Brisket Tacos with Gravy, Goat Cheese and CilantroPosted: 22 March 2011
This is the best thing I’ve ever made. EVER. I’m still thinking about it. I totally want to make it again, but I don’t have a brisket on hand to do so. I might have to get one just so I can do this again. I’ve learned a lot. And I’m proud to say this recipe came completely out of my brain…and the only instructions I followed were words of wisdom from Adam Ritchie on Man vs. Food.
Here we go. So. Brisket. How the heck do you cook a brisket? I had one from our bulk beef purchase and it sat in the freezer for a year. 3 lbs of beef, just looking at me. I was terrified of it to be honest. I didn’t know how to cook it and I knew that it was one of those things that when done wrong, will suck. I tried looking online but I have a sneaking suspicion that most brilliant brisket recipes are kept a secret. I did read a few that were many, many pages long and involved rotating charcoal on your grill for eight hours. Yeah, not gonna happen. I also read several that pretty much said, ‘Dump some beer in a crockpot and cook it on low.’ That seemed a little too simple in comparison. There had to be middle ground right? I can handle long, slow cooking, so long as I don’t have to DO something every 20 minutes. Kids, I did it. I tackled brisket and I won. Muwahahahahahaha. It wasn’t very hard, and although it does require many hours of slow cooking, cooling, soaking, etc. It’s not hard and it’s not labor intensive at all. Whew!
Crockpots are great for keeping meat tender and producing yummy flavors right? So I stuck our brisket in the crockpot on low. I knew I wanted to make a flavorful gravy to go with the brisket (I had brisket tacos in mind the entire time, I just didn’t know how mind blowing they would be) so I added spices and liquid that would assist with the gravy-making. A bottle of stout beer, tons of chili powder, garlic, black pepper, some kosher salt, and some Mrs. Dash’s chipotle seasoning blend did the trick. Oh, and a fair amount of cayenne for kick. Yum. I mixed the spices with the beer, then poured it all over the top of the brisket. Turned it onto low and went out on the town. Really, we did. It was my birthday dinner and we went to a place called Saffron. I didn’t take pictures but Senor had sea bass and I had short ribs and it was amazing. Saffron=delicious.
Anyway, we may have had some hibiscus-infused sangria at dinner…followed by pink champagne back at home and a movie on instant netflix. Around 11pm we decided the brisket smelled too amazing, we had to eat some of it right now. This wasn’t the best plan.
The sauce was yummy and the meat was okay at this point. Still gristly at certain areas though. We made nachos out of some thin strips of brisket. It was a good enough snack to accompany cheap champagne, but nothing to write home about. I knew I was only half way through the process of making the brisket, so I wasn’t super worried at this point…but maybe a little concerned. We ate our nachos and I let the brisket cool. Once cool, I trimmed most of the fat off. I left a thin layer on…you don’t want to scalp all the fat off. But there was a lot of excess that just wasn’t necessary. I put the brisket and the liquid from the crockpot into a large bowl and left it covered in the fridge. The cooked brisket was soaking in all that delicious flavor. Yum.
The next morning when I took the brisket out of the fridge, a lovely layer of fat and hardened on top of the liquid. I easily scooped most of that away. I left about a quarter of it so the gravy would form properly. You need some fat. Not an inch of fat that’s 8 inches in diameter. Ugh.
Now, I had learned from Man vs. Food that the best part of the brisket is the part that’s blackened on the edges. That you want a smoky flavor in each bite and the way to do that, is to slow cook on low heat over charcoal. Obviously I wasn’t using charcoal, but I figured there had to be a way to make it crispy and char-y on the edges without trying to forge through the snow to our grill. Enter the (toaster) oven. Well, Man vs. Food was right, and I still regret that we ate any of the brisket before it was really ready to be eaten. Delicious morsels gone to waste! Don’t eat your brisket straight out of the crockpot, it’s only a fraction of the gloriousness it should be!
I took the brisket out of the liquid and plopped it onto a foil-lined pan. At this point, it was just the right size to fit in our toaster oven. Have I mentioned how much I love our toaster oven? It’s big enough for a stoneware loaf pan, an 8”x8” baking dish, and, obviously, for a brisket. I almost always use it instead of our oven because it has a glass door AND a timer. Two things my oven does not have. It also has settings for ‘warm, bake, broil, and toast.’ The ‘toast’ setting is super helpful for when you want things browned on top and bottom. As in, golly, I’d like my brisket to have crispy bits all around. I think I’ll put it on toast!
