Thursday 27 February 2014

Smoked brisket

We've had a 6.5kg packer cut brisket in the freezer for far too long. We bought it with delusions of having many people over for a barbecue, but frankly we don't know many people, and sadly we don't have quite enough temperature control in the Weber to give a piece of meat that large the long (12 hour) slow cook it needs to attain succulence.

So we decided to approach it a couple of different ways. We cut off approximately 1/3, which Paul trimmed up (some fat is good, but we didn't need all of it and it is a very fatty cut) and made into a delicious curry. That curry made a dinner and two lunches for us, and we still had the other 2/3 of the meat.

I tend to do some of my best thinking in bed in the morning, in the gap between waking and rising. And as I lay there I wondered about a sort of hybrid approach to barbecuing the brisket. Starting it in the barbecue to get a good bark and smoke into it, and then moving it into the oven for a long, slow cook to break down the connective tissues and render out the fat. I ran the idea past Paul as we drank our morning coffee, and he thought I was onto something. So we found ourselves at 11 in the morning lighting the barbecue.
I rubbed the brisket with a sprinkle of vinegar, then a mixture of salt, sugar, smoked paprika and garlic powder and let it sit for an hour. Then it went into quite a cool barbecue, with lots of mesquite chips (replenished a couple of times).
Meat thermometer says magic internal temperature of 85C
After two hours, the brisket came into the house. Onto a rack in a roasting tin with some water in the bottom, tented in foil and into a 120C oven for 6 1/2 hours, until it reached an internal temperature of 85C.
That night we had some of it in tacos, with a smear of homemade chipotle paste, a pepper, avocado and tomato salsa and a little grated cheese. So delicious. Really smokey, tender meat and crunchy burnt ends worked so well with the spicy chipotle paste, fresh salsa and the soothing creamy cheese.
The following night I removed most of the visible fat (since it had already done its job of keeping the meat moist through the long cooking time) from the leftovers and cut the meat up into big chunks. I made a batch of this delicious and not overwhelmingly sweet chipotle-maple barbecue sauce and gently reheated the brisket in it.

When I made the sweet and sour pork the other day, I'd had a couple of pork chops left over. Rather than use them all for the sweet and sour (since deepfried food doesn't re-heat brilliantly) I put them in some of our biltong curing mix and left it in the fridge for a couple of days to cure. That cured pork became the main flavouring in a huge pot of spring greens, which then sat alongside the barbecued pork and a pile of creamy grits (and the rest of the greens went into another pot with chicken, prawns and rice for a sort of jambalaya the following night. I love transforming leftovers).
I know grits are divisive, but I really like them. And they really were the perfect accompaniment to sweet, smoky and spicy brisket and slippery, salty greens.

That still wasn't the end of the brisket, of course, so it made its final appearance reheated in a torta, piled with guacamole given crunch with diced cucumber and spring onions. It was a very meat-heavy week for us, so it'll be fish and vegetables for a few days. Although I now have a big pot of rendered beef dripping, so I may have to contemplate Yorkshire-style fish and chips at some point.


wildtomato said...

That looks delicious! I lived on juicy (fatty) brisket in Texas - I think I gained 10 lbs, but it was so worth it.

Kavey said...

Wow, half a cow right there! Impressed with how much you did with it!

Joanne said...

You did a great job with this! Good thinking on the bbq-to-oven method!

grace said...

i LOVE grits, especially when juicy meats are involved. your brisket looks amazing!

Alicia Foodycat said...

Wildtomato - I bet you did! It's so hard to resist but I would be the size of a house if I ate it regularly!

Kavey - we could have made it go even further with a few more side dishes.

Joanne - I was really happy with the method! Worked as I'd hoped it would.

Grace - I don't know why some people don't like them, but they really don't.

leaf (the indolent cook) said...

You're making me seriously hungry here... all that juicy, tender meat! You did very, very well dealing with that massive brisket!


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