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Recipe  •  11 October 2022


Soft Tacos with Shredded Brisket and Tomatillos

Since we realised we could make tortillas with wheat flour and our own rendered lard, we’ve never looked back.

They are super-easy to make, and have become a regular part of our ‘Whole Hog’ class, filled with shredded pork shoulder. The beef brisket used here also makes a wonderful filling – I love the way it shreds into neat strands.

A staple of Mexican food, tomatillos are a close relative of the tomato and are really easy to grow; if anything, you’ll need to be vigilant to ensure they don’t become weeds. We pickle our home-grown tomatillos to serve with this, but canned tomatillos in brine can be used instead. These are available from select delicatessens and Mexican food stores, where you’ll also find dried chipotle chillies.

Serves 6

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or lard
  • 1 brown onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 5 kg beef brisket, cut into 3 cm pieces
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 2 dried chipotle chillies, crumbled
  • 500 ml (2 cups) tomato passata
  • sea salt and freshly ground
  • black pepper
  • 2 long red chillies, thinly sliced
  • chopped coriander, to serve
  • pickled tomatillos, to serve (optional)

wheat flour tortillas

  • 450 g plain flour
  • 120 g cold lard, chopped

Heat oil or lard in a heavy-based saucepan with a lid, add onion and garlic and sauté over low heat until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Increase heat to medium–high, add beef and cook, turning occasionally, until browned. Add spices and stir until fragrant, then add tomato passata and bring to a simmer. Cover and allow to gently simmer until meat easily falls apart, about 3 hours.

Meanwhile, to make tortillas, place flour in a large bowl. Add lard and, using your fingertips, rub in until mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Stir 1 teaspoon salt into 250 ml (1 cup) cold water. Make a well in the centre of flour, then pour in the salted water and mix until combined. On a lightly floured surface, knead dough until smooth and elastic. Wrap dough in plastic film and set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Remove beef from pan and, using two forks, coarsely shred the meat, then return to sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper and place over low heat to keep warm.

Heat a flat griddle or large heavy-based frying pan over low heat. Roll a tablespoon of dough into a circle about 15 cm in diameter, then place on griddle plate or in pan and cook for 1–2 minutes each side, or until just coloured. Repeat with remaining dough, covering the cooked tortillas with a clean tea towel to keep them warm and soft.

Spoon shredded beef into tortillas and serve scattered with chilli, coriander and tomatillos, if using.

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