Sunday, September 23, 2012

Muy Bueno Cookbook Spotlight #2: Brisket Tacos with Homemade Flour Tortillas

For our second post of the Muy Bueno Cookbook Spotlight, participating bloggers were asked to choose any recipe from the cookbook, prepare it and write a post about it.  Even though this was the post I was really looking forward to doing, when it came down to it I really had a hard time deciding which one to choose.  There are so many wonderful looking recipes, narrowing it down to one proved to be really difficult.

Since our first recipe was one that was credited to Yvette, I decided that I wanted to make one of Veronica's or Vangie's to spread the love around a bit.  I flipped through the book so many times the pages started to become dog-eared before finally deciding on Veronica's brisket tacos. I knew that this recipe would probably be a real treat for both my brisket loving family and me, especially since using the slow cooker just so happens to be one of my favorite methods of cooking.

As with Yvette's salsa recipe I scaled this one back just a bit to feed my smaller family.  Really the only adjustments I made was to use a brisket that was slightly under 2 pounds instead of the 2 - 4 pounder Veronica called for, and then adjusted the liquid smoke per her directions.  I threw everything in the slow cooker and forgot about it until suppertime.

Seeing that I had a little extra time on my hands, I decided to make some homemade tortillas to go with the brisket.  Originally I wanted to make corn tortillas, but after reading that you really need a tortilla press for these (this is honestly the only kitchen gadget that I do not own), I turned to the recipe for flour tortillas and I am so glad that I did.

After discovering this easy recipe I may never buy tortillas again.  The few simple ingredients and the quick prep really made this recipe something that I will definitely repeat.  I just hope to improve on my rolling technique a bit because even though my tortillas were delicious, most of them turned out to be shaped like the state of Texas.

Ignoring the fact that my tortillas' shapes were the butt of several jokes, my family's verdict on this dish was an enthusiastic thumbs up with a side of, "Mom be sure and do this again!" Need I say more?  I think this would also be perfect for tailgating or football parties this fall.  The only thing that just might have been missing was a big spoonful of Yvette's mushroom, jalapeno and cilantro salsa on top.

Brisket Tacos

I love the ease of taco night.  I usually just pull all of my toppings out of the fridge, set them out on the Lazy Susan and let everyone create their own dream taco.  This meal will put a smile on anyone's face.

2 to 4 pounds beef brisket, flat trimmed
2 ounces liquid smoke per pound of meat
2 bay leaves
12 ounces beer
Salt to taste
Ground black pepper to taste
12 to 24 corn tortillas

Place the brisket, liquid smoke, bay leaves, and beer in a slow cooker.  Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours. 

Remove the brisket and shred the meat.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Warm the tortillas.  Place shredded brisket in tortillas and add your favorite toppings.

Topping Options

Shredded cheese
Sour cream
Chopped cilantro
Chopped white onions
Avocados, pitted peeled and sliced
Salsa of choice

Makes 12 to 24 tacos

Homemade Flour Tortillas

Don't worry if you don't own a comal (similar to a heavy bottom crepe pan) as you can always use a cast iron skillet or any other flat bottom skillet that you have.  Just be sure that you preheat it and it is good and hot when you start cooking your tortillas (this is why I prefer cast iron).  A really hot pan is essential because cooking them in too cool of a skillet will cause them to be hard and dry.  Like making pancakes, I scrapped the first one writing it off as the test pancake, so don't worry if this happens to you too.

4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 - 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon lard or shortening
1 - 1/4 cups warm water

*Place a comal (griddle or cast-iron skillet) over medium heat and allow it to heat up.

In a bowl combine all the dry ingredients.  Add the lard or shortening and combine until you have the consistency of small crumbs.

Add the warm water and mix will with your hand. The mixture may be a little sticky.  Knead on a cutting board or smooth counter until dough is pliable and springy.  Sprinkle with flour if dough is too sticky.

Form 2 - 2 -1/2 inch dough balls.  With a rolling pin, roll out the dough balls to form 7 - 8 inch disks.  If dough is sticky, sprinkle board and rolling pin with flour to make it easier to roll out the dough.

I roll out my tortillas as thin as I can get them without breaking them.  Since they contain baking powder they will still puff to a nice thickness.

As you roll out each disk, place on the hot comal to cook, it will take 1 minute or less on each side.  After cooking the first side, turn tortilla over and let it cook on the opposite side; when tortilla starts to form air pockets press down gently on it with a wooden tortilla press or  rolled up kitchen towel (like Grandma did) to release the air.  Don't press too much, or it will make tough tortillas.

Keep the tortillas warm in a tortilla warmer or under a clean dish towel while you make the rest.  Leftover tortillas can be refrigerated in a plastic bag.

Makes 13 to 14 (7 to 8 inch) tortillas

*I find that I like to cook my tortillas in a really hot pan so I cook mine over a medium high heat.

**This post is part of the Muy Bueno Cookbook Spotlight & Cook-Off sponsored by Hippocrene and hosted at girlichef.

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