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.

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