Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Subtlety

Texans aren’t known for their subtlety.  Personalities tend to be as big as the state, and smiles are as wide as the horns on their famous cattle.  But there is one area where Texans are subtle—their jokes and pranks.  While jokes and pranks are usually on a grand scale, it’s the approach that’s subtle.
 
I had some neighbors who loved having people over for dinner.  They were very friendly and their Italian heritage was especially evident when they set out a meal.  It appeared as Italian-American as Sunday Gravy, but the family was Italian-Texan.  This was usually lost to the visitors underneath the appearance of everything Italian.
 
One of this family’s favorite moves was to replace a few of the pine nuts in their pesto with tiny pequin peppers.  They always made a normal pesto and as a garnish sprinkled on a few whole toasted pine nuts, but when visitors were at the table, a few pine nuts were a bit different looking from the others.
 
“Oh, we had to substitute a few Texas pine nuts,” was the normal response if someone noticed the difference.  However, the first indication of subterfuge was usually when someone was gasping for air and grabbing for water.
 
I don’t really know why Texans like “in your face” flavors, but they do.  Most foods Texans consume are simple but bold, like their barbeque, or their Tex-Mex.  Jalapenos are served with breakfast, coffee is very thick and strong, and French fries are covered with gravy or mustard.  For a snack, pour some chili into an open bag of Fritos, toss in some chopped onion and shredded cheese, and grab a handful of napkins.
 
Not everything is cooked on an open fire or in a pit in Texas, including brisket.  Jalapeno Brisket is one of those dishes with the full range of Texas personality—bold and subtle at the same time, but this is no joke.
 
 
Jalapeno Brisket
Serves 6
 
    1 (6-pound) first cut (flat cut) beef brisket, untrimmed                                      
    8 to 12 fresh jalapeno peppers, stemmed, seeded if desired                              
    5 cloves garlic
    1/3 cup brown sugar                                            
    1/3 cup apple cider vinegar                                    
    Olive oil as needed                                                  
    4 thick carrots, peeled
    1 large onion, peeled and thickly sliced                                       
    1 to 3 cups (or more if needed) beef stock                           
    1 lemon 
    Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste          
    Fresh jalapeno slices and slivers for garnish
 
Puree the jalapenos and garlic in a food processor.  Add the brown sugar and pulse two or three more times.  Add the apple cider vinegar and process until the ingredients form a thin paste.
 
Pierce the meat all over with a fork, and place the meat into a large bowl. Cover with the jalapeno puree, and place in a refrigerator for about one hour, turning over after 30 minutes.
 
Preheat the oven to 450F.  Place a roasting pan on a burner, coat the bottom with olive oil, and turn on the heat to medium/high.  Remove the brisket from the puree and scrap off as much of the puree as possible, but reserve the puree in the bowl.  Brown both sides of the brisket in the roasting pan.  Be sure there is good ventilation for this step.
 
Remove the roasting pan from the heat.  Remove the brisket from the pan, and place the carrots and onions on the bottom of the roasting pan to form a base for the meat.  Place brisket (fat side up) on top of the vegetables.  Add enough beef stock to reach the bottom of the brisket.  Pour the remaining jalapeno puree over the brisket, and then juice the lemon over the top.  Cover and roast at 450F for 30 minutes.  Reduce the heat to 250F and slow roast for 6 - 8 hours.
 
Add additional stock to the bottom of the pan if it becomes dry.  Remove from the oven and let rest for 30 minutes before serving.  Slice across the grain to serve.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Garnish with fresh jalapeno slices and slivers.
 
Unbelievable on a Cornmeal Biscuit.

1 comment:

  1. this is on the list of one to try. sweet spicy and delicious!

    ReplyDelete