Southwestern Pulled Brisket

3 pounds beef brisket
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
5 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 Spanish onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups water
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, with their juices
1 to 2 whole canned chipotle chiles en adobo
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup molasses

For serving:
Soft sandwich buns or small soft tortillas. (Plus slaw, pickled onions and/or pickled jalapeños)

Season the beef generously with salt and pepper, to taste. Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil and heat just until beginning to smoke. Add the meat and cook, turning once, until browned on both sides, about 10 minutes total. Transfer the meat to the slow cooker; leave the skillet on the heat.

Add garlic, onion, chili powder, coriander, and cumin to drippings in the skillet and stir until fragrant, about one minute. Add vinegar and boil until it’s almost gone, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Stir in water and pour the mixture over the brisket. Crush the tomatoes through your fingers into the slow cooker; add the tomato juices, chipotles, bay leaves, and molasses. Cover the cooker, set it on LOW, and cook the brisket until it pulls apart easily with a fork, about 8 to 10 hours.

Two options for serving:
Leave the meat in the slow cooker and use two forks to pull it apart and stir it evenly into the sauce; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Remove and discard bay leaves.

Strain the sauce to remove the vegetables and bay leaves, chill it so the fat ise easy to remove, then reheat and reseason it well, simmering it down (to about 2/3 the volume) to thicken it a bit. Pour the sauce back over the brisket as you pull it, then reheat the whole pan on low.

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