Have ya’ll started your Christmas shopping yet? C’mon, fess up…have you really started your shopping yet? Yes, I know you make yummy gifts for people like I do but let’s face it, you can’t make those homemade Christmas candy for everyone on your list. There are those materialistic pricks that you still have to buy stuff for. (And yes, I can call them that because I too am a materialistic prick….I can’t make soup in my hands people, I want and need that saucepan.)
I have not started my shopping yet. Usually by now, I’m actually done. I don’t do my shopping at the physical stores. I’ll probably get my girl card revoked for admitting this, but I hate shopping. I can’t deal with the insufferable workers at the store who offer to help but have no idea where anything is. I especially can’t deal with the other shoppers who have no concept of the fact that other people exist and are in their midst as they shove past, grab from and run over with carts anyone who may be nearby. And don’t get me started on the phantom kids who appear out of nowhere and wreak havoc in the aisles with their screaming, peeing on the floor and racing around with carts (I had no idea that stores had become the new daycare). Give me a monitor and a keyboard and my shopping is complete.
But then there’s Target (or Tar-jhey if you like to feel that you buy everything from a boutique store). Unfortunately, I can’t do all of my shopping online. So for all those other essential things I haul my butt over to Target. Slipping away in the middle of my day to head over there is like heading out for a clandestine meetup with my illicit lover. My local store is one of those super stores that’s really nice inside and even has some designer clothes. I don’t dare wear anything less than my nicest jeans and shoes. I even go so far as to make sure I’m freshly showered and made up. See, just like meeting a lover. I wander around fingering things and salivating over every little thing. I load up my cart (with way more things than I need but each has a sparkling finish and is a reminder of the precious time I spent with my forbidden love) and with each item that lands in the basket I feel myself coming ever closer to climax. When I get home, I rush around putting everything away so as not to give a clue as to my secret rendezvous, but the rosy flush of my cheeks is a dead giveaway. I fear, as much as I need to end this relationship I am unable to resist its charms.
Of course, like any sexed up red blooded American woman the only thing I want to do after working myself into a lather is eat. Okay, maybe I’m weird like that. But I’m smart and weird, because before I left for my little meet up I put a huge pot of meat in the oven (no, that is not a euphemism for sex). No, that pot contained an amazing mixture of ingredients so that when I was ready to chow down, I would have some seriously delicious braised beef. Plus, what better way to cover up my afternoon activities than with a braised brisket to lay before Craig.
Mind you, this isn’t the braised beef brisket that you’re probably thinking of. No, this braised brisket found itself front and center in a machaca recipe that will curl your toes it’s so good.
You’ve probably heard of beef machaca before, but weren’t too sure what it really was. To put it simply, beef machaca is the shredded Mexican beef you find filling tacos and burritos (and I’m not talking about the filling found in those pseudo Mexican food places that rhyme with Schmaco Smell or Gel Schmaco). Nope, this is the shredded Mexican beef that fills those Mexican favorites that you find at real taquerias.
This machaca recipe has lots and lots of different flavors going on. There really isn’t any one that stands out, they all blend really well together. Plus it’s super simple to make. You just need to plan a little ahead, because the meat needs to rest overnight with a rub on it before you can start the braising.
A braised beef dish is something that works really well this time of year. For starters, it makes your kitchen nice and warm (and smell fantastic). But this machaca recipe makes a lot of meat. So you can have this in tacos on the first night and the next day make some gigantic burritos. The other way you can use this braised brisket recipe is for a delicious breakfast. I topped a pile of the meat with two sunny side up eggs and paired it with some refried beans, avocado, sour cream and pico de gallo (see top picture). Egg and shredded Mexican beef is a match made in heaven.
I recently had a conversation with one of my best friends from high school. I love catching up with her because her perspective on things is hilarious. Plus, I had to tell her about my illicit affair with Tar-jhey. Turns out the bastard is two timing me with her. After being away from our hometown for several years, she moved back a couple of years ago (by choice) which is something I have vowed never to to do.
But there are lots of people that we went to school that are still in the area, so we spent some time catching up on what everyone back there has been up to. Which then got me to thinking about the things I’ve learned about boys since high school.
- Going steady is not the be-all end-all. In fact, it pretty much means nothing. It means about as much as when a guy says “don’t worry, I’ll pull out.”
- Writing angsty poetry, love songs and letters that you crumble up in a ball and throw away are pointless. Unless you kept them all and are able to scribble in some pithy dialogue in between, then you might have a billion dollar tear stained YA literary goldmine.
- Boys who kiss like slobbery dogs in high school never learn how to kiss any better. (Proven fact.)
- The boy who chases you throughout high school, will inevitably embarrass you at the first high school reunion you attend, so go alone.
- The really cute boy you crushed on in high school will most likely lose his hair and gain 40 pounds by the time you see him next after graduation.
Recipe: Mexican Braised Beef Machaca
- 4 1/2 Pound Beef Brisket
- 3 Tablespoons Ground Coffee (not instant)
- 3 Tablespoons Kosher Salt
- 3 1/2 Tablespoons Ground Pasilla Chili Pepper
- 2-3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1 1/2 Large Yellow Onions (sliced)
- 2 Dried and Torn Pasilla Chili’s (stems and seeds removed)
- 1/4 Cup Lime Juice
- 1/4 Cup Cider Vinegar
- 2 Cups Tomato Juice
- 1 Cup Dry Red Wine
- 3/4 Cup Water
- 1/2 Cup Brewed Coffee
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 6 Cloves Garlic (chopped)
- 2 Teaspoons Cinnamon
- 1 Tablespoon Cocoa
- 1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
- In a medium size bowl, combine ground coffee, salt and ground chili peppers.
- Pat 1/2 of the mixture onto one side of the brisket.
- Lay the brisket (coated side down) in a 9×13 pan and pat the remainder of the mixture onto the other side of the brisket.
- Cover the pan with foil and refrigerate overnight.
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees Farenheit.
- Cut the brisket in half or thirds (whatever will fit into your largest saute pan).
- Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the saute pan. Once it is hot and shimmering, add one piece of the brisket and sear it for 3-4 minutes per side.
- Continue doing this for each piece of the brisket, using 1 tablespoon of olive oil for each piece.
- Add the remaining ingredients to a large Dutch Oven and stir to combine.
- Add the pieces of brisket into the mixture so that they are at least half submerged.
- Cover and cook for 3 1/2 – 4 hours (cooking time is up to you).
- Remove from oven.
- Fish out the bay leaves and as many of the onions as you can.
- With the lid off, put the Dutch oven over a medium high burner.
- With a large spoon, break up the meat into small pieces. Continue to cook and break up the meat into smaller and smaller pieces.
- Keep cooking until all of t he liquid has been absorbed by the meat.
- Remove from heat and serve up in tacos, burrito or by itself.
To make the pasilla chili powder, I removed the stems and seeds from 3 dried pasilla chili’s and ground them up in a spice grinder. You could use another type of chili powder if you would like something hotter.
Preparation time: 20 minute(s)
Cooking time: 4 hour(s)
Diet tags: Gluten free
Number of servings (yield): 8
Culinary tradition: Mexican