I dined solo at Jacob’s Pickles a week ago and ordered 8 (yes, 8) various pickled delicacies. I also ordered a beer, mussels and fries, a side of collard greens, and a cup of coffee. I quite proudly tell you I had no problem polishing off that meal, except that I failed to finish all those pickled vegetables. No problem, I could take them home and snack on them, but what about those pickled jalapenos? Hm….I decided they would go wonderfully with a good pulled pork taco. So, I searched the web for a good recipe and of course, as usual, stumbled upon a recipe for something even better on smittenkitchen.com – pulled brisket tacos. Luckily, I had some brisket in the freezer. The other ingredients are pretty basic and I had them in my pantry and fridge. After a quick trip to my favorite local Mexican grocery store for flour tortillas, I was ready to go. The best part? I made this in the morning in the slow cooker so dinner was ready with no prep from me at night other than warming those flour tortillas over the gas burner. So, at 7:30 there was nothing for me to do other than munch on delicious tacos while warming to the sound of my husband asking me if it would be wrong if he had a fifth taco. No, that would be so right, my dear.
Serves 4, says the recipe: (from Smittenkitchen.com (with tweeks))
3 pounds beef brisket
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
5 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 Spanish onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups water
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, with their juices
1 to 2 whole canned chipotle chiles en adobo or a pinch of red pepper flakes
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup molasses
Small flour tortillas along with pickled onions and/or pickled jalapeños (or any other pickled finds from Jacob’s Pickles)
Season the beef generously with salt and pepper. Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil and heat just until beginning to smoke. Add the meat and cook, turning once, until browned on both sides, about 10 minutes total. Transfer the meat to the slow cooker; leave the skillet on the heat.
Add garlic, onion, chili powder, coriander, and cumin to drippings in the skillet and stir until fragrant, about one minute. Add vinegar and boil until it’s almost gone, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Stir in water and pour the mixture over the brisket. Crush the tomatoes through your fingers into the slow cooker; add the tomato juices, chipotles or red pepper flakes, bay leaves, and molasses. Cover the cooker, set it on LOW, and cook the brisket until it pulls apart easily with a fork, about 8 to 10 hours. (mine required 10 hours).
To serve, you’ve got two options: Leave the meat in the slow cooker and use two forks to pull it apart and stir it evenly into the sauce; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Remove and discard bay leaves. This is the easy route.
Or, to make the sauce a little more thick and delicious, remove the meat to a plate and pour the liquid and vegetables through a colander or cone while pushing the vegetables against the holes to extract all that yummy flavor. Discard any leftover solids in the colander. Simmer liquid in a pan down to about 2/3 volume to thicken. Pour over the brisket as you pull it and save some to pour over the taco.