Brisket is comfort food, there’s no doubt about it. It’s nothing fancy, just
a big ‘ol piece of meat slow-cooked until tender, but man, is it good. In this recipe, traditional brisket is given Southwest flair with spices, peppers and pickled jalapenos. You can even add cilantro, if you like.
This recipe is loaded with peppers, both sweet and spicy. The bell peppers slow cook along with the meat, and the jalapeños are quick-pickled with vinegar and used as a garnish. Peppers are there for Southwest flavor, but also because they have vitamin C and B and carotene, and the capsaicin in the spicy ones can potentially be an effective anti-inflammatory.
This is a plan-ahead type of recipe, one you might want to start on the weekend with the intent of feasting early in the week. Mainly because time is brisket’s best friend. Time to soak up the seasoning, time to cook, and time to lie around before being reheated and eaten.
Time in the Kitchen:
Plan ahead! Brisket tends to taste better and be most tender if it’s seasoned the night before it’s cooked, and then cooked a day before it’s eaten. On the day you plan to eat the brisket, simply re-heat it in the oven.
Day 1: Buy and season the brisket. Let it rest overnight in the refrigerator.
Day 2: Cook the brisket and make the pickled jalapeños. (1 hour of hands-on cooking time, plus 3 hours in the oven)
Day 3: Re-heat the brisket (35 minutes)
Mix together the salt, black pepper, chili powder and cumin. Rub the spices all over the brisket. Cover and refrigerate overnight (or at the very least, 4 hours.) Let meat stand at room temperature 30 minutes before cooking.
The day before, or at least 4 hours before, pickle the jalapeños. In a small saucepan, heat the vinegar, water, salt, sugar and bay leaf until it’s simmering, and the salt and sugar dissolve.
Add the jalapeños, onion and garlic. Turn off the heat and cover. Let stand 20 minutes.
Pour into a clean jar. Let cool, then cover and refrigerate.
When you’re ready to cook the brisket, heat oven to 325 °F/163 °C.
Heat a large Dutch oven on the stove. Add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add brisket and sear 4 to 5 minutes per side until each side is nicely browned. Remove meat from the Dutch oven. (If the brisket is too large to fit into any of your pots, it can be cut in half or thirds)
Add onions and garlic to the pot (adding more oil if necessary) and reduce the heat to medium. Cook onions until golden brown and soft, about 10 minutes.
Pour in the wine and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Bring the liquid to a simmer for 5 minutes. Add the bell peppers and bay leaf. Add the meat back to the pot. Cover and transfer to the oven.
Cook, turning every 30 minutes, until meat is very soft and fork tender, about 3 hours. For the last 30 minutes, remove the lid so the liquid reduces some. Keep an eye on the meat; if it gets too brown, put the lid back on.
Let the brisket cool, then cover and refrigerate overnight. The next day, scrape off any excess fat, if desired. Reheat the brisket in the same pot, covered, for 30 to 40 minutes in a 350 °F/177 °C oven.
Slice the meat against the grain and serve with the pickled jalapeños on top.