The brisket went in the (toaster) oven around 3. I used the toast setting and set it to 275. I’m sure you could get the same effect by using an oven at 275 and flipping it half way. At 6 pm, this is what came out of the toaster oven.
Any remaining fat had browned up and turned into sizzling, crunchiness on the edges. The meat was so tender and juicy, it was addictive. Seriously. You know when you cook something that’s so good, you can’t stop tasting it long enough to make the actual meal? It’s SUCH a problem with this stuff! I let the meat cool for half an hour (so the juices could settle), then sliced it into thin strips. Each one had the delicious blackened edge and I could hardly believe how much better the meat was compared to straight out of the crock pot. SO good. Excuse the excessive photographs…yes, it was really that delicious.
While the meat cooled, I chopped up some fresh cilantro, a tomato and a red onion…and added some fresh goat cheese.
Then, I made the gravy. Remember the leftover liquid from the crockpot? Into a saucepan and brought to a boil, a few tablespoons of flour dissolved in hot water and voila. Gravy.
Now comes the exciting part. The part where eating mass quantities of brisket happens. I layered the meat in a taco-sized tortilla shell and topped it with some gravy. Added on top of that was crumbled goat cheese, chopped tomatoes, onion, and cilantro. Topped off with a bit of dijon mustard.
This is the only thing I would change in the future. I would use straight horseradish sauce. The mustard we used had horseradish in it, but the strong stuff would be SO good in these I can’t even tell you.
Top off the finished tacos with a bit more gravy. YUM.
I know this is the longest post ever, but I had to do these tacos justice. They really are the best thing I’ve ever made. Senor loved it so much that when he was done with his, he grabbed the plate of left over meat, dumped the remaining toppings on it, added some mustard and gravy and went to town with a fork, sans tortilla. At that point, it’s really just an accessory right? There were no leftovers that night.
Brisket tacos with gravy
1 brisket (around 3lbs) cooked with the instructions below
Chopped red onion
Chopped fresh cilantro
Dijon mustard or Horseradish sauce
Brisket gravy, cooked as instructed below
Taco-sized tortilla shells
To make the brisket and gravy:
Put your brisket, fat cap ‘up’ in a large crockpot. Turn on to low for 8 hours.
In a separate bowl, pour 12 oz of dark or stout beer. Add generous amounts of chili powder, garlic powder and black pepper. Add kosher salt and cayenne to your preferred taste. Stir the spices and let sit in the beer for approximately 10 minutes. Pour over the brisket.
After 8 hours, remove the brisket from the crockpot and let cool. Turn crockpot off. Trim fat to a thin layer over the brisket. Remove any large pieces of fat or gristle.
Pour liquid from the crockpot over the brisket and let cool until safe to move into the refrigerator. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours.
After 8 hours in the refrigerator, remove brisket from the liquid. Scoop any fat off the liquid and discard.
Place brisket on a foil-lined pan and bake at 275 for three hours. If using a conventional oven, flip the meat halfway through the cooking. Remove the meat from the oven when the meat looks dark and crispy but not overdone.
Allow the meat to cool, then slice into thin strips.
While the meat is cooling, pour the saved liquid into a sauce pan and heat on high. Bring the liquid to a boil. Once boiling, dissolve 2-3 heaping tabelspoons of flour into a cup of extremely hot water. Pour the dissolved flour/water mixture into your gravy. Let simmer until the desired thickness is achieved. Then, remove from heat and serve over brisket and over tacos.
Once your meat is ready, build your tacos with the chopped veggies and cheese, slather with mustard or horseradish and enjoy!
Seriously, if you have a chance to make these, or if you have a brisket staring you down, please please please make these. You won’t be sad until all your brisket is gone.
And, as a PSA: Yes, I am open to bribery. If you would like me to cook or bake for you, just ask! I accept money, love, plane tickets, lodging, large cuts of meat, and a variety of services (like wedding photography anyone???) in exchange for anything you want made. Just so you all know… 🙂