Beer and meat were made for each other. Usually, the two usually don’t meet up until they reach mouth or stomach, but this beer-braised brisket makes the introduction sooner: In the oven, or in our case, the Big Green Egg (which doubles as an outdoor oven). Because it cooks all day, it’s a perfect project for a cold Sunday at home; it’ll keep the kitchen toasty and make the house smell like carnivore heaven.
Many brisket recipes call for searing the beef first, but this one uses a shortcut. By putting it in the oven for an hour at a higher temperature without the braising liquid, a bark begins to form on the outside. That’s helpful if you’re cooking indoors and it’s too cold to open a window to release the smoke that would be caused by searing it.
The not-so-secret ingredient in the brisket-braising liquid is beer. A dark beer like a porter gives you plenty of roasty notes — somewhat reminiscent of a mole sauce, which is perfect since we turned our brisket into tacos.
1 brisket (ask your butcher for “the flat”), 3 to 6 pounds
12-ounce porter or other dark beer
2 cups beef or veal stock
1 large, white onion, sliced
2 to 3 dried ancho chiles
Salt and pepper
Optional: Whatever taco fixings you want (we like tortillas, queso fresco, Mexican crema, pickled red onion, an array of hot sauces and salsas, and fresh cilantro)
Method: Place the brisket in a large roasting pan or dutch oven. Season liberally with salt, pepper and olive oil. Place in a preheated 300º oven and let it cook for one hour.
Meanwhile, in a saucepan over low heat, warm the veal stock and add the onion and the ancho chile peppers. Let the mixture simmer for a few minutes, at least until the ancho chiles are soft.
After the brisket has been in the oven (or smoker) for an hour, pour the braising liquid in the pan so it almost completely covers the brisket. Cover the pan with tin foil, lower the temperature to 250º and let it cook for 5 more hours, or until it becomes fork tender.
Carefully remove the brisket from the oven and it let sit for 30 minutes in the juices. Then remove the brisket from the juices and let sit at least another 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, add the pan juices to a saucepan over medium heat, and reduce by by half (about 10 minutes).
At this point the brisket should easily pull apart with a fork. Remove the fat cap, and pull the brisket (chop it if the strands are too long) and toss the meat with the pan juices, then serve with taco fixings.
Bonus recipe: Beer-Pickled Onions
1 large red onion, sliced
Freshly ground black pepper
Red wine vinegar
Method: Slice the onion. Generously salt the slices, and let them sit for 15 minutes to release the juices. Cover with freshly ground black pepper, cumin, and equal parts red wine vinegar and pale ale (fill to the top of the bowl to completely cover the onions). Let the mixture sit for 20 minutes or more and use as a garnish on beer-braised brisket tacos.