The weather has decided to cooperate with my ambitions to make the perfect barbecued pizza, burgers and brisket. We're having the best summer since we arrived in England 4 years ago, with sunny skies, hot temperatures and not too much wind. Ideal for barbecuing! Unfortunately Paul has just started a job up in the North of England, so he's only home on weekends at the moment, which is limiting my time for experimenting.
But we have had some fantastic successes!
We had a houseguest staying a few weeks ago (the friend whose dating technique was commemorated in this post) and I decided he'd probably had enough rich, fancy food on his trip and needed something basic and homely. Burgers seemed to be the right thing for the occasion.
He was very, very sceptical when I told him that it was just going to be beef, salt and pepper and started telling me about these amazing burgers with egg and breadcrumbs and Worcestershire, cumin seeds and mustard and god knows what else in them. And I told him that these were going to be beef with salt and pepper and if he didn't like it he could get the hell out of my kitchen.
I didn't have time to make burger buns, so I cut some slices of sourdough bread and toasted them on the barbecue while the cooked burgers were resting, then I rubbed the toasted bread with a clove of garlic and a drizzle of olive oil.
The burgers were ever so slightly over cooked, but the flavour was perfect and the garlic toast was just the right thing underneath them. And our guest agreed that they didn't need any fillers or binders or anything else to give them flavour.
Then last weekend we had enough free time to devote to barbecuing a brisket. In America (Texas particularly, I believe) they take the cooking of barbecue extremely seriously and have cook-offs where people virtually come to blows over the right way to do things, so it feels slightly audacious to be presenting my Australian/English version of barbecued brisket on Independence Day. But no offence is intended!
This was a small, 3lb brisket, so I couldn't do the sort of 12 hour cook that some recipes recommend, but I figured that an hour per pound on an indirect heat was probably going to be about right. A lot of the recipes seem to be more about the basting sauces and marinades than the meat itself, but I found this recipe for a dry rub, which sounded good to me. The big thing about the recipe is that it contains no sugar, which appealled from a flavour point of view and also made it less likely to burn.
We cooked it on indirect heat, covered, with hickory chips, placing the vent on the barbecue to encourage the flow of smoke over the meat and turned it over twice.
As you can see, after the 3 hours and a short rest, the meat was still succulent and juicy, and we had a really good penetration of smoke. The flavour from the rub was excellent. The leftovers were gorgeous cold!
I don't think this was the definitive brisket, but it was certainly very successful.