Do you ever have a recipe come together and you think ‘huh, I really don’t exactly know how I created that.’
That’s what happened last week with our barbacoa beef.
Like with any new recipe, I read it over and over before I made it and I also skimmed over most of the reviews. The recipe looked and sounded amazing, but I felt it was a bit confusing and all of the mixed reviews about the cooking time backed up that feeling.
After spending close to $30 on our piece of brisket I wasn’t about to ruin it. I prepped everything the night before and the next morning my day of babysitting the brisket begin. Here’s a quick run down on my high maintenance hunk of meat: (and I’m not talking about M)
6:51: B is whining for his morning bottle. While I warm it up, I get the crock pot going on high. About an hour in, it smells amazing.
8:45: B begins his morning melt down for his nap. Hmm, recipe says to keep it on high for 4 hours, but that is with a 5 lbs piece of meat. Mine was 3 lbs, so, I turned it down to warm. (Mistake).
11:30: M and L are due home from MT any minute! Hey wait a minute, the house doesn’t smell as good anymore. Let’s crank that baby up to high. I take great pride on hearing M say “wow it smells good in here” when he walks through the door.
12:00: Boys are home and getting settled. M did not comment on the smell…grrr…back down to warm it goes. Whatever, I’ll get him with my cowboy cake.
2:41: M and B are peacefully napping upstairs, L is watching the Flinstones and I am writing. I should probably check on the brisket. Ok, it won’t even remotely shred, I’m cranking it back up to high.
3:30: Still not pulling. Huh. Getting nervous.
4:55: About to leave for ninja class, let’s check this bad boy out one more time. Yippee! It’s slowly pulling. Judgement call here…I turned it to LOW (not warm!). There is a fine balance between tough brisket and brisket that won’t pull at all.
6:00: Return from class with another stripe on L’s belt. He rocks. Ok, fingers crossed we are good to go here….and yes! The brisket pulls wonderfully. I flipped the switch to warm until dinner time which was around 7:00.
7:00: Yum. So worth the high maintenance of it all. Think Chipotle at home.
The moral of all this? If I had to do it again, I would leave it on high for another hour or so in the morning and then switch to low, not warm. It’s harder to overcook a brisket than it is to undercook it. Another challenging part of this is everyone’s crock pot is a bit different but I think it would be safe to go with the above plan and to keep an eye on it. Not as much as I had to, don’t worry. That’s why I am here…to figure those things out.
- 4 chipotle peppers (from a can) plus all the sauce they sit in
- 1 bunch of cilantro, chopped
- 1 red onion, chopped
- 1 head garlic, peeled, and cloves smashed
- 2 tsp ground cloves
- 1 TBS kosher salt
- 1/3 cup cider vinegar
- juice of 4 limes
- 5 lbs beef brisket (this would feed an army, use less if you don't have any army to feed)
- 4ish cups chicken stock
- 3 bay leaves
- Stir together all the ingredients up until the brisket in the bottom of a slow cooker. Lay the brisket on top. Add stock to just cover the meat and place the bay leaves on top.
- Switch on high for 3ish hours, then low for another 5-6. Check on it twice or so - if it ever pulls too easily it's done. Flip it to warm at that point and make sure there is enough liquid to keep it moist.
- When you are ready to eat, remove brisket and shred with two forks. Discard most of the cooking liquid, leaving just enough to keep a nice sauce for the meat to sit in. (I discarded roughly 80%). Serve on warm tortillas with homemade pico de gallo ( http://a-life-from-scratch.com/two-for-one).