This dish is inspired by Mexican carnitas (“little meats”), traditionally made by braising pork in fat, often with citrus, spices, and aromatics. I swap the pork for brisket and braise it for hours in a similar mixture, along with cola. I am not a soda person, but Coke really is the secret ingredient to this recipe. It tenderizes the meat, and the sugars from 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 that is used in the United States. However, if you can’t find Mexican Coke, use regular Coke or even stock with a little brown sugar as a substitute.
You can make this brisket for Passover and serve it in a lettuce wrap.
Did you know that according to Kabbalah there are sparks of divinity embedded in everything we eat? Eating with mindful intention helps to “elevate” and incorporate these sparks. Get more Jewish food thoughts here.
SERVES 4 TO 6
- 2 pounds brisket, trimmed of excess fat, cut in half crosswise
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ medium yellow onion, cut into wedges
- 4 large garlic cloves, smashed
- Juice of 2 limes
- Juice of 1 orange
- ½ cup Mexican Coca-Cola (see headnote)
- 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 COLA-BRAISED BRISKET ON THE STOVETOP In a Dutch oven set over medium-high heat, combine the brisket, salt, pepper, oregano, cumin, chili powder, cinnamon, onion, garlic, lime juice, orange juice, cola, and bay leaf. Partially cover it with a lid and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 3 to 3½ hours, until the meat is fork-tender, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. If the liquid drops halfway below the meat, add enough water to just barely cover the brisket and stir to incorporate. When it’s done, remove the brisket and place it on a cutting board, reserving the braising liquid. Using two forks, shred the meat into thin strands.
- TO MAKE THE COLA-BRAISED BRISKET IN A SLOW COOKER In a 6-quart slow cooker, combine the brisket, salt, pepper, oregano, cumin, chili powder, cinnamon, onion, garlic, lime juice, orange juice, cola, and bay leaf. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours, or on high for 5 to 6 hours, until tender. Remove the brisket and place it on a cutting board, reserving the liquid in the cooker. Using two forks, shred the meat into thin strands.
- Preheat the broiler to high and arrange a rack in the upper third of the oven. Lightly spray a sheet pan with cooking oil. Transfer the shredded beef onto the sheet pan and pour 1 cup of the reserved cooking liquid over the meat. Broil until the meat becomes browned and crispy on the edges, 5 to 10 minutes.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper. Just before serving, pour more of the cooking liquid over the meat for added flavor.
- TO ASSEMBLE Carefully char 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 stove, preheat the oven to a high broil, place a rack in the upper third, and line a sheet pan with foil. Warm the tortillas under the broiler until slightly charred, 2 to 4 minutes.)
- Spoon a few tablespoons of the brisket into the middle of each tortilla. Top 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.