Sunday, January 3, 2010

What I Made for Dinner: January 3, 2010

Pulled brisket tacos.

Smitten Kitchen just made this slow-cooker brisket and it seemed like a good idea for today, so cold and snowy it was almost impossible to get out from under the blankets this morning.  I usually don't like brisket.  But we have several briskets and similar pot-roast kinds of cuts that came with the quarter-beef we bought to stock our freezer, so we have to eat 'em and I'm always looking for new recipes to try.  Recipes that maybe I won't hate.

This recipe was surprisingly delicious.  And serving the meat in tacos hides the texture, which is always my primary objection to brisket.  I will be making it again.  I made a couple of changes to Smitten's recipe.  First off, the name:  She calls it "Southwestern" pulled brisket, but to me there's nothing particularly southwestern about the recipe, save a single chipotle pepper.  Second, she strains the cooking liquid and discards the vegetables--to me, a waste of good onions and tomatoes.  Instead, I pureed the veggies in the leftover cooking liquid and it made a fantastic sauce for the tacos.

Pulled brisket tacos (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

3 pounds beef brisket
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 sweet onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup apple juice
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 dried chipotle chile
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup brown sugar

Season the beef generously with salt and pepper, to taste. 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. 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 the onion begins to soften. Add vinegar and boil until it’s almost gone, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Stir in water and apple juice; pour the mixture over the brisket.  Add the tomatoes and remaining ingredients. Slow-cook the brisket on low, 8-10 hours. 

Remove the finished brisket to a cutting board.  From the cooking liquid, remove the chipotle pepper and bay leaves and discard.  Transfer the rest of the slow-cooker's contents to a large saucepan.  Using a hand-held stick blender, puree the liquid (alternatively, puree it in a blender).  Bring it to a boil, reduce the heat slightly, and simmer until reduced to desired thickness.  Shred the brisket with two forks.  Serve in small soft tortillas with sauce and diced bell peppers and tomatoes.

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