Mexican Milk-Braised Brisket

Morita chiles are red, fully mature Chipotles. This gives them a unique, medium – hot smokey flavor which is popular in many Southwestern dishes. These can be added to sauces (including Mole) to add smokey flavor and maintain the red color of the sauces. These peppers are about 2-4 inches in length, 1 inch in width, and have a deep brick reddish brown color. The word Chipotle translated to smoked chile. Consider the Chipotle a 6.5 on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the hottest). Scoville heat units 7,000-25,000.

Suggested Use:
Use Morita in enchilada sauces, chili, stews, barbecue ribs, and corn bread. Their smoky quality combines well with poultry, meats and fall squash.

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For the marinade:
3 dried chipotles
About 1 tablespoon dried piquin peppers
About 60 ml (1/4 cup) boiling water
1 head of garlic
A dribble of olive oil
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (if using dried, use 1 teaspoon)
1.5-2 kilos (3-5 pounds) rolled boneless veal brisket, or any other meat suitable for braising

For the braising:
About 2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2-3 bay leaves
2-3 star anise (optional)
An additional teaspoon of salt, plus more to taste
1 liter (slightly more than a quart) of bone marrow or beef stock (You could probably also use chicken stock)
½ liter (slightly more than two cups) of two percent or whole milk
2 tablespoons honey

A heavy casserole dish suitable for braising
A food processor or mortar and pestle


The night before:
Preheat your oven to 190 degrees Celsius or 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Slice the top ½ inch off the garlic bulb, drizzle with a little oil, wrap in aluminium foil, and put in the oven to roast until tender (about 15-20 minutes). While the garlic is roasting, soak the dried chiles in the boiling water, and toast the cumin and fennel seeds in a dry pan, shaking frequently, until lightly browned.

When the garlic is soft and cool enough to handle, squeeze the cloves out of the bulb. They should pop out easily. If you have a mini food processor, purée all of the marinade ingredients, including the soaking water from the chillies, in that, or use a mortar and pestle to pound into a thick paste.

Wash and dry your meat, then rub the marinade over it well, put in a ziplock plastic bag or container, and put in your fridge to marinate overnight. (Don’t be worried about the spiciness of the paste- it will mellow out as it is cooked.)

The next day:
Preheat your oven to 150 degrees Celsius (300 degrees Fahrenheit).

Heat the vegetable oil in your casserole pot and lightly brown the meat on all sides. Pour in a little stock, scrape up any of the spice paste that has adhered to the pan, and then return the meat to the pot, and add the remaining stock, milk, bay leaves, honey, and star anise, if using, and any leftover spice paste.

Cover, put in the oven, and braise, turning the meat once about two hours into the cooking. At this point you can also add an additional teaspoon of salt, but be conservative, as the sauce will later be reduced.

After about four hours of cooking, or when the meat is completely tender (you want to braise this until the meat is more than fork-tender, but completely yielding, like a very soft overripe peach) remove from the oven and take the brisket out of the sauce. You may be dismayed, as the sauce will have separated into a mess of fat and milk solids. Don’t be. This is part of the master plan. Remove the bay leaves and star anise, if using, and purée the sauce until completely smooth using a immersion blender or food processor. Return the sauce to the pot and heat on your stovetop until the sauce is reduced by half and is the consistency of a gravy. (Like gravy, it will thicken as it cools.) Taste and add additional salt to taste, if needed.

Pull apart the meat with a fork, cover with the sauce, and serve.