Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Brisket Tacos and Cilantro Lime Rice

For Labor Day, my inlaws came over so I wanted to make something that would be customizable. Tacos are easy, but brisket tacos are easy and delicious. I love ordering brisket tacos at Tex Mex restaurants so I thought I'd just make a standard brisket and add the usual taco fixings. I thought it turned out pretty tasty.

This brisket recipe is from Tyler Florence and was very good; probably the best brisket I've had in awhile (not compared to the smoked brisket at BBQ places - I don't have a smoker!). It was very juicy, tender, with lots of flavor.

Beef Brisket Recipe
4 large garlic cloves, smashed
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
4 sprigs fresh rosemary, needles striped from the stem and chopped
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 (4 pound) beef brisket, first-cut (I had a huge brisket that I cut into 3 parts and froze - I used just 1 part, which was about 4 pounds)
Coarsely ground black pepper
4 large carrots, cut in 3-inch chunks
3 celery stalks, cut in 3-inch chunks (reviews said this got mushy so I skipped it)
4 large red onions, halved
2 cups dry red wine
1 (16-ounce) can whole tomatoes, hand-crushed
1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour (optional)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

On a cutting board, mash the garlic and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt together with the flat-side of a knife into a paste. Add the rosemary and continue to mash until incorporated. Put the garlic-rosemary paste in a small bowl and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil; stir to combine.

Season both sides of the brisket with a fair amount of kosher salt and ground black pepper. Place a large roasting pan or Dutch oven over medium-high flame and coat with the remaining olive oil. Put the brisket in the roasting pan and sear to form a nice brown crust on both sides. Lay the vegetables all around the brisket and pour the rosemary paste over the whole thing. Add the wine and tomatoes; toss in the parsley and bay leaves. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and transfer to the oven. Bake for about 3 to 4 hours, basting every 30 minutes with the pan juices, until the beef is fork tender.

Remove the brisket to a cutting board and let it rest for 15 minutes. Scoop the vegetables out of the roasting pan and onto a platter, cover to keep warm. Pour out some of the excess fat, and put the roasting pan with the pan juices on the stove over medium-high heat. Boil and stir for 5 minutes until the sauce is reduced by 1/2. (If you want a thicker sauce, mix 1 tablespoon of flour with 2 tablespoons of wine or water and blend into the gravy).

Slice the brisket across the grain (the muscle lines) at a slight diagonal.

*My changes: I did not make the gravy, since we were using them in tacos. I had sliced avocado, cheese, sour cream, salsa, and flour tortillas to go with it.
For the sides, I made cilantro lime rice and black beans - they could be used in the tacos or on the side. Or both. 
This is surprisingly similar to the rice at Chipotle - it would be great in a burrito, taco, burrito bowl, or just as a side dish.
Cilantro Lime Rice
2 cups water (use chicken broth; it's MUCH better)
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup long-grain white rice
1 teaspoon lime zest
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Bring the water to a boil; stir the butter and rice into the water. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until the rice is tender, about 20 minutes.

Stir the lime zest, lime juice, and cilantro into the cooked rice just before serving.

Sloppy Bombay Joes

I think it's impossible to get a sloppy joe to look appealing? This meal is from my new favorite Food Network host - Aarti. I rooted for her during The Next Food Network Star and am so pleased with her first few episodes. I already loved Indian food, and the spices they use, but her recipes give even more ways to use the unique flavors.

Now, I do not like sloppy joes. Matter of fact, it's a "man meal" that Jason makes if I go out of town because I'm not making it or eating it. I have to eat my words after trying these - they were delicious. Obviously worlds apart from the dreaded canned Manwich you can find at Walmart but still very easy and so tasty. Since her recipe uses ground turkey, and relies on spices for flavor, the calorie count can't be that bad...

Sloppy Bombay Joes
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon minced ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 serrano chile, seeded and finely minced (save the other half for the turkey)
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 cup water

3 to 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
Small handful shelled pistachios, about 1/4 cup
Small handful raisins, about 1/4 cup (I skipped - I really hate raisins)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds (skipped - but want to try it again with them)
1/2 large white onion, finely diced
1 red bell pepper, seeds and membrane removed, finely diced (skipped)
1/2 serrano chile, seeds intact (don't chop it up unless you like things spicy!)
Kosher salt
1 pound ground turkey
1/2 teaspoon honey
1/4 cup half-and-half (I used a little cream instead)
Small handful chopped fresh cilantro (soft stems included)
4 to 6 hamburger buns
Begin by making the sauce: Warm the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat, until it shimmers. Add the ginger, garlic and serrano pepper. Saute until the ginger and garlic brown a little. Add the garam masala and paprika and saute for 30 seconds. Stir in the tomato sauce and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until thickened, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile for the turkey, in large skillet, warm 2 tablespoons of oil. When shimmering, add the pistachios and raisins. Cook until the raisins swell up and the pistachios toast slightly. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Return the pan to medium heat, add 1 to 2 more tablespoons of oil, and warm until shimmering. Add the cumin seeds and allow them to sizzle for about 10 seconds, or until some of the sizzling subsides. Stir in the onions and bell pepper; saute until softened and starting to brown. Add the serrano pepper. Saute for another couple of minutes, seasoning with a little salt. Stir in the turkey, breaking up the big lumps. Cook until opaque, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, your sauce should be ready. Pour the sauce into the skillet with the turkey. Stir and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until the mixture has thickened slightly, about 10 minutes.

Once the turkey is cooked and the sauce has thickened a little, remove the serrano pepper. Add the honey, half-and-half, pistachios and raisins. Stir through and taste for seasoning. Before serving, garnish with fresh cilantro.

Toast the buns, fill with the turkey mixture and serve.

Scallops with Sauteed Spinach, Basil, and Cream

This recipe is from my friend, Sheryl, who adapted the original recipe. I used her suggestions for the most part and it was really, really tasty. I wish my picture looked as good as hers so you could see just how nice this dish looks when plated.

Scallops With Basil and Cream
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup chopped onions
3/4 teaspoon minced garlic
1 pound bay or sea scallops
1/4 cup white wine
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup heavy cream
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
Pasta, cooked

Heat the butter in a skillet on medium heat. Add the onions and garlic, and cook, stirring, until they are just soft, about 3 minutes.

Add the scallops and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Transfer the scallops to a platter and set aside.

Add the basil and cream and cook until the cream reduces and thickens a bit. Season with salt and pepper. Return the scallops to the skillet and toss gently to coat with the sauce. To serve, pour the mixture over linguine or angel hair pasta.

*My changes, per Sheryl's suggestions: I seared the scallops prior and just added them at the end. I sauteed some spinach in butter and garlic, set aside, and then plated it under the scallop mixture. I also doubled the sauce so there would be plenty. We got 3 good servings from this recipe (with the doubled sauce)

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