Rach's quick fix for taco night—she loves the hard shell!—is brisket, thick-cut from any deli counter or grocery store. 

"The suggested sides listed below I made recently for a carnitas feast," Rach says. "Any rice and canned refried beans are fine sides too with very little effort. I use smoked spiced cooked brisket from Perini Ranch, available online—this was sent to me as a gift, I've used it for 3 meals!—but thick-sliced brisket from the deli is great here."     

Mexican-Style Red Rice
Black Beans


  • 2 tablespoons olive or canola oil 
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 poblano peppers, charred under broiler, cooled, peeled and chopped, OR two 4-ounce cans diced green chilies, drained   
  • Salt and pepper
  • About ¾ to 1 pound chopped cooked beef brisket, thick-cut from deli or leftover smoked or braised, trim fat and finely chopped
  • 1 cup water or beef broth or a combo 
  • 1 ½ tablespoons ancho or blended chili powder (palm and a half)  
  • 1 tablespoon paprika or pimenton/smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano (half a palm) 
  • 10 stand-up large hard taco shells 
  • 1 ½ bricks cheese (I use half an 8-ounce brick of Pepper Jack and 1 full brick of Colby  Jack), shredded on wide tooth of box grater
To Serve: 
  • 1 jar taco sauce (medium, hot or mild), OR 1 ½ cups salsa verde, homemade or store-bought
  • ½ head iceberg lettuce, shredded
  • 2 plum or vine tomatoes, seeded and chopped 
  • 1 small white onion, chopped
  • Sliced pickled jalapeño peppers, hot or mild


Serves: 4 to 5


Heat a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat with oil, 2 turns of the pan, add onions, garlic and chilies, and season with salt and pepper, soften a couple of minutes and add meat, combine, add water or broth and spices and lower heat to simmer to allow all liquid to absorb and brisket to get crispy at edges.

Heat oven to 325˚F. Arrange shells on baking sheet and fill with cheese, bake to golden and cheese melted, fill with chopped brisket, top with taco sauce or salsa verde, lettuce, tomato, onion and jalapeno. Serve with sides or refried beans and rice.