Sunday, June 30, 2013

Pretty much the best thing

I am kind of into the grill. And the smoker.

I have a love for charcoal and smoke that borders on the unnatural.

The other day, when I was watching the "Chopped" grill masters tournament, I was filled with an appropriate measure of rage because each round only included one woman. That's four women, total, in the whole tournament. As if grilling is a man's domain. Please.

Then there was the party I went to recently where I bent a friend's ear about smoking (food, not cigarettes.) He was probably sorry that he asked me what model smoker I have. He will probably avoid me at future gatherings. However, he did inspire me to want to smoke strawberries to use in homemade ice cream. One of the most brilliant ideas I've heard of late.

Just today I chastised my brother-in-law because he fears char.

So the concept of rubbing a brisket with coffee grounds, ancho chile, and salt, grilling it until charred (hi, Steve!), braising it with cinnamon, black pepper, onions, tomato, and garlic, then shredding and serving it in tacos, well, that is pretty much the best thing.

Light your chimney starter! Behold the machaca!


Adapted from Eric Williams of Cleveland's excellent Momocho restaurant

1/2 c. coffee, coarsely ground
4 T. ancho chile powder
1/2 c. kosher salt
5-lb. beef brisket, trimmed of most of the fat
2 c. red wine
20 oz. tomato juice
1/4 c. freshly-squeezed lime juice
1 c. red wine vinegar
1/2 c. garlic, chopped
2 T. freshly-cracked black pepper
1 T. cinnamon
2 bay leaves
1 onion, cut into a few large pieces

For serving:
Corn tortillas
Red onion, sliced
The guacamole of your choice

In a medium bowl, combine the coffee, ancho powder, and salt. Rub the mixture onto the brisket, coating as evenly as possible.

Build a hot charcoal fire, in an even layer, in the bottom of the grill. (You could always use a gas grill, of course, but I love charcoal with all of my heart.) Place the brisket on the grill and sear, charring the meat in places. Do not fear the char!

Remove from the grill. If your 5 pounds of brisket isn't already in pieces (i.e., you started with one big mammoth piece of meat instead of several smaller cuts), cut the meat into three pieces. 

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the meat into a large roasting pan. Add the remaining ingredients: red wine, tomato juice, lime juice, red wine vinegar, garlic, black pepper, cinnamon, bay, and onion. Add enough water to cover the brisket. Cover the pan with a lid or with a piece of aluminum foil.

Place in the oven and cook for 3-4 hours, until the meat is tender and falling apart. 

Remove the brisket from the braising liquid and allow to cool. Strain and reserve the braising liquid. When the meat is cool enough to handle, shred it into bite-size pieces. Place the reserved braising liquid in a saucepan and cook over a low heat until slightly reduced and thickened.

To serve: Char corn tortillas on the grill, or in a dry skillet on the stove. Place two tortillas together and fill with shredded beef, red onion, a dollop of guacamole, and a generous drizzle of the reduced braising liquid.

Makes enough machaca for several nights' worth of taco eating. Or, you could just shove the machaca in yo face, uncivilized-style, if nobody is looking. You're probably in your back yard, near your grill, so nobody is looking.


Previously, on A Stove With A House Around It:

One year ago: tomato-water spaghetti
Two years ago: dilly scapes
Three years ago: banana bread with coconut and pecans
Four years ago: red rice and young garlic pilaf
Five years ago: Ligurian lemon cake