If you have never had beef brisket you have never lived in Texas. A huge beef brisket is a must have at nearly any summer celebration from Memorial Day to a family reunion, and there are as many arguments about making a good one as there are about whether or not Texas should succeed from the Union.
If you didn’t know THAT was a common conversation then you haven’t even VISITED here. Another thing you must know is that it can be spelled barbeque or barbecue. I will probably spell it both ways in the course of writing this because spell check doesn’t like barbeque and I don’t like little red lines…but barbeque is my normal spelling.
Anyway, brisket is one of those things that is either the best stuff in the universe or absolutely blah. The secret is cooking it a long time at a low temperature.
Now, many guys around here have built their own smokers and such, and have particular ways of handling that. I am not even going there right now because I am way out of my league when you start talking about smokers, wood chips and all. I have done a little of that but it is not my forte by a long shot! However, doing a brisket in the oven? THAT I can do, and I do it very, very well.
The mistake that many people make is to douse the meat with barbecue sauce before roasting. Nope. The barbecue sauce is a go with, a side dish. If you cook the meat in it neither tastes as good as if you do them separately.
How to Choose a Great Brisket
Do not get a brisket that has been trimmed. The fat allows the flavor to be intense. If you get home and find you have an excessive amount of fat, trim sparingly if you must. When you are looking at briskets, pick up the package and see if you can “fold” the brisket in the plastic package (obviously this won’t work if it is on a tray). You want it to be flexible. This will indicate it is tender.
Get a whole one. Yes a whole one. I know it is huge. That is fine..you can freeze what you don’t eat. Brisket is great for OAMC because it freezes very well and thaws even more tender than when it was first cooked. The trick to that is to slice it up and pour the meat juices over it before freezing.
Is it really that simple? Yup.
To Cook the Brisket
Get a large pan. Take the brisket out of the plastic cry-o-vac and rinse it. Blot off the water, you don’t want that.
You are going to wrap the brisket in foil, so you will want to piece together a big enough sheet of foil to totally encompass the meat. It takes 2 or 3 sheets with the edges folded together.
This is how I do the meat. It is spicy. Seasoning a brisket is not rocket science so please adjust according to taste!
Now, lay the meat on the foil in the pan. Douse it with liquid smoke. Be generous, 1/4 a cup is about right, but I have been known to pour on a whole bottle. Drizzle about a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce over it. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Now, hit it hard with cracked black pepper. I love black pepper so I make almost a coating on the meat.
Slice up an onion and lay it over the meat then peel and chop 3 cloves of garlic and lay it over the onion. Sprinkle on about a tablespoon of dried chipotle over the top. Seal up an the foil and allow to stand on the counter for 30 minutes while the oven is preheating.
Preheat the oven to 250. YES! 250. The key to a tender cut is slow, very slow cooking. You will cook your 8-12 lb brisket for 12 hours. Put it in before you go to bed and forget about it.
In the morning you are going to be waking up to the most heavenly odor. That brisket is at this point scenting the whole neighborhood and don’t be surprised if you have neighbors knocking at your door with plates and forks in hand.
When the brisket is done remove it from the oven, unwrap and allow to stand for at least 30 minutes before slicing.
You are going to slice across the grain, thin slices, at a slight angle. There will be a point that some of it will fall apart. That’s o.k..that is what we use to make chopped barbeque sandwiches!
Once the meat is sliced you slather on some barbeque sauce, and start poking it in your mouth. Yeah, it is that good.
Do not slow cook your brisket in a slow cooker..it is TOO moist of a heat and the flavor an texture will not be right no matter what anyone says.
For Once A Month Cooking
Proceed exactly as directed above. Slice the meat up and separate into meal size portions. Save the small bits that break up in a separate bowl.
Now, lay the meat in a casserole dish. Pour about 1/4 c of the juice over the meat. You may need more. You want to have the meat soaking in the juices. Cover carefully and freeze. Be sure to label with what it is and the date.
For the little pieces you can just pour barbeque sauce over that and freeze it as chopped barbeque. It makes fantastic sandwiches when piled atop crusty sandwich rolls.
Thaw in the refrigerator and heat for a quick meal.
I have several recipes for barbeque sauce. I will get the posted later this week.
Image: Marye Audet