I’m Pretty Sure You Don’t Have to be Jewish to Make This.
I used to sublet 1 bedroom of a 2-bedroom apartment for $200 a month from a young couple and their 2 cats. Yes, I considered the cats landlords too, since they had more control over the main living areas than me.
The girl who lived there also happened to be one of my good friends from back in high school and was, during the time I lived with her, also my boss where I fixed and sold watches (one of the best jobs ever).
*One of these days I will throw together a timeline of my youth for you, since it’s all very confusing.
I’m still not sure what happened.
One night I came home from work and my old high school friend/landlord/boss was out somewhere, but her boyfriend (with whom I also got along splendidly) was home entertaining some male friends. You know, sitting around, drinkin’ beers, watchin’ sports.
That sort of thing.
“Katie!” he yelled, when I came in the door. ”You have to try this salsa. It’s awesome!”
Since I felt famished from the long day of cleaning dirt, wiry hairs and a wax-like substance I still can’t identify out of the stretch bands of old mens’ watches, salsa sounded like just the thing I needed. A cool, refreshing, chunky bite of salsa. I took a huge scoop on a tortilla chip and shoved the whole thing in my mouth.
I didn’t notice the anticipatory stares of the guys in the room.
I didn’t notice the exchanged looks and the sly grins.
All I could focus on was the enticing salsa, the salty chip, maybe following it up with a swig of cold beer, and Oh my GOD it tastes like burning!!!
It turns out that the jar of “salsa” was really a mixture of various chopped chile peppers and spices that could only have been concocted by the Devil himself.
I don’t really feel as though I’m exaggerating on this.
Prior to the incident that will henceforth be known as the Time I Was Tricked Into Swallowing Salsa That Wasn’t Really Salsa But Satan’s Fury Preserved In A Jar, I was fairly ambivalent towards spicy foods. They sounded exotic and exciting, but I hadn’t really grown up with them and never really gave myself the opportunity for experimentation.
But after the Time I Was Tricked Into Swallowing Salsa That Wasn’t Really Salsa But Satan’s Fury Preserved In A Jar, I pretty much decided that spicy foods were no fun at all and why would you want to eat something that physically hurts?
About 8 years later, I found myself not only working on a chile pepper farm in Costa Rica that grows some of the hottest peppers known to man, but I was also making hot sauce.
Chile Pepper Farm. That is not me in the photo.
Hot sauce making is dangerous work.
It was from this experience that I started to lose some of my previous misconceptions about adding heat to food. And although my tolerance is still fairly low, I find myself trying new recipes that require some spice.
Enter the Southwest Chipotle Brisket Tacos I made the other day.
The original recipe can be found here.
I was terrified the spice in these would be too much for me and I would end up wasting a perfectly beautiful (and not inexpensive) cut of meat, but the result was a very nicely seasoned, tender brisket with a slight kick. The good news is that if you like <i>more</i> kick, you could easily add hotter spices to the pot, or you could garnish the tacos with your favorite flavor of hot sauce.
(By the way, if you’re dying to try the sauce I talk about so much, it’s not available yet in the U.S. But, you can become a fan on Facebook and they have trivia every Tuesday and you could win yourself a bottle! I realize this sounds like an infomercial, but I really do love the stuff.)
There are quite a few ingredients in this, but aside from browning the outside of the brisket before you start the slow cooking process, the only real step is throwing everything in the crock pot and turning it on.
Not too shabby, huh?
To make this, you will need:
- 3 lb. beef brisket (mine was more like 4 1/2 lbs, but I didn’t need to adjust the amounts of everything else)
- Salt and pepper
- 4 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 5 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 yellow onions, thinly sliced
- 2 Tbsp chili powder (If you like these spicy, you can use the extra hot Mexican style chili powder)
- 1 Tbsp red pepper flakes
- 1 Tbsp paprika
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes (and the liquids)
- 2 chipotles in adobo (These come in a small can in the Hispanic section of my grocery store. Gaby says you can freeze the rest for other recipes, but if you like things extra spicy, throw in a few more.)
- 1/4 cup molasses
This is a horrible family photo. It was early in the morning and I couldn’t get everyone to stand still, hence the blur. The water kept wandering out of the shot, the paprika was camera-shy, I’m pretty sure the onions are having marital problems, and I chopped off the top of the veggie oil’s head. We just weren’t having a good morning.
This is the brisket. She was a little… ahem… hefty to fit in the family photo, so we gave her an individual shot. As you can see, this one came pre-packaged, but if you’re lucky enough to live somewhere with a butcher shop (where the employees don’t smoke inside the store (I’m totally NOT kidding about this), you might be able to get one cut to your specifications. Four and a half pounds is a LOT of meat. But the leftovers are delish.
1. In a very large skillet or dutch oven, heat the 4 tbsp vegetable oil over high heat. Don’t get nervous (like me) about turning up the heat – it’s supposed to be hot! Season both sides of your hunk ‘o beef with a bunch of salt and pepper, and then plop it down into the hot pan. Brown each side for about 4 minutes, and be careful when flipping it – that hot oil tends to spatter!
While the meat is browning, it’s a good time to mince up your garlic and slice your onions to prepare for the next step.
I gave her a nice dip in hot oil… She barely fit in that tub, but we made it work.
Is it weirding you out that I’m describing the food as though it were people? Because I can stop. I probably won’t, but I can.
2. Stick the brisket in the crock pot, then add all of your other ingredients. Simple, no?
Mmmm… delicious spices.
Molasses. I’m not sure what purpose this serves, but it sure looks cool.
3. Mix everything together, making sure the meat is covered with the liquids. Then just cover and turn the crock pot on low, and walk away for about 10 hours! (I got started on this a little later than I had intended, so I turned the heat up to high after about 7 hours, let it cook that way for an hour and a half, then put it back on low for another half hour. I took it out after 9 hours of cooking, and it was still tender and delicious).
Seriously, though. It smells so good after about an hour, you’re going to want to open that lid. Don’t do it! Just let it cook.
4. When she’s ready, remove the brisket from the pot and place her on a cutting board or large plate. It matters not that she looks kind of funky. Her tantalizing smell and the way she just falls apart between two forks is more than enough to make up for it.
And, once again, my finished product pictures are awful.
I don’t know what it is about tacos and wraps, but I just can’t photograph ‘em. So, check out Gaby’s post on her blog if you’d like to see a fantastic photo of the finished product.
Gaby recommends serving these with guacamole (it cuts the spice) and Mexican cheese. I *gasp* nixed the cheese (the flavor of these is already good enough), but did make this avocado dip of yore to put on top.
Yum, yummy, yum yum yum.
You can pretty much garnish these however you want. But make them. The ingredients can be a bit pricey, but this will make a lot of meals.