Brisket slices on plate with sides of carrots, potatoes, and braising sauce

Chile-braised Brisket

This is adapted from a long-ago Epicurious recipe for short ribs. It’s a complex flavor profile—spiciness from chiles, bitterness from coffee, slight sweetness from maple syrup, and acidity from lime juice—but it blends together in a warming and delicious symphony of taste. The slow cooking brings the brisket to the peak of tenderness. You can serve this over a bed of mashed potatoes or polenta, but it’s also good with crispy smashed potatoes on the side. If there are any leftovers, shred them for tacos or add to mac and cheese for a second tasty meal.

Serves 6-8

  • 4-6 dried red chile pods, seeds and stems removed
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 large onion, cut into chunks
  • 6 whole cloves garlic
  • 3 chipotles in adobo, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons adobo sauce
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 5 pound grass-fed brisket flat
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup coffee

Cover the chile pods with boiling water and allow to sit for about 20 minutes until soft. Drain, reserving the soaking water.

Add the chile pods, onion, garlic, chipotles and adobo sauce, maple syrup, lime juice and kosher salt to the jar of a blender. Puree until smooth.

Heat the oven to 275°. 

Pat dry the brisket and sprinkle with salt and pepper. In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Brown the brisket in the oil on both sides. Remove to a plate.

Reduce heat and carefully pour the puree into the pot. It will splatter, so use caution. Stir and deglaze the pot, scraping up all the brown bits. Cook until the puree darkens a bit, about five minutes. Stir in 1 ½ cups of the soaking liquid and the coffee and bring to a boil. Return the brisket, along with any juices, to the pot and bring the liquid to a simmer. It should almost cover the brisket. If not, add a little water.

Cover the pot and place in the oven. Check in 15 minutes to make sure the liquid is at a simmer. If not, adjust the temperature up or down by 15 degrees and check again in 15 minutes. The liquid should never boil.

Leave in the oven for 3-4 hours. When the braising is finished, remove the pot from the oven. At this point you can proceed with the recipe or allow the pot to cool uncovered, and then cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Remove any fat from the pot and proceed with the recipe.

Remove the brisket to a cutting board and keep warm. Return the pot to the heat. Boil the braising liquid until reduced and thickened, about 8 minutes. Slice the brisket and serve with the sauce on the side.