I have a special place in my heart for southern food and flavors. Until I can convince my wife to try pulled pork (she won’t be able to fight it forever once we’re in North Carolina!), I have to find other ways to quell my cravings. This is such a dish. My thinking? Fried chicken and waffles are a beautiful combo…same goes for meat and potatoes… so why not serve pulled beef (instead of pork) over sweet potato waffles?
Now I know this one sounds strange, but this was incredible. This begins by making a barbecue sauce where the big players are chiles, tomatoes, and tamarind–fruity, earthy, spicy, sweet, sour–there’s a lot of flavor going on. The tamarind flavor was distinctly present, but not overpoweringly so while the chiles gave a very solid flavor backbone to the sauce. The brisket is then braised in the sauce for hours, pulled and shredded, and tossed in the sauce. Finally, this is piled on top of a sweet potato waffle, which had great color, a bit of tanginess (from sour cream), and tremendous flavor. Plus, these waffles are the perfect vessel to ensure no sauce or juiciness escapes your fork.
- ~3 lb beef brisket
- Chile Tamarind BBQ Sauce
- 1 head garlic
- 6 pasilla chiles
- 8 guajillo chiles
- 2 chile de arbol
- 1.5 tsp oregano
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 tsp cumin
- 2 cup chicken broth
- salt to taste
- 1 shallot
- 1/2 block pressed tamarind (~3.5 oz)
- 14 oz canned tomatoes
- 1/4 cup molasses
- Optional: 1/8-1/4 cup honey
- Sweet Potato Waffles
- 3 cup flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 Tbsp baking powder
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 2 cup whole milk
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 cup mashed baked sweet potatoes
- 8 Tbsp (1 stick) butter
- 6 large eggs
The first thing you need to prepare is the sauce. Break up a head of garlic but don’t peel the paper off of the cloves. Add these to a medium-high heat, dry pan, roasting for about 15 minutes, flipping periodically. Don’t worry if the paper blackens in spots. When time is up, remove from the pan, allow to cool a bit, and squeeze the garlic out of the paper.
While this is going on, toast the stemmed, seeded, dry chiles in the same dry pan. Press them firmly down in the pan for 10-15 seconds on both sides and then reconstitute in warm water for roughly 30 minutes. Stir periodically to ensure all chilies soak well.
Drain off the water and puree the spices, rehydrated chiles, garlic, and 1 cup of broth in a food processor until blended to a fine paste. Push this through a strainer.
In a hot pan, warm up 1.5 Tbsp vegtable oil. Fry the very finely minced shallot for 3 minutes in the oil, and then, carefully add the chili paste, constantly stirring and frying for roughly 7 minutes.
In parallel with all of this, work on the tamarind paste. Boil a 1/2 cup of water, add the broken up tamarind, cover the pot, and remove from heat. After 20 minutes, press through a ricer and reserve this paste.
So with tamarind paste ready and the chili paste fried, add the tamarind paste to the pot along with the tomato, molasses, and remaining 1 cup of broth. Adjust seasoning to taste and simmer over medium low heat for 15 minutes.
With the sauce ready, on to the beef. Season all sides with salt, pepper, and a dash of allspice. Then, brown on all sides for roughly 2 minutes each. With that done, deglaze the pan with the barbecue sauce and submerge the beef. Raise to a boil, cover the pot, and transfer to a 350°F oven for 3 hours, flipping the beef once halfway through.
When time is up, you may have a bit of fat pooled on top of the sauce. Do your best to skim this off, remove the beef from the pot, and reduce the sauce for 5-10 minutes.
Once the beef is cool enough for you to handle, cut against the grain in a few places and then go at it with two forks to shred the meat.
Now, taste the barbecue sauce. If you want to balance it with a touch of sweetness, add 1/8-1/4 cup of honey and simmer on low for 5 minutes.
Finally, toss the shredded beef in a good bit of the sauce, reserving some for use on the side or as a garnish.
During the later stages of cooking the beef, you should concern yourself with preparing the sweet potato waffles (cooking the actual waffles is something you should do at the last possible moment, though). Begin by cooking the sweet potatoes, whether it be by boiling or roasting them. I split mine in half, rubbed with oil, and roasted in a 400°F over for about 45 minutes (or until fork tender), after which, I discarded the skin. However you cook yours, mash/puree the cooked sweet potato and set it aside to cool down.
In one bowl, mix all of the dry ingredients (except for the sugar). In another, beat the egg yolks and sugar until lightened in color. Then, beat in the milk, sour cream, mashed sweet potato, and melted butter. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
Mix the dry bowl into the wet bowl, stirring only as much as is necessary to incorporate–do not overbeat! Then, gently fold in the egg whites. Finally, cook the waffles according to whatever is appropriate for your waffle maker.
Finally, with the waffles ready and the beef shredded, promptly pile some beef on a freshly made waffle, add a bit of sauce, and dig in. Enjoy!