhile, make Chile Sauce. Remove stems and seeds from dried chiles. Add chiles, garlic and oil to small saucepan and heat on medium/low. Once chiles begin to soften in oil, add 1 cup water. Simmer 10 minutes.
3. In blender add chiles, garlic, 1 cup water and 1 cup cooking liquid from meat. Add remaining ingredients listed for sauce. Blend on high 30 seconds. Strain sauce through mesh strainer, removing large pieces.
4. Add strained chili sauce and one tablespoon oil to large saucepan, then simmer 5 minutes. Add beef broth from slow cooker plus 1 more cup of beef broth. Cook 15 minutes.
5. Add beef cheekmeat to simmering saucepan and cook another 20-30 minutes.
Enjoy with rice or in tortillas. Top with onions, cilantro and lime juice.

How to learn more

To inspire a new generation of Hispanic leaders, Rumba Meats is partnering with the U.S. Hispanic Leadership Institute (USHLI), providing scholarships to U.S. Hispanic high school seniors.

For stories about Hispanic contributions, ways to celebrate and recipe inspiration, visit