Hannah Palmer Egan
With brisket as an anchor, chili catches a waft of Southwestern authenticity.
During last week's cold snap, I cooked a nice, light, brothy soup
— slurpable warmth to ward of the biting Lake Champlain wind. Over the weekend, I wanted to keep the soupy thing going, but I had this beautiful slab of brisket from Shelburne's LaPlatte River Angus Farm
(widely available at local stores) that I had to do something with. Making a nice, slow-cooked, Southwestern-style chili seemed like a fine use for it.
Like most Yankees, I usually use ground meat — a blend of beef and pork, or sometimes turkey — for my chili. But the brisket reminded me that in Colorado (where I lived for years), chile is often riddled with stringy bits of braised, whole cuts of meat. And it's awesome. So I went for it, and served with toasted corn tortillas (heat these directly over an open-flame burner, flipping often, for a toasty, lightly charred result), cheddar and lime. It made a swell dinner — and even better leftovers.
Crock Pot Brisket Chili
- 1 16-ounce can white beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 16-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 28-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes
- 6 tablespoons Chipotle chili powder, divided
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium white onion, diced
- 2 bell peppers, diced
- 3 leaves Napa cabbage, chopped
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 4 tablespoons neutral oil
- 2 pounds beef brisket, cut into two large pieces
- Cheddar cheese, sour cream, lime and corn tortillas, for garnish
- Place the beans, tomatoes and four tablespoons of chili powder in a crock pot on high heat. Mix thoroughly.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat. With two tablespoons oil, sauté the garlic, onions, cabbage and bell peppers, stirring often, until the onions sweeten and all the ingredients begin to blister and brown, 10-15 minutes. Add this to crock pot and stir well.
- Increase the skillet heat to high.
- In a large, shallow dish, mix two tablespoons chili powder with two tablespoons salt. Dredge the brisket in the mixture. Add the remaining oil to the hot pan and sear the chili-coated brisket for two to three minutes on each side, until the meat browns on the edge and the chili powder forms a cakey crust.
- With a wooden spoon, push the bean/veggie mixture to the sides of the crock pot, creating a shallow "nest," or cavity, three or so inches deep. Place the seared meat in the nest, and allow the wet ingredients to flow back toward the center of the pot. You want the tomato/veggie mixture to cover the beef.
- Cook on high, adding 1/2 cup of water at a time, as needed, until the brisket falls apart into stringy bits, 3-4 hours. (You may need to help this process along to speed it up, breaking the brisket pieces apart as they begin to soften.) Stir the brisket into the chili, bring the heat to low, and cook another hour or more.
- Garnish with shredded cheddar, sour cream, lime and warm corn tortillas.