As a Jewish girl living in California (and heavily influenced by Mexican food) it seems only natural that I would eventually make brisket tacos! I used the framework for my favorite brisket recipe, but used lime juice and green chiles instead of fennel and vinegar. Kind of a riff on barbacoa? But not authentically mexican at all.
I used flour tortillas this time, but I love Siete Grain Free Tortillas, especially the cassava and coconut flavor.
I’ve been making brisket for many years, and while there are a lot of ingredients you can use (with equally delicious results), there are a few techniques that are a must.
pre-salt the meat
Whenever I get a large piece of meat to roast (this applies to beef, lamb, chicken and pork equally) I try to pre-salt the meat at least 2 hours in advance, or up to 1 day.
sear on all sides
You sear the meat on all sides to form a nice brown crust. This process also adds extra flavonoids from the crusty bits (yes, that’s a technical term) that stick to the pan and end up in the sauce.
I always add onion and garlic to a brisket, sometimes fennel or carrots as well. For my “Mexican-inspired” dish, I wanted some heat and flavor from peppers, so I just added those in with the onions and garlic.
Brisket can be braised in a variety of liquids such as red wine, vinegar, stock or tomato sauce. You always want to add something acidic to help make the meat tender. For the tacos, I use a combination of chicken stock and lime juice.
low and slow
Either in the oven or the slow cooker – I have the best results when the brisket is cooked at a low temperature for multiple hours with the lid on (i.e. no liquid can escape).
turn up the heat
My favorite way to finish a brisket is to raise the oven temperature (425 F), take off the lid, and let cook until the sauce is reduced and the fatty top of the brisket is dark brown.
Ingredients for the brisket
3 pounds of brisket
1 large white onion, sliced thinly
3 green chiles – I used 2 anaheim and 1 jalapeno. This is not a very spicy recipe, so if you like more heat add another jalapenos or dried chile.
6 garlic cloves, smashed
3 cups stock of choice
⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
⅓ cup lime juice
1 Bay leaf
Salt and pepper
Tortillas of choice
Ingredients for the cabbage slaw
½ large or 1 small red cabbage
Zest from 1 lime
¼ cup lime juice
¼ cup avocado or olive oil
¼ cup mayonnaise
Salt and pepper
Salt and pepper
Pre-salt the brisket (¾ teaspoon of salt per pound) and let rest for a minimum of 2 hours or up to one day.
When you are ready to cook, preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. In a large Dutch oven, sear the brisket for between 5-10 minutes on both sides. I put the fatty side down first.
When the brisket is dark brown on all sides, remove from the Dutch oven onto a cutting board or large plate.
Add the chopped peppers, sliced onion, and smashed garlic to the dutch oven and saute for about 5 minutes to let the vegetables get some color. Add the spices and stir for one more minute.
Add the stock and lime juice to the vegetables and stir. Carefully put the brisket back into the dutch oven, fatty side up.
Put the lid on the Dutch oven and put the brisket in the oven for three hours.
While the brisket is cooking, you can make the slaw!
Whisk together – lime juice, avocado or olive oil, mayonnaise, salt, and freshly ground pepper. Mix everything until the dressing emulsifies (i.e. comes together). Put the shredded cabbage and lime zest in a large bowl. Pour the dressing on top.
I like to use my hand to mix everything together, or you can use salad tongs. Set aside. *You can make the dressing up to 1 day in advance. It gets better as it sits.
After the brisket has been in the oven for three hours at 300 degrees F, take it out, and crank up the oven to 425 F.
Remove the lid from the Dutch oven and bake for another 40 minutes. The crust of the brisket should be deeply brown, and the vegetables start to carmelize. Remove the brisket from the Dutch oven and put on a large cutting board. Wait 5-10 minutes for the meat to cool.
Shred the meat using two forks – it should easily fall apart.
Add the shredded meat back into the pot and stir together with the sauce.
If you’re feeling fancy, plate the brisket on a large platter before serving.
When you are ready to eat, start with your tortilla of choice, add some brisket, and top with cabbage slaw. Feel free to add any other toppings like avocado or hot sauce and enjoy!