Sunday, November 7, 2010

Brisket (sort-of)

There are three things I miss