When I hear 'brisket,' I think of the Jewish holidays. No meal was ever complete without this melt-in-your-mouth dish. Typically braised over a long period of time with tomatoes, carrots, onions, potatoes, red wine and savory rosemary and thyme, brisket is nothing short of spectacular.
When I hear 'tacos,' I think of Mexican food. Mexican cooking incorporates all kinds of meats cooked low and slow: beef, pork, chicken, you name it.
Why not combine the two?
As the fourth of July holiday approached, I wanted to make something familiar, but "with a twist," as I always say. I wanted to make something you could eat with your hands, could be easily customized by my guests, and required minimal day-of cooking. Tacos fit the bill.
My friends declared, "It's the fourth of July... you should be making American food," and "No BBQ!?" My rebuttal: "The slow-cooker is very 'American'," and "Who doesn't like tacos!?"
Here's what you need to make the brisket for Brisket Tacos:
Serves 8-10 people easily with lots of leftovers; can serve up to 16-18 people
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 2 TBS adobo sauce from canned chiles in adobo
- 1 TBS cumin
- 1 TBS paprika
- 1/2 TBS salt + pepper to taste
- One 7lb brisket - you may not be able to find this whole, so you can buy multiple packages of brisket that add up to 7lbs
- OR, 4-5 lbs brisket and 2-3 lbs short ribs - this is what I did since I could not find enough brisket; worked out perfectly!
Sauce for the brisket:
- 1 TBS vegetable oil
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 2 1/2 TBS tomato paste
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 TBS chili powder
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- Corn tortillas
- Your choice of toppings (see below)
Combine all spice rub ingredients in a bowl. Rub generously over the brisket, wrap brisket in saran wrap, and marinate for at least 4 hours, or ideally overnight.
When ready to cook, place marinated brisket into the slow cooker. Set a sauté pan over medium heat. Heat vegetable oil until shimmering, and add in the rest of the sauce ingredients except for the water, vinegar and ketchup. Cook until the onions and garlic have softened, about 5-6 minutes.
Transfer onion mixture to the slow cooker, add only the water, and set for 6-7 hours on high, or 9-10 hours on low.
When the brisket has finished cooking, transfer from the slow cooker to rest on a wooden cutting board. If you used short ribs too, remove meat from the bones and add to cutting board. Tent with foil for 15-20 minutes. This will let the juices re-incorporate into the meat. While the meat is resting, let the sauce in the slow cooker rest for 5 minutes, and skim off as much fat as you can. Whisk in apple cider vinegar and ketchup.
After the meat has rested, shred with two forks and add back into the slow cooker with the sauce. Then, back away from the brisket as your guests may run you over.
For a quick taco topping, I made red cabbage slaw, tossed with apple cider vinegar, sesame oil, celery salt, and a dash of salt and pepper.
On the side: Snap pea, radish and red onion salad [on the blog soon!]; black beans and rice; peach and mango salsa; guacamole; red and green lettuce with a lemony-garlic vinaigrette.
This may seem like a lot of work, but I promise you it's not. While the brisket is cooking practically all day, you have time to make side dishes and get ready for your guests to arrive. You can probably even squeeze in a nap. Then, you can decorate for the festivities:
We spent the rest of the night lighting sparklers to celebrate our nation's holiday and the beginning of a much-needed long weekend.
For your next gathering, let the slow-cooker do all the work so you can join your own party!