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Kim Laidlaw’s Quick Slow Cooking is devoted to letting you make the most of your slow cooker. In the process, she lets you have some real-world cooking experiences. We think of tacos as the ultimate fast food: some ground meat, a package of “flavorings,” some quick time on the stovetop and you are done. You have a taco, a Taco Bell class taco.

There are other ways and better flavor experience. Now, brisket is not the most favored of beef cuts. It needs to cook for a long time, with careful preparation, to achieve tenderness. It is, in fact, the ideal meat for a slow cooker. All you need is brisket, some seasonings and, of course, some beer. Cook for hours and hours, and there is this miracle: brisket is transformed into the ultimate taco delight.

This is a great weekend recipe. The brisket needs to sit overnight, after having been rubbed with spices. The next morning, the brisket and beer enter the slow cooker for an 8-10 hour odyssey. After that time in the slow cooker, the brisket is ready to be pulled apart — just like pulled pork — with a pair of forks. You can garnish with some or even all of the suggested adornments in the ingredients list.

If you have a choice between ground beef and shredded, slow-cooked brisket, I’m pretty sure that the first bite of brisket is going to revolutionize your taco experience. Just a warning: once you convert to brisket prepared this detailed way, there’s no going back to those foil bags of “flavorings.”

Chili-Rubbed Brisket Tacos

Yield: 8-10 servings


  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 center-cut beef brisket, about 6 pounds, fat layer trimmed to ½ thick
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 bottle (12 fluid ounces) lager-style beer
  • Corn or flour tortillas, about 6 inches in diameter, warmed
  • Pickled red onions, jalapeno slices, thinly sliced radishes, fresh cilantro leaves, tomatillo salsa, sour cream, or other favorite taco toppings for serving


PREP In a small bowl, stir together the chili powder, pepper, sugar, onion powder, dry mustard, and 1 tablespoon salt until well combined. Rub the brisket all over with the spice mixture. Cut the brisket in half crosswise, then wrap both halves in aluminum foil or place in an airtight container and refrigerate overnight or up to 24 hours.

SLOW COOK Transfer the brisket halves to a slow cooker, placing them in as even a layer as possible. Sprinkle the onion over the top and pour the beer into the cooker along the edge of the insert. Cover and cook on the low-heat setting for 8—10 hours. The brisket should be fork-tender.

ASSEMBLE Transfer the brisket to a platter. Using 2 forks, shred the brisket into bite-size pieces, discarding any large pieces of fat. Using a large spoon, spoon off and discard as much fat as possible from the surface of the cooking liquid. Moisten the brisket with some of the warm cooking liquid. Assemble the taco toppings.

SERVE Set the platter of brisket on the table. Accompany with tortillas and the toppings for diners to make their own tacos.

Source: Quick Slow Cooking by Kim Laidlaw [Weldon Owen, 2014]