Dave can sometimes be competitive – well let’s say like 99.9999999% of the time anyway. And sometimes I think it’s a good thing, but sometimes it’s kind of annoying, especially when he does it with silly, everyday things that really don’t warrant being competitive – like when we go to a restaurant, and he proclaims that he can make that dish better than they can – or when we take a leisurely bike ride to get ice cream like a mile down the street from our house, and he rides 50 feet in front of me doing all these fancy bike tricks while I sit back on my Huffy from 7th grade and roll my eyes. Stuff like that.
So Friday, we decided to try this new place in Allston called Lone Star Taco, being that it was Cinco de Mayo eve. And it was delicous! A very simple menu, with only 6 types of tacos to choose from, a few other side dishes, and a selection of Tequillas that would make your head spin. But one of the favorite flavors of taco that we got was the smoked brisket taco. Yum. And I made the mistake of saying “Ya know, I bet you could make this at home in the crock pot” and Dave went on to tell me that it was impossible, because smoking meat is completely different than cooking it in the crockpot, and you’d never be able to achieve the same flavor – wah wah wahhhhh. And so my competitive side came out and I said “I will accept that challenge”. And accept I did
Southwestern Pulled Brisket Tacos
*Adapted from The Smitten Kitchen
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 tsp red pepper flakes
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup dark Karo syrup
(you could also use brown sugar or molasses)
1) 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, about 10 minutes total. Transfer the meat to the slow cooker; leave the skillet on the heat.
2) 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.
3) Stir in water and pour the mixture over the brisket.
4) Crush the tomatoes through your fingers into the slow cooker; add the tomato juices, red pepper flakes, bay leaves, and karo syrup.
5) Cover the cooker, set it on LOW, and cook the brisket until it pulls apart easily with a fork, about 8 to 10 hours (my piece of brisket was only 2.5 lbs, so I did 8 hours)
6) After 8 hours, shred the beef. Strain the vegetables, etc. from the sauce and return to the crock pot. Return the shredded beef to the crock pot as well. Cook on low for another 2 hours or so (this will help the sauce infuse into the meat)
Pickled Red Onions
1/2 cup red wine vinegar 1/2 cup cold water
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 to 3 really good shots hot sauce (I used Frank’s)
1 red onion, sliced into very thin rings
1) In a small bowl, combine red wine vinegar with 1/2 cup of cold tap water.
2) Stir in salt, the sugar and the hot sauce.
3) Add the sliced onions and let sit for at least one hour.
*As with most things, the longer you let these ‘pickle’ the better!
You’ve waited a long time – GO EAT! As an added optional step, I took the sauce from the crockpot and let reduce for about 20 minutes over low heat in a saucepan and served the sauce with the tacos in addition to the picked onions. Just for some extra flavor.
So what’s the verdict you ask? Was my pulled brisket taco better than Lone Star’s? Well, let’s just say, that after 3 tacos, Dave said “we should definitely make that again” which = “Wow Kate, you were right – you CAN make it just as good in the crockpot” – I’m really good at reading minds
Hope everyone enjoyed their Cinco de Mayo weekend!