Have you ever heard of a taco truck? Eric and I had heard about ones in places like Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York. Imagine our surprise when we moved to Richmond and discovered that there is one here and that it has seriously awesome tacos. These aren’t just any tacos – they’re fusion tacos, combining different cuisines and flavors. When I tried them for the first time, I was a little nervous about slaw being on the tacos. However, it turned out to be one of the best combinations I’ve ever had. This recipe is a sort of play on that.
The brisket is melt-in-your-mouth tender, bursting with tons of southwest flavors. Not to mention, it is a breeze to make. All you have to do is season and sear the meat, then slow cooker does the rest. The brisket is delicious on its own, but the addition of the chipotle slaw really takes this meal to another level. It’s smoky, spicy, a little sweet and goes perfectly with the brisket. This does make quite a bit of food, especially if you’re only cooking for two, but the leftovers taste just as delicious.
I highly recommend having all the ingredients for the brisket prepped and ready before you start cooking (a technique called mise en place). I’m not great about always doing that when I cook, but I knew I would have to with this one as soon as I read the recipe. It moves very quickly, and you don’t want to be measuring out spices or vinegar while your garlic is in the skillet about to burn. If you take the time to prep ahead of time, this recipe will go much more smoothly.
Southwestern Brisket Tacos
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 (I could only find 28-ounce cans of whole tomatoes and just used half a can.)
1 to 2 whole canned chipotle chiles in adobo (I got plenty of flavor from using just one, but use two if you like it spicy.)
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup molasses
Corn or flour tortillas
Chipotle Slaw, recipe follows
-Generously season the beef with salt and pepper, to taste.
-Heat oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat until just beginning to smoke.
-Add the meat and sear about 5 minutes each side, turning only once.
-Transfer meat to slow cooker, leaving skillet on the heat.
-Add garlic, onion, chili powder, coriander and cumin to the drippings in skillet and stir until fragrant, about one minute.
-Add vinegar and allow to boil until it’s almost gone, scraping the bottom of the skillet to get up the little bits.
-Stir in water and pour mixture over brisket.
-Crush tomatoes through your fingers into the slow cooker; add juices, chipotle, bay leaves and molasses.
-Cover the slow cooker and set it on low heat. Cook for 8-10 hours, until fork tender.
-To serve, you can take the easy route and simply pull the beef apart with two forks and stir into the sauce, discarding the bay leaves.
-If you don’t mind doing a little more work, strain the sauce to remove the vegetables and bay leaves. Skim the fat and place the sauce into a small saucepan. Simmer to reduce and thicken just a bit. Add back to pulled brisket and stir to thoroughly coat brisket with sauce.
-To serve, heat the tortillas. Add brisket and top with Chipotle Slaw.
Serves 6-8, depending on how much you stuff the tacos
2 teaspoons finely chopped canned chipotles in adobo
1/2 cup mayonaise
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/2 pound (about 2 cups) shredded white cabbage
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
-Combine chipotle, mayonaise, honey and lime juice in a large bowl. Add cabbage and onions, tossing to coat. Add salt and pepper to taste.
-Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Adapted from Emeril Lagasse