Saturday, April 28, 2012

Slow Cooker Brisket Tacos

I made this the other night, adapted from my Clean Eating magazine. Just a few minor changes (I will type out the full recipe ingredients with notes about what I changed).

Slow-Cooker Brisket Tacos with Tangy Chimichurri Zucchini
1 tsp grape seed oil
3 lb flat-half beef brisket, trimmed
1 large white onion (I used sweet yellow), halved and sliced into 1/4" strips
3 large cloves garlic (I crushed mine)
1 1/2 c. chopped or crushed tomatoes (I used crushed but next time will use diced)
1 c. water
2 ancho or guajillo chile peppers (I didn't have any so used Penzey's Northwoods Fire Spice which includes chipotle and other chiles), trimmed and seeded
16- 6" corn tortillas (I used flour as it's what I had on hand)

1 zucchini, sliced into 1/8" strips
2 c. lightly packed fresh cilantro
1 c. lightly packed fresh parsley (I used flat Italian parsley)
1/2 c. red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic
1 jalapeno pepper, stemmed and seeded (I didn't use as Northwoods Fire seasoning was spicy enough)

Heat large cast iron skillet on high and brush with oil.  Add brisket and sear both sides. *If brisket is too large, cut brisket in half and sear in batches
Transfer brisket to plate. Add onion to skillet and saute until onion releases liquid and begins to soften, about 2 minutes. Add 3 cloves of garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

In a 5qt slow cooker, add tomatoes, water, chile peppers, and onion-garlic mixture. Nestle brisket in center, cover, and cook on high for 6hrs.

Prepare Chimichurri:
In a food processor combine and puree cilantro through jalapeno. Pour into a bowl and toss with zucchini. Cover and refrigerate until needed (this was good enough to snack on!). This can be made up to 2 days ahead.

Switch slow cooker to warm setting, transfer brisket to cutting board and cut in half across the grain. This makes the beef shred into smaller strips for easier eating. With a fork, shred brisket by pulling meat across the grain. Return brisket and juices to the slow cooker and stir to coat. Add salt as needed.

When ready to serve, spoon brisket mixture into tortillas and top with zucchini mixture.

**Other stuff I added or would add next time:
I put shredded mexican cheese in my tortilla shell and warmed it before adding the brisket mixture.
Next time I would try putting a little salty Queso or Feta Cheese in the Zucchini mixture. Just a touch for some tang.
I would double the Chimichurri sauce.
Before adding the Chimichurri sauce to the taco (after letting it set and soak for a few hours) I would use a slotted spoon to drain a lot of the excess juice/vinegar off. The taco is REALLY super messy between the vinegar juice and the tomato sauce.
I might add beef broth instead of plain water to the brisket before cooking.

Overall, delicious and very easy to toss together. The Chimichurri sauce definitely adds pizzazz to the taco, otherwise it might be a touch on the boring side. The flavors meld perfectly.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Powdered Beans

I played with an experiment and I am here to announce: SUCCESS!

I loved the idea of pureed beans for subbing oils in my recipes. I had great success with our morning waffles but felt it to be a little bit of a pain to have to open and puree a can every time I wanted waffles. Usually only half a can was used (if that) and then it would get icky in the fridge before I needed bean puree again.

My experiment?

Dehydrated pureed and powdered beans!

I threw a couple of Great Northerns from the can (no draining) into my food processor and pureed them into baby food. Then I spritzed a little cooking spray on my dehydrator sheets and spread the beans out into a thin mess. Popped the trays into the dehydrator and let them do their thing.

A few hours later they were dried to a crumbly texture. I had previously measured out a 1/4c. bean puree onto one sheet so I could later see how much it measured out to be as dried. This would give me a good idea on how much to use to reconstitute back to 1/4c.

I put each tray of crumbled beans into my mortar and pestle then ground it all into a semi-fine powder. Waaa La!

Today I made waffles with the dehydrated beans. I used the same amount of other ingredients (buttermilk, eggs, 1 Tbs. flax seed) but added a bit of skim milk to it. They came out perfect! Crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. Yum!