Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The key to extraordinary happiness: brisket

Oh, um, all you vegetarians out there might want to skip this post. Yep.

Dear heavens. Brisket is like when heaven smiles graciously down upon you and then drops ten pounds of succulent, dripping meat unto your waiting plate. Oh, yes. It is that good.

So go off to the store and get a brisket. Note: do not get a piece of meat labeled "Corned Beef Brisket" as such a thing should never touch a human tongue. Get a genuine beef brisket. Mine was about 11 pounds, but just get what you need. (But, really, get a lot.)

Okay, so you have a brisket.

Now what? Well, first thing's first: turn on some country music.

Okay, now put that thing on a big rimmed baking sheet because There Will Be Blood. (Ha! I'm hilarious.) Cut away the packaging, grab a knife and roll up those sleeves because we're a-going trimming.

Whoa, whoa. Not too much, now. Brisket is a tougher cut of meat so you really want to leave a decent layer of fat on it. My cut had a good inch-thick fatty layer but we only want about a third of that. This type of fat isn't like the soft fat marbling in a steak. This stuff is what's called the fat cap (gross) and it's mostly hard suet so it takes a little patience. Just get your knife and make some shallow slashes across the suet and start shaving off a bit at a time. But, really, leave a pretty good layer on there. Make sure to take out any veins or tough spots while you're at it. You will probably have a good bit of trimmings. It will probably gross you out.


Now comes the fun part! We're going to do a spice rub on this guy. Mix together a few spices; I use chili powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, dry mustard and cumin. I don't have strict measurements here but it's probably a very generous teaspoon of each, maybe two of the chili powder, onion powder and garlic powder. Use what you like (and by that I mean you should use what I use because my spice rub is awesome).

Add to those spices half a palmful of kosher salt. Do not, for heavens sake, use table salt! Respect the meat, people.

Mix 'em up real good and sprinkle half the mixture on each side, rubbing it in all the little nooks and creases. Resist the urge to do a face-plant into the meat.

Let the brisket sit for a minute while you go wash your hands and blow your nose because, let's face it, you know you just inhaled chili powder up into your sinuses. Oh, it hurts so good.

I had to cut my brisket in half to fit in a couple 9x11 pans, but if you regularly cook for Andre the Giant's whole family you might have something big enough to accommodate the whole thing. Place it in the pan(s) fat-side down and pour on a simple braising liquid made from some Worcestershire sauce (about 1/3 cup), a couple teaspoons each of vinegar (I used red wine) and Liquid Smoke and about a cup of water.

The step involving spilling two tablespoons of Liquid Smoke on your hands and therefore smelling like a barbecue pit for an entire day is optional. I chose to include it.

If your pan has a cover for it and you're organized and know where those things are in your kitchen, put the cover on. If you're me, use aluminum foil. Pop those suckers in the fridge and let 'em hang out. Now tell yourself to go to bed because you have to work in the morning. Instead, take a "tired-face" picture of yourself.

Look at the clock.


The next morning, take that baby out. There are lots of ways to cook a brisket but, unless you have a smokehouse out back, you're probably looking at braising in your oven or slow cooker. If you're lucky (like me!) your slow cooker isn't designed to hold an entire cow so you might have to get creative with fitting it in.

For the slow cooker: Place your meat in the basin fat-side up (that is very important) and pour the liquid in your pan over it. Put the lid on and set it the cooker on low for 6-8 hours. It might be tempting to crank the heat up so shorten the cook time but, folks, it is worth the extra time. Seriously. You can't rush good lovin' or good cookin'. Sit back, put your feet up and let it go.

For the oven: Flip your meat over in the pan so it is fat-side up (I'm not kidding about that). Add an extra cup of water to the pan. Cover the pan tightly with double-thickness aluminum foil. Put it in a 250-degree oven for 6-8 hours. It's tempting to peel back the foil to take a peek at the meat while its cooking but resist! We want to keep all that steam & liquid in there.

The meat is done when it's fork-tender and no longer pink inside. I like to shred my meat for sandwiches, so I just take a couple forks and pull the meat apart while it's still warm.

Your next step is to invite over some hungry men:

and eat up.

Barbecue sauce (not) optional.


Kristina P. said...

You are fancy! I might have to try this.

Olsen Family said...

i needed you a few weeks ago. I got Nate an 8 lb brisket for Christmas. I just had to look up a recipe on the internet. I cooked it the same way you did, but I wish I had your recipe for the rub! It turned out amazing, but I am sure yours is way better. Oh well, I guess I will just have to make another one this weekend while my brother is in town. Where is the best place to buy brisket?

Kim said...

Costco usually has really nice cuts of meat. I've gotten it there before and have been most pleased. Some bigger grocery stores carry brisket but I'm not sure which. The key to a good brisket is to make sure the meat is very fresh so look for one where the flesh is really red, not brown or gray. Another tip is to make friends with the butcher. I've become friendly with the butcher at Dan's and have gotten good tips on what's just been brought in and what is a good price. Once I slipped him a fiver to get me a fresher steak from the back than what they had on display. Good luck!

Rachael said...

Wow! Look at the woman in the kitchen! I'm impressed with your culinary skills.

Sherrie said...

Yummy-yum yummers!! I'm a goin' to Costco's....

Anonymous said...

Bringing up Andre the Giant just makes me want to cry.

And in the last picture--how did you get a picture of your camera while taking the picture??

Kim said...

Oh, ha ha. I didn't realize that. I think that picture is from my phone.

Amazing devices, these!

Celestial Soldier said...

I'm a hungry man...

(PS I do have smoker out back. *wink*)

(PPS No innuendo intended in the post script... so stop trying to look for one.)

Dale said...

Geeze, now that's the way to lure men.

Now I'm going to be thinking about how wonderful a brisket sandwich would be for the rest of the night.

Anonymous said...

Oh ya, why the heck are you not married if you can cook like this?

I bet if you move back to Heaven (Texas and not that godless state of Utah), I am sure you will have the cowboys beating down your door.

)en said...

i think i'm really starting to like Anonymous.

where in the recipe says, "have kim come over and make this"? That is what i need. It looks delicious. The bowl of spices is just lovely.

Anonymous said...

That is funny Jen because I am just starting to like you.....