Brisket Tacos and Borracho Beans

I hope everyone had a fantastic 4th of July.  Ours was really low-key:  we got up super early, went for a walk at a local park, came home and were like slugs all day.  I napped, but before I napped, I put a brisket in the oven for us to have for dinner last night.  After all, it was the 4th of July, and well, brisket is holiday food.  At least it is to me.

Anyway…we had a substantial bit of brisket left over, because well, you can’t buy a brisket for 2.  You can get pretty close, but it’s tough.  Thankfully, the butcher I shop at had smaller cuts of brisket and I was able to get a brisket that was a bit under 6 pounds.  I didn’t really do anything special to it:  just poured a couple of Mexican Cokes (no corn syrup) into a 9-quart Dutch oven, rubbed the brisket down with some rub I have, and placed the meat in, fat side up.  I put the lid on it, put it into a 250F oven and let it cook from 9 until 5 that evening.

The result was a super moist, fork-tender brisket.  In lieu of a smoker, this is how I’m going to cook brisket from now on.

Anyway…since we had so much leftover brisket, I decided that we’d have brisket tacos for dinner tonight, which turned out to be a brilliant idea:

Got leftover 4th of July brisket? We did. Here's what we did with it...mmm, brisket tacos! Almost like barbacoa, but a bit less fatty and just as tasty!

I served them on whole wheat tortillas, along with a bit of shredded Chihuahua cheese and lime wedges.  The avocados we had were not quite ripe enough, or I’d have sliced them up and stuffed the tacos with them.

But man cannot live by tacos alone (or can he?  That’s debatable).  To round out our dinner, I fixed a pot of borracho beans, in the style of a local joint we frequent whose beans are off the chain.  Borracho is the Spanish word for “drunk,” and these beans are so named because you add a bottle of beer to them as they cook.  Of course the alcohol cooks out during the cooking process, so no drunkenness ensues.  Be sure you choose a good quality beer for this, as you really don’t want skunky beer flavoring your pot of beans!

Borracho beans: easy to make, filling to eat, full of veggies and...bacon. Which you can leave out if you like, but which does add flavor.

So I’ll cut to the chase and tell you how I made this evening’s dinner.  You will need:

For the tacos:

  • about 1 1/2 cups chopped brisket
  • 4 tortillas
  • Garnishes:  lime wedges, shredded cheese of your choice, salsa, avocado slices, cilantro, chopped onion…you get the idea

Warm the brisket in the microwave.  While the brisket is warming, heat your tortillas either in a skillet on the stove, or you can go all Mexicano and do it on the stove eye, like I do.  Just don’t burn yourself.  Once your tortillas are warm, stuff each taco with about a half cup or so of brisket and garnish as desired.

For the beans:

  • 1 pound dry pinto beans, rinsed and sorted (basically, make sure there are no rocks)
  • 3 tablespoons ham base*
  • 1 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 2 cans diced stewed tomatoes
  • 4 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 large jalapeno pepper, sliced (remove the seeds if you want less heat)
  • 2 slices bacon, cut into lardons
  • 1 12-ounce bottle lager style Mexican beer, like Corona
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons Mexican oregano (it has a more intense flavor than Mediterranean oregano, found in Greek cuisine)
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • hot water

*If you do not have ham base available to you or cannot consume pork products, you may substitute chicken stock and leave out the bacon.  To make this completely vegetarian, use vegetable stock.

Once you have rinsed and sorted your beans, place them into a large pot (like a 5 or 6 quart Dutch oven) and cover them with hot water so that the water is 2″ above the beans.  Cover the beans and put them on a stove set to medium-high heat.  Bring the beans to a boil, and then add the ham base.  Stir thoroughly so that the ham base dissolves in the liquid, then reduce the heat to medium-low and allow the beans to cook for 90 minutes, stirring periodically so that they do not stick to the bottom of the pan.  Once the 90 minutes has passed, add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.  Allow the soup to cook for an additional 60-90 minutes.  At the end of the cooking time, use a potato masher to mash the beans up slightly so that your soup is thickened a bit.  Serve while piping hot.

To reduce the heat, you may omit the jalapeno.  Our beans turned out to be quite spicy, but really good!  The pot makes about 10 1 1/2 cup servings.

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