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April 30, 2017

Brisket Tacos

I'm currently surrounded by dozens of screaming college students, and it's only 9am. I returned from a peaceful morning at the farmers market (I went at dawn to avoid the triple-wide strollers and confused geriatrics and actually see what was for sale before it sold out) to find that the campus descended into complete and utter chaos. It's Mifflin. Mifflin is a giant block party with thousands of people lining the streets--well, the lawns since open containers and all--and making bad decisions. My corner of campus is about a mile from Ground Zero, but there were still massive house parties raging all morning. I chose to focus instead on my studies and the delicious cronut I purchased earlier (check out my instagram it's pretty intense) since I prefer more food-based shenanigans, specifically Cinco de Mayo.

Cinco de Mayo has all sorts of historical significance, but it's morphed into an excuse to eat, drink, and party. I'm all for tasty food, which is why I whipped up a giant batch of these crockpot brisket tacos. I braise a big slab of brisket with beef broth, apple cider vinegar, jalapenos, and plenty of spices. If you're willing to sacrifice a beer, that would make a delicious addition as well. The whole thing cooks all day or all night (should you prefer breakfast tacos) before being loaded into warm tortillas and topped with whatever you desire. I like cheese for the goo factor, some thinly sliced radishes for sharpness and crunch, a few slices of avocado for creaminess, and a drizzle of chipotle mayo for an extra punch of heat. You could also throw on some pickled jalapenos (or raw jalapenos if you're up to it), diced onion, fresh salsa, and/or a sprinkle of cilantro.


Given that this is a brisket taco, it's a pretty safe bet that the brisket is the most important part of the taco. I usually think of brisket as slow-smoked and topped with barbecue sauce or my grandma's not-so-secret recipe for Jewish holidays, but this recipe is far easier than either of those. Just mix up your braising liquid, pop in a brisket, and let your crockpot run for a few hours. I use beef broth for bulk, apple cider vinegar for a bit of tang, jalapeno for heat, onions and garlic because no recipe is complete without them, and a special spice blend. As I said before, if you have some extra beer lying around and choose to add that to the crockpot as well I certainly won't stop you.


Once the brisket is basically falling apart, it's time to shred it. You could cut it into cubes, but I think shredded brisket lends itself better to rapid taco assembly. I remove the brisket and either use my hands or some forks to shred the meat. That goes back in the crockpot with some of the strained braising liquid and cooks for maybe another hour until it soaks up even more savory goodness. When the beef is shredded, it has far more surface area to absorb the liquid, so it keeps it tender, juicy, and even more flavorful.


Once your beef is cooked, shredded, and cooked again, it's taco time. You can use hard or soft tortillas (corn or flour) and whatever toppings you have on hand. If you're having a big Cinco de Mayo party, consider setting up a taco bar so your friends and family can make their own tacos to their specifications and save you a bunch of prep time. I like to have a variety of textures, so make sure you have something crunchy, something creamy, something spicy, and something cheesy. That's better than the four bridal requirements, y'all. Make it go viral. A mix of colors is also appreciated, so keep your tacos pretty and the drinks flowing for the perfect Cinco de Mayo.


3 lbs Brisket (or whatever fits in your crockpot; can cut down for a better fit)
3 Cups Beef Broth
3 T Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Jalapeno, Diced
1 Small Onion, Diced
5 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1 T Cumin
1 T Chili Powder
1 T Paprika
1 1/2 tsp Cayenne
1 T Garlic Powder
1 T Onion Powder
Tortillas
Taco Fixin's

Stir the beef broth, vinegar, jalapeno, onion, garlic, and spices together in a crockpot. Season the brisket generously with salt and pepper and add to the crockpot. Cook for 6-8 hours on low or until very tender.

Remove the brisket from the crockpot. Strain the braising liquid and set aside. When cool enough to handle, shred or chop the brisket. Return to the crockpot with a few ladles of braising liquid as desired. Cook on low for 1-2 hours, adding more braising liquid as necessary.

Serve the brisket with the tortillas and toppings.

Serves 6

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