Southwestern Pulled Brisket by Chris

Mary was out of town and a co-worker of mine had been telling me about a brisket recipe that I just had to try.  So here is a rare non-Mary entry into the Mary Buffet.

This recipe came from the Smitten Kitchen blog (link below). I followed it exactly except took the advice of my co-workers wife and added an additional quarter cup of brown sugar and then reducing the resulting sauce substantially after the brisket was done.

Southwestern Pulled Brisket

3 pounds beef brisket
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
5 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 Spanish onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups water
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, with their juices
1 to 2 whole canned chipotle chiles en adobo [Read: 1 or 2 from a can, not one or two cans, m'kay? Many misread this amount!] (I used one pepper; two will give it a real kick)
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup molasses

For serving:
If sandwiches, soft sandwich buns. If tacos, small soft tortillas. For both, I suggest some slaw, pickled onions and/or pickled jalapeños.

Season the beef with salt and pepper, to taste. Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil and heat just until beginning to smoke. Add the meat and cook, turning once, until browned on both sides, about 10 minutes total. Transfer the meat to the slow cooker; leave the skillet on the heat.

I did not use a slow cooker for this recipe, I used a cast iron dutch oven in our electric oven at 200 degrees for 9 hours.  After Mary got home she informed me that we do in fact have a slow cooker so I will try it in there next time and see which way is better.
Add garlic, onion, chili powder, coriander, and cumin to drippings in the skillet and stir until fragrant, about one minute. Add vinegar and boil until it’s almost gone (and seriously, get your head out of the way of the steam; inhaling vinegar is no fun!), scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Stir in water and pour the mixture over the brisket. Crush the tomatoes through your fingers into the slow cooker; add the tomato juices, chipotles, bay leaves, and molasses. Cover the cooker, set it on LOW, and cook the brisket until it pulls apart easily with a fork, about 8 to 10 hours. (The original recipe suggests 8 hours, but my mother-in-law, who makes wonderful brisket, says she cooks hers for 10. So I went with 10 and it was lovely, but feel free to check in on yours at 8 hours to determine if it needs more tenderizing.)
I strained the sauce (to remove the cooked-until-dead vegetables and bay leaves), then simmered it down (to about 2/3 the volume) to thicken it a bit. I served the brisket whole in a dish and pured the sauce back over it.
The sauce definitely makes this dish it has a really good twang.  Mary worked her magic on the leftovers the next night serving it over rice after she doctored it with some additional peppers and cheese sauce.  Me being greedy I stretched the brisket fest into lunch the next day as well.  Thank you Mr. large cow.


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