Here in Texas we pretty much believe that we invented beef brisket and that there is only one right way to fix it.
A giant brisket is going to be on the menu at almost any summer celebration you can think of, right along with corn on the cob and pecan pie. Everyone has their own way of making it — there are as many techniques and recipes as there are Texans.
The thing is that even though making brisket is pretty straight forward if it isn't done right it is pretty yucky stuff. I have had it tough, tasteless, and chewy - slimy with fat. None of those things are desirable. The only real secret for good brisket is to cook it for a long time at a low temperature.
Usually, around here anyway, that's accomplished by smokers. Some are homemade, some are purchased, but they are all part of every Texas man's vocabulary. I am way out of my league when smokers are mentioned.
I do mine in the oven.
I haven't lost my Texas membership card yet but it could happen.
Don't ever dump any kind of sauce on your brisket before you roast it. You want to roast it dry — use the sauce as a garnish after the meat is cooked.
Choosing a Great Brisket
There's a trick to choosing a great brisket and in a few minutes you will be a brisket expert. Read on.
- Do not get a brisket that has been trimmed. The fat helps keep the meat moist and gives it more flavor.
- If you think you chose a brisket with too much fat, trim it sparingly, but I wouldn't.
- Choose a brisket that you can "fold" in the package. If it is very flexible it indicates that it is tender. You want tender. Don't try this if it's on a tray.
- Get a whole one. It will be way too much meat. Don't worry, just freeze what you don't eat.
It really is that simple, I promise.
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 with a paper towel.
- Piece together two sheets of foil so that they are big enough to totally envelope the meat. It may take two or three sheets with the edges folded together.
- Put the foil in the pan.
- Now, lay the meat on the foil in the pan.
- Rub it with a generous amount of liquid smoke. ¼ a cup is about right but you can use more if you like that really smoky flavor.
- Drizzle about a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce over it.
- Sprinkle with coarse sea salt.
- Add cracked black pepper and use more than you think you'll need. You should be able to see it.
- 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. The key to a tender brisket is long, slow, very slow cooking. (very very very slow)
- 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 best aroma ever. In fact the whole neighborhood might well be at your door, drooling.
- Let the meat stand for 20 minutes before you start slicing into it. This lets the juices settle.
- Slice across the grain in thin slices, at a slight angle. Some of the meat may fall apart. If you eat it quick enough no one will know.
- Now it's time for plates, barbecue sauce, and beer.
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 ¼ 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.
Image: Marye Audet