The Mexican beef brisket recipe you’ve been waiting for.
This dish is inspired by Mexican carnitas (“small meats”), traditionally prepared by braising pork in fat, often with citrus fruits, spices and herbs. I swap the pork for brisket and braise it for hours in a similar mixture, with cola. I’m not a fan of sodas, but coke is really the secret ingredient in this recipe. It tenderizes the meat and the sugars in the soda add a rich caramel note. Mexican coke is ideal for this recipe because it is sweetened with cane sugar instead of the corn syrup used in the United States. However, if you can’t find Mexican coke, use regular coke or even broth with a little brown sugar as a substitute.
You can make this breast for Passover and serve it in a lettuce wrap.
FOR 4 TO 6 PEOPLE
- 2 pounds beef brisket, trimmed of excess fat, halved crosswise
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more if needed
- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more if needed
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon chilli powder
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ medium yellow onion, quartered
- 4 large crushed garlic cloves
- Juice of 2 limes
- Juice of 1 orange
- ½ cup Mexican Coca-Cola (see main note)
- 1 bay leaf
- 8 (6 inch) corn tortillas
- pico de gallo
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1 lime, cut into wedges
- 1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced
- TO MAKE THE STOVETOP COLA BRAISED BREAST In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, combine the breast, salt, pepper, oregano, cumin, chili powder, cinnamon, onion, garlic, lime juice, orange juice, cola, and bay leaf. Partially cover with a lid and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 3 to 3.5 hours, until the meat is fork tender, stirring occasionally to avoid that it does not stick. If the liquid falls halfway under the meat, add enough water to barely cover the breast and stir to incorporate. When done, remove the brisket and place it on a cutting board, reserving the braising liquid. Using two forks, shred the meat into thin strips.
- TO MAKE THE COLA BRAISED BREAST IN A SLOW COOKER In a 6-quart slow cooker, combine brisket, salt, pepper, oregano, cumin, chili powder, cinnamon, onion, garlic, lime juice, orange juice, cola and leaf berry. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 5-6 hours, until tender. Remove the breast and place it on a cutting board, reserving the liquid in the slow cooker. Using two forks, shred the meat into thin strips.
- Preheat the grill to high heat and place a rack in the upper third of the oven. Lightly spray a baking sheet with cooking oil. Transfer the shredded beef to the baking sheet and pour 1 cup of the reserved cooking liquid over the meat. Grill until the meat is browned and crispy around the edges, 5 to 10 minutes.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper. Just before serving, pour more cooking liquid over the meat for extra flavor.
- TO ASSEMBLE Carefully toast the tortillas over an open flame on a gas grill or stovetop until charred around the edges. (Alternatively, if you don’t have a gas grill or stovetop, preheat the oven to high, place a rack in the top third, and line a baking sheet with foil. Reheat the tortillas under the broiler until charred, 2-4 min.)
- Place a few tablespoons of beef brisket in the middle of each tortilla. Garnish with pico de gallo, cilantro, a squeeze of lime juice and sliced avocado. Serve immediately.
Reprinted with permission from Eitan Eats the World. Copyright © 2022 by Eitan Bernath. Photography Copyright © 2022 by Mark Weinberg. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House.