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We have friends who host an annual Cinco de Mayo party. Because of my book tour schedule, we’re not going to be able to make the hour plus drive out for the festivities this year. I’m sad to miss the chance to catch up with them and to dig in to the exceptionally good spread of food they always cook up.
Since we’re missing out on carne asada and the largest bowl of guacamole I’ve ever seen, I’ve been plotting a substitute meal. It won’t be as festive and community-oriented as our gathering of friends, but it will calm the worst of the Tex Mex cravings.
As my starting place, I’m using Ree Drummond’s recipe for Brisket Tostadas. She has you marinate and then braise a large hunk of brisket until it’s tender and shred-able. Once the meat is ready, layer it on toasted corn tortillas with cheese, black beans, salsa and cubed avocado. Perfect for a Cinco de Mayo celebration and your very next Weekender.
Before you start cooking, read these tips:
— Read the recipe carefully, as the meat needs a good amount of time to marinate and then braise. I like to marinate the meat on Friday night, cook it throughout the day on Saturday and serve it on Sunday.
— Feel free to use the recipe as a basic starting place. Most of us don’t need 10 pounds of brisket. I always cut the meat way back and really load up on the vegetable toppings.
— This meal also makes an exceptional salad. Fill a bowl with chopped romaine lettuce and then top it with a bit of the shredded meat and all the garnishes. I use a dollop of sour cream as my dressing, but a simple vinaigrette is also good.
Marisa McClellan is a food writer and canning teacher who lives in Center City Philadelphia. Find more of her food (all cooked up in her 80-square-foot kitchen) at her blog, Food in Jars. Her second cookbook, Preserving by the Pint: Quick Seasonal Canning for Small Spaces, is now available.