2dried ancho chillies, deseeded, soaked in hot water for 30 minutes to soften (see note)½ cupcoriander stalks, coarsely chopped, leaves reserved for tomatillo salsa6garlic cloves, finely chopped2chipotle chillies in adobo (see note)1 tbsp eachground cumin and ground coriander1 tspdried oregano100 mlolive oil1onion, finely chopped1.6 kgbrisket, cut into 2.5cm pieces400 gmcanned chopped tomatoes300 mlMexican lager, such as Corona1 tbspmalt vinegar1 tbspbrown sugarTamale crust135 gm(2/3 cup) coarse yellow polenta150 gm(1 cup) plain flour1 tspbicarbonate of sodaPinchof sugar200 mlwell-shaken buttermilk2eggs, lightly beaten55 gmbutter, melted100 gmcheddar, coarsely gratedTomatillo salsa250 gmtomatillos, coarsely chopped1pickled japapeño, finely chopped1 cup(loosely packed) coriander, coarsely choppedJuiceof 1 lime
Preheat oven to 160C. Process ancho chillies and 80ml soaking liquid in a small food processor with coriander stalks, garlic, chipotle, cumin, coriander and oregano until smooth.
Heat 50ml oil in a large casserole over medium heat and sauté onion, stirring occasionally, until golden and tender (12-15 minutes). Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
Add remaining oil to casserole, then add brisket in batches and brown on all sides (2-3 minutes each side). Add chilli mixture, sautéed onions, tomatoes, beer, vinegar and sugar, cover then braise in oven until meat is just tender (2-2½ hours). Remove lid and continue cooking until liquid is reduced to sauce consistency and meat is very tender (2-2½ hours). Cool slightly, then break meat into pieces with a fork, season to taste and transfer mixture to a 2.8-litre pie dish or skillet. Increase oven to 180C.
Meanwhile, for tamale crust, combine polenta, flour, bicarbonate of soda and sugar in a bowl. Whisk buttermilk, eggs and butter in a separate bowl, then add to polenta mixture, whisking until smooth. Stir in three-quarters of the cheese, season to taste, spread mixture over brisket, scatter with remaining cheese and bake until golden (35-40 minutes).
For tomatillo salsa, combine ingredients in a bowl, season to taste and serve with the beef brisket pie.
Note Dried ancho chillies are available from
Herbie's Spices and Monterey Mexican Food. Chipotle chillies in
adobo are available from select delicatessens.