Big TX Brisket Bock Bucatini with Mini Rellenos and Cilantro Pesto

I am so excited and a little shocked that I was recently accepted to compete in Barilla's Represent Your Region Contest! Competitors were sent an assortment of Barilla pastas and challenged to create a dish inspired by their region. As I brainstormed what to make to represent Texas the best, I was overwhelmed with the list of ideas I had. I managed to edit it down and I am really excited with what I came up with!
I made a Tex-Mex braised beef brisket sauce loaded with chiles, smoked salt and Shiner Bock beer and tossed that with Barilla's bucatini pasta. Drizzled on top is my Tex-Mex spin on a pesto with cilantro, lime and pepitas. The crowning glory is my "Mini Rellenos" - roasted jalapenos stuffed with cheese and fried just like their tex mex big brother Chiles Rellenos!
The grand prize for this contest is an all expense paid Culinary Weekend experience at Barilla’s annual Modern Casual retreat at Farmer Lee Jones'Culinary Vegetable Institute in Cleveland, OH!!! There's also a people's choice award up for grabs, so if you can, hop on over HERE and give my recipe a vote!
3 dried guajillo chiles, stems and seeds removed
2 cups boiling water
1 Tablespoon ancho chile powder
4 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons ground toasted cumin seeds
1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
1 teaspoon ground toasted coriander
1 teaspoon smoked Mexican sea salt       
1 14.5 ounce can fire roasted tomatoes with garlic
3 pounds beef brisket
1 Tablespoon kosher salt
2 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon canola oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 large poblano pepper, chopped with seeds and stem removed
12 ounces Shiner Bock beer

1 cup packed cilantro leaves
2 Tablespoons lime juice
1 small clove garlic
1 Tablespoon minced jalapeno pepper
2 Tablespoons  olive oil 
1 Tablespoon salted roasted pepitas
1/2 teaspoon smoked Mexican sea salt       

6 large jalapeno peppers
4 ounces oaxaca cheese, cut into 6 sticks
4 cups frying oil
2 egg whites, at room temperature
1 egg yolk, at room temperature
1/2 cup flour


1 Tablespoon kosher salt
1 12-ounce package Barilla Bucatini


Preheat oven to 350°F.

Place chiles in a medium bowl. Pour the boiling water over them and place a small glass plate on top to weigh them down. Soak until chiles soften, at least 30 minutes.
Place chiles in blender along with the soaking liquid, chili powder, garlic, cumin seeds, oregano, coriander, smoked salt and tomatoes; blend until smooth.

Pat beef dry, remove excess fat and cut into 3 inch cubes. Sprinkle with kosher salt. Melt the butter and oil over high heat in a large heavy based pot. Working in batches, add brisket and sear on all sides until browned, then remove to a plate and set aside. Turn heat down to medium low and add the chopped onion and poblano. Sauté for 5 minutes, or until the vegetables have softened. Add the beer, brisket (add the juices too) and the chile puree.

Bring the mixture to a simmer. Cover and place in oven for 2 hours. Uncover and continue to cook about 1 hour longer or until the beef is tender enough to pull apart with forks and the liquid has reduced to be a thick sauce.

While the brisket is cooking, place the cilantro, lime juice, garlic, jalapeno, olive oil, pepitas and salt in a small food processor and blend until smooth.  Pour mixture into a squirt bottle for later use.

Remove the brisket from the sauce onto a large sheet tray. Skim off any fat from surface of sauce and shred the brisket coarsely with two forks, discarding any remaining fat. Return the shredded meat to the sauce, cover the pot and set aside until ready to serve.

Place the jalapenos over a gas flame or underneath the broiler and char until they are blackened on all sides. Place them in a bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and let stand for 10 minutes. Peel the charred skin off and carefully make a small slit one side of the pepper. Fill the peppers with the cheese and secure with a toothpick. In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, pour in oil and heat over medium-high heat until the oil reaches 375 degrees. Beat the egg whites in a medium mixing bowl until soft peaks form. Add the egg yolk and continue to beat until combined. Dredge the filled peppers in flour, shake off any excess, then dip the into the egg mixture. Fry until golden brown, about 3-5 minutes and drain on a cooling rack placed on a cookie sheet.

Bring a very large pot of water up to a boil over high heat. Add 1 Tablespoon of salt and add pasta and cook until al dente, about 7 minutes.

When the pasta is ready, reserve 3 cups of the pasta water and drain. Add the pasta to the ragu mixture, along with 1 cup of the reserved pasta water and stir to combine. Gently toss the pasta over medium high heat for 3-5 minutes, until the sauce coats the pasta.

To serve, place a serving of pasta in a large bowl, drizzle with the cilantro vinaigrette and top with mini rellenos. Serve immediately, makes 6 servings.

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