This brisket tastes likes it came off the barbecue, with a smooth, perfectly seasoned sauce. Pasilla chiles are one of the mildest chiles and, along with the dried mushrooms and a bit of tomato paste, they add a smoky complexity to the sauce that forms after hours of slow cooking. I can’t eat onions so I substitute asafoetida, an Indian spice that tastes similar, but remember that a little goes a long way when you’re using it. No matter how many onions a recipe calls for, don’t use more than 1/2 teaspoon of asafoetida. Not everyone with fructose malabsorption can eat mushrooms, by the way, mushrooms contain polyols, so don’t eat this if you’re sensitive to them.
I love brisket, but not only is a 5 pound piece of meat more than my family wants to eat in a week, it’s too big for my crock pot. So I cut it in half and stack the layers in the ceramic insert. After the meat cools off, I freeze half for another meal. If I want to experiment with different flavorings, I freeze half of the raw meat so that I don’t waste as much if the experiment isn’t as successful as I hope it will be. In that case, use only half of the rub paste and freeze the rest so that you can make it again if it you like it enough.
I often serve this with baked potatoes and green beans or broccoli. When I have extra time, I like to make Gluten Free Multigrain Cream Scones as well.
Texas Barbeque Brisket
Serves 8, adapted from “Marinades, Rubs, Brines, Cures & Glazes”
1 1/2 teaspoons (7.5 ml) black peppercorns
1 tablespoon (15 ml) dried oregano (the Mexican version is more flavorful)
1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) asafoetida
2 dried pasilla chiles (1/2 ounce or 14 grams), seeds and stem removed
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons (10 ml) salt
1/4 cup (120 ml) dried porcini mushrooms (1/4 ounce or 7 grams)
2 tablespoons (30 ml) freshly squeezed lime juice
3 tablespoons (45 ml) olive oil
4 to 5 pound (1800 to 2250 grams) beef brisket
4 ounces tomato paste
Put all the seasoning rub ingredients into a coffee mill and grind them into a fine powder. Empty the spice mix into a small bowl and add the lime juice and the olive oil, then stir till a paste forms. Trim the excess fat off the brisket and, if needed, cut it into two pieces that will fit into your crock pot. Rub the paste over the entire surface of the pieces of meat. Seal the meat into a large zip lock bag and place it in the fridge to marinate for 12 to 24 hours. Depending upon the size of your zip lock bag, you may need to put each piece of meat into its own bag.
When you’re ready to start cooking, smear the tomato paste over both pieces of meat, covering each side, then layer the meat in the crock pot. Cook on low for 9 to 10 hours. Try to plan the start time so that the meat is done half an hour before you intend to eat. This allows the meat rest in the sauce, giving it time to reabsorb some of the liquid and become more tender. If you’re home a couple of hours before the dish is done, quickly turn the meat layers over and flip them from top to bottom, so that both pieces are equally cooked. Try not to leave the lid off for very long because you don’t want let the cooking heat escape. Turn the heat up to high for 1/2 an hour to make up the lost heat, then turn it back to low for the rest of the cooking time.
Half an hour before you’re ready to serve the brisket, skim the accumulated fat off the top of the sauce, whisk the sauce so that it’s smooth, then slice the meat and pour the sauce over the top. There will only be a small amount of sauce, but it should be the consistency of a medium white sauce and full of concentrated flavor. Cover the dish with a piece of foil so that the meat stays warm.