Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Southwestern Pulled Beef Brisket

There is a 5 cup Tupperware in my freezer right now full of this shredded beef brisket in it's pretty mahogany sauce.  I'm pretty excited about that.  One day in the future, dinner is going to be so freaking easy.  So quick.  So humdrum?  I really am in love with the fact that I have a full on dinner locked and loaded, ready to go.  It's just not a very exciting dinner.  It doesn't have me mumbling with every full-mouthed bite "this is good, this is like really good".  Which is especially disappointing when I really thought it was going to be.

It had all the makings to be a fantastically dinner: One, it came from the cooking blog demigod known as the smitten kitchen, about whom I have not been bashful professing my love for (like here, or here, or here!).  Two, it was going to be my first meal cooked in my first Crock Pot ever and so was destined for greatness from the beginning.  And finally 3, it was meant to make tacos.  Tacos make everything taste even more amazing than they would taste alone.  Tacos have a magical power, it's hard to do wrong to the taco.

Yet, even with all of those fantastically factually points, dinner was not fantastic.  It did not provoke any unconscious, food-induced chanting.  It was just good.   No fireworks, all socks stayed on, good.  The pros?  Besides 20 or so minutes of prep before it get's thrown into the slow cooker, that's all your doing and dinner is cooking for you, waiting to welcome you home and fill your tummy with warm nutrition.  And, as stated above, it can be made into tacos, and tacos, 99.98% of the time, are fun, messy and delicious.  The only real con may be apathy, but really, dinner can't knock your socks off every time.

So, if you have a Saturday that is chock full of errands (like hanging your TV on a wall mount that is (WOOHOO!!) still hanging up!) and you want a warm dinner at the end of it, this is the way to go.  Well, at least until I find a crock pot meal worthy of whispering sweet nothings to as it gets shoveled into my mouth...

Southwestern Pulled Beef Brisket
From The Smitten Kitchen, circa 2010

3 lbs. beef brisket
Salt and pepper
2 Tbsp. Canola Oil
5 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp. chili powder
2 tsp. ground coriander
2 tsp. cumin
1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 c. water
1/4 c. molasses
1 14.5-oz can whole peeled tomatoes
2 chipotle peppers from a can with a little adobo sauce
2 bay leaves

Season both sides of brisket well with salt and pepper.  In large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil until it just begins to smoke.  Add brisket and sear on both sides, about 5 minutes on each side.  Transfer to crock pot.

In same skillet, add onion and spices, and toast until fragrant, about 1 minute.  With head FAR away from skillet, pour in vinegar.  With wooden spoon, mix onions and vinegar, scraping bottom of skillet to pick up all browned bits of goodness from the meat.  Add water.  Pour mixture over brisket in crock pot.  Add molasses, tomatoes (crushed by hand), tomato juices from can, chipotle peppers and bay leaves.  Place lid on cooker.  Cook on low for 8-10 hours (longer is probably better) until brisket is easily shredded by hand. Once done, remove brisket from crock pot and shred.  Remove bay leaves from crock pot and discard.  Return shredded beef to crock pot, stir thoroughly with remaining juices and serve with warmed tortillas and pickled jalapenos, shredded lettuce, pico de gallo, pickled red onions, etc. as taco toppings!

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