Tacotopia, Episode #2: The Taco Takes Texas

Though Texas is, like California, a border state, I don’t really associate it with tacos. Sizzlin’ pans of fajita chicken with bell peppers, yes — but not so much the humble and extraordinary taco.

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Last April, I made a Texas smoked brisket for my daughter Willa’s ninth birthday party. No, she did not ask for a brisket — I just thought it was a good idea. What little girl doesn’t dream of smoked brisket for her birthday?

There was lots of brisket leftover. In a moment of inspiration, I decided to make a smoked brisket taco. And it was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten.

At the store recently, I spotted a beautiful brisket on sale. Into the basket it went. And back home, onto the smoker it went for its eight hours of slow cooking. A total process of 10-12 hours may seem excessive in the pursuit of a taco, but believe me — tending that wood fire is one of the best investments of time imaginable.

Jon digs in

Jon digs in

“That’s too good to put on a taco,” my pal, Skinny Girls sidekick and designated Year of the Taco taster, Alex said upon biting into one of the tacos that came to the table later that day.

“Nuh uh,” pal, Skinny Girls sidekick and designated Year of the Taco taster, Jon countered, filling his own face with smoky taco goodness.

The taco

The taco

I get Alex’s point. The meat was pretty darned good, sliced thin and crisped up in a hot pan. He may have thought the brussel sprout slaw, pickled onions and spicy orange sauce were overkill. I was more in Jon’s camp — the sum of the parts represented a little slice of Mexican heaven. Albeit with a Texas twist.

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Texas smoked brisket taco
serves 4-6

1 lb. smoked brisket, thinly sliced
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced lengthwise (into slivers)
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar (or white vinegar)
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1 cup chiffonaded brussel sprouts
1/4 cup thinly sliced yellow (or brown) onion
1 tbsp. chopped cilantro
1 tbsp. thinly shaved jalapeño
1/4 cup plain whole milk yogurt (or sour cream)
1 tbsp. mayonnaise
12 small taco-size tortillas
orange salsa to taste

Make pickled onions 1-2 hours beforehand: Mix together onions, vinegar and oregano in a small bowl. Toss occasionally while pickling.

Make the brussel slaw: Stir together the yogurt and mayonnaise until combined. Toss in a large bowl with the brussel sprout chiffonade, sliced onions, shaved jalapeño and cilantro.

Heat a skillet over high heat, and cook the brisket, tossing occasionally, for 2 or 3 minutes, until crispy and browned. In the same pan, toast the tortillas, 20-30 seconds on each side.

Construct your tacos: Pile a little brisket in the center of a tortilla. Top with slaw, a drizzle of orange salsa and a few pickled onions.

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Cheryl "Cheffie Cooks" Wiser
    Feb 05, 2016 @ 20:05:00

    Yum! Have a great weekend Sean and Family! Cheryl


  2. andreathompson2
    Feb 06, 2016 @ 23:40:53

    I am positive the brisket tacos we have here in Texas are not nearly as divine as yours but they are HUGE here. So are every other kind of taco. But, there is something about Brisket in Texas.


  3. thejameskitchen
    Feb 14, 2016 @ 17:08:04

    Sean, this is another divine taco and I agree on the condiments – a must.


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