Brisket Braised in Chiles and Beer

Ancho (Ahn-cho) Chile (Capsicum Annum) means Wide Chile Pepper. This chile ranges from 3 – 4 on a heat scale of 1 to 10. An Ancho is the dried form of a Poblano Pepper and often is mislabeled as a Pasilla or Mulato Pepper. Anchos have sweet fruity flavor with hints of cherry, prune, and fig. Anchos, combined with the Pasilla and Guajillo, form the Holy Trinity of chiles used to prepare the traditional mole sauces. Scoville heat units are 1,000 to 3,000.

Suggested Use:
Anchos are great in salsa, soups, enchilada and any sauce needing mild heat and chile flavor. Chopped, pureed or ground, they can be added directly to your recipes.

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One 4 to 5 pound brisket (I used flat cut)
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon crushed black pepper
2 dried ancho chiles, seeded and coarsely chopped
2 arbol chiles, seeded and coarsely chopped
3 garlic cloves
1 medium onion, quartered
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 dark beer
flour tortillas
sour cream
cojita cheese or shredded jack cheese


Take the brisket out of the refrigerator while you prepare everything else. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the onions, and the ancho and arbol chiles. Pulse the onions and the chiles until they are chopped small. Add the oil and ¼ cup of beer. Process the mixture until it is nearly smooth.

Warning: The paste you just created is very spicy and pungent. When you open the lid of the processor, don’t stick your face right over the bowl or you will get an eye and nose full of hot surprise.

Place the brisket fat side down in a large roasting pan. Season it with half of the salt and pepper and then slather on half of the chile and onion mixture. Turn the brisket fat side up in the roasting pan and season the fat side with the remaining salt and pepper and slather it with the remaining chile and onion mixture. Pour the rest of the beer in around the meat. (Don’t pour it on top or you will rinse off the chiles and seasonings. Cover the roasting pan tightly with foil and place it in the oven. Roast at 325 for one hour and then reduce the heat to 275 for approximately 4 additional hours (or as long as it takes for the meat to “give.”)

Remove the brisket from the oven and allow it to rest, as is, for 30 minutes. Remove the brisket to a platter. Use a spatula to remove the layer of gelatinous fat on top of the brisket and discard it. Cut the brisket into manageable chunks and then use two forks to shred the meat.Use a fat separator to remove the fat from the juices. Another way to accomplish this is to pour the juices into a strong re-sealable bag that is sitting upright in a big bowl. Pour the juices in, seal the bag and allow the juice to settle. The fat will rise to the top. You can then carefully snip off a small corner of the bag and pour the juices back into the roasting pan, squeezing off the flow of juices when you get to the fat. As I used my fat separator, I noticed that a lot of the peppers were floating right under the fat. Not wanting to discard these flavorful bits, I put a sieve on top of my separator to protect all the bits and then removed the fat with a spoon. In other words, the sieve pushes down the bits out of the fat and allowed me to spoon out fat without also spooning out the bits. You should do, obviously, whatever works best for you. If you are not eating the brisket until the following day, you can just put the shredded meat, liquid fat and all, into the fridge. The fat will gather at the top and solidify and you can just remove the waxy layer of fat before you reheat the brisket.

Return the juices and the meat to the roasting pan. You can serve it immediately or you can replace the foil top and keep the brisket warm in the oven.

To serve, allow each person to build their own tacos. Tortilla, meat, cheese, avocados, salsa…whatever floats your boat.

Another option is to fill the tortillas with brisket and some jack cheese, fold them over, and place the tacos on a nonstick griddle pan. Cook on both sides until the cheese is melted and is holding the tacos together nicely. Serve the avocados and condiments on the table. Don’t forget the chips.

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