My husband is a proud Texan. He and the rest of his family have all been transplanted back east but Texas still holds a big place in their hearts. So several years ago, when I heard of a blog about Texas food, of course I had to follow it. Fast forward a few years and Homesick Texan has made our whole clan, well, homesick and nostalgic for Texas. And I’m not even from there!
I’ve done a couple of theme nights based on recipes from the blog and now from Lisa Fain’s two cookbooks. The favorite dishes for my family though, seem to be beef-centric. The Boy still requests the Dr. Pepper Brisket made with real cane sugar Dr. Pepper. Of course, that may be because I have to buy the little four pack of throw back soda that he commandeers, but I would agree that it’s awfully good. But the recipe we come back to over and over is Lisa Fain’s Brisket Tacos, Dallas Style. And when Chef J’s brother came for a visit recently, I pulled out a whole bunch of Homesick Texan favorites including these amazing tacos.
These aren’t your typical Tex-Mex tacos. I can best describe it as an almost pot roast feel. Savory and juicy and delicious and slightly spicy. Yum. My husband didn’t grow up eating these in Dallas as a kid but he certainly can get behind them now and his brother and parents were pretty happy too. I’ve adapted this recipe over the years into something I can prepare on a school night by using my slow cooker. I’ve also started using dried chiles which happened by accident when I forgot to buy fresh. It adds a little smoky heat that really works well with the brisket. I still use fresh poblanos on the tacos themselves but I really like the dried chiles cooked with the brisket.
I normally have most of the ingredients at home already. Sometimes I have to pick up a couple of fresh chiles but otherwise, if I buy a brisket, we are good to go at my house. So give this one a go next time you have a night that you know you aren’t going to feel much like knocking out an elaborate meal. I generally get most prep and cooking done in the morning and the final prep done while the meat is resting.
This is a really great and satisfying (and messy) meal. This is definitely a hunker down over your plate with your elbows out kind of dinner. You are going to get juicy goodness everywhere but you’ll be completely happy.
Slow Cooker Brisket Tacos
For the Slow Cooker Brisket:
- 3 lb flat cut brisket, some fat trimmed off, cut into large chunks
- 1 T vegetable oil, lard or bacon grease
- 1 large onion, cut into large chunks
- 6 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- 1/4 C red wine vinegar
- 2 C low sodium beef broth
- 1 t ground cumin
- 2 dried pasilla chiles (found on the Mexican aisle in your grocery store or at a Mexican market), stems and seeds removed and torn into pieces
- 2 stems cilantro
- 1 bay leaf
For the taco:
- 2 large poblano chiles
- 2 t vegetable oil
- 1 large onion, halved and cut into strips
- 1 C shredded Monterrey Jack or Colby Jack cheese
- 10-12 flour tortillas
- fresh chopped cilantro, optional
- hot sauce, optional
Sprinkle the brisket with salt and pepper. Heat oil or fat in a large skillet over medium-high heat and sear brisket on all sides, about three to five minutes for each side. Remove brisket from pan and set aside. Add onions to skillet and cook until beginning to brown slightly (you may need a little more oil), about five minutes. Add garlic cloves and continue to cook another two minutes, adding a splash of water if bottom of pan starts getting too black. Deglaze pan with vinegar (the acid is going to make you cough and sputter something awful!) scraping up any brown bits and dump the onion mixture into your slow cooker. Add cumin, dried chile pieces, cilantro and bay leaf to slow cooker and combine well. Add about half of your beef stock and stir to combine. Place brisket pieces in slow cooker and pour remaining stock over top. You don’t want it completely submerged, meat should be about half exposed.
Cook in slow cooker 8-10 hours on very low (my slow cooker allows me to tell it what time I want it to be done and it adjusts the heat up or down accordingly). It should be fork tender. Turn off slow cooker and allow beef to cool in the liquid uncovered about 30 minutes.
While meat is resting, rub poblanos with 1 t vegetable oil and place under the broiler until blackened, about five minutes per side (or roast with tongs over your gas flame). Place blackened chiles in a zipper bag or paper sack for about fifteen to twenty minutes to steam. Remove chiles from bag and rub and peel off skin with your fingers or a paper towel. Cut in half lengthwise and remove stem and seeds. Cut chiles into strips.
Heat remaining oil in skillet over medium heat and saute onions strips until soft and slightly brown (about ten minutes). Add poblano strips and cook for another minute or two. Set aside until ready to use.
Remove brisket from cooking liquid and remove any big chunks of fat. Shred the meat in a bowl with two forks so that it’s in long strands. Skim excess fat from top of broth and discard bay leaf. Puree the remaining liquids and veggies right in the crock using an immersion blender (or blend it in batches in a blender). Pour about 1/2 C of the pureed broth over the beef and combine it well. Reserve the rest of the broth for the table. Taste the meat and add salt or pepper as needed.
To assemble the tacos, put shredded cheese on tortillas and place under broiler just until cheese is melted, you don’t want them to crisp up. Fill tortillas with brisket, peppers and onions. Serve with pot juices, cilantro and hot sauce if desired.