Sunday, March 16, 2014

Dr. Pepper Braised Brisket Tacos

If not for the 10 hours worth of cooking time and my desire to be extremely lazy Saturday morning (read: I didn't want to put on pants to go to the store), this would have been my 200th post. I continued my weekend of delicious cooking with what was quite possibly the best slow cooker recipe I have ever tasted.  At last, I was able to combine my love of Dr. Pepper with my love of meat in one beautiful, tacoey union.

To me, you are perfect.
Dr. Pepper Braised Brisket Tacos
Adapted from Cooking Haven
Servings: 15+ tacos
Time: 10 hours (in a slow cooker for 9 of those)

Aye, there's the rub.
3 lbs beef brisket
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp dried chipotle powder
1 tbsp cumin
1tbsp salt
2 tsp black pepper
2 1/2 tsp garlic powder
3 tbsp canola oil
16 oz Dr. Pepper (I used fancy Dublin ones)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
3 tbsp molasses
2/3 onion, diced
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes (I used fire-roasted)
1/2 cup jalapeno pepper jelly
2-4 cups beef stock, as necessary
Jalapenos, sliced
Avocado, sliced
Pickled onions (see recipe below)

Silly brisket, you can't escape.

  1. Make your rub by mixing the paprika, chipotle powder, cumin, salt, black pepper and garlic powder together in a bowl. Apply the rub generously to both sides of the brisket.
  2. Get oil in a skillet hot over medium heat. Once hot, sear the brisket for about 4-5 minutes per side until it starts to brown. Remove.
  3. Mix the Dr. Pepper, vinegar, molasses, diced onions, tomatoes and pepper jelly well in a slow cooker. Add the brisket in and top with beef stock until just submerged.
  4. Cook covered on low for 8-9 hours.
  5. Spend your day being incredibly lazy to make up for the 30 minutes of effort you just put in.
  6. Remove the brisket from the liquid and let cool. Once cooled enough, pull with two forks.
  7. Transfer the liquid to a pot and reduce over medium-high heat to about half the volume. You're gonna have plenty of time to do this because it takes a while to pull all that brisket.
  8. Recombine the reduced liquid with the pulled brisket and warm over medium-low heat.
  9. Use a slotted spoon to serve the brisket and remove excess liquid (it's still going to be ridiculously juicy and worthy of 3+ napkins). Fill tortillas with the brisket and top with jalapenos, avocado, cilantro, pickled onions and salsa.
  10. Sit and eat in silence aside from "mmm" because everyone is busy stuffing their faces and calculating how much they could eat without feeling shame.
Fancy camera captures the awesome fresh out of the slow cooker steaming brisket.
Originally, this recipe called for root beer, but I have a special place in my heart for Dr. Pepper. Back in college, I used to keep a case of it in my room at all times (and I kept my room at 50 degrees, so I wouldn't have to refrigerate it because we were going to get the most out of our tuition paying the dorm's power bills). I don't often find myself drinking soda anymore, but I make time every now and then for Dr. Pepper (especially if it's the pure cane sugar Dublin variety in a fancy glass bottle).

Kevin's pulling skills are unmatched. Plus, it's a great forearm workout. 
The brisket itself smelled and looked excellent. It had that distinct brisket flavor that makes it the state meat of Texas, but it really excelled when it made its most joyous reunion with the reduced Dr. Pepper braising liquid. The chipotle powder infused rub, fire roasted tomatoes and molasses helped reconcile the brisket's BBQ origins with its current Tex-Mex use.

HEB fresh made tortillas are the way to go if you're in Texas.
The absolutely succulent Dr. Pepper brisket was the perfect taco filling. Its unbelievable melt in your mouth tenderness was kicked up even further with the creamy avocado, crunchy and spicy jalapeno and the perfectly pickled onions to make one of the greatest tacos I have ever eaten (and after 6 years of living in Texas, that's saying something). Nancy, Kevin and I sat at the table stuffed and contemplating justification for another. Fortunately, we all managed to stop at 3.

You can see how juicy it is. Note: your plate and hands will be covered by the time you're done savoring each and every bite.

Pickled Onions
Adapted from Inspired Taste
Servings: 2 onions worth (so a lot)
Time: 1 hour (inactive for 50 minutes)

2 red onions
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup lime juice
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp salt
Boring, unassuming red onions just waiting to be brined.
  1. Slice your onions into thin strips and place in a bowl or pot with handles.
  2. Bring a separate pot of water to a boil.
  3. Cover the onions in boiling water for 10 seconds then drain into a colander and set aside in another bowl.
  4. Heat the apple cider vinegar, lime juice, sugar and salt together until dissolved. 
  5. Brine the onions in the acidic mix and let come to room temperature. 
  6. Strain and serve. You should reserve the brine if you want to store for later use.
Pickled red onions turn such a pretty color.
I spent about as much time searching for pickled onions at the store as I did making them. Pickling is an incredibly easy process that produced quick, vibrant results. Note: only use these pickled onions with your tacos. By themselves, they are far too vinegary, but that aspect of them works quite well with the brisket.

From pickling onions to finding the greatest use for Dr. Pepper ever, it was an incredibly productive yet also lazy (thanks slow cooker!) Sunday. It was the perfect finish to a fantastic weekend of tasty adventures.

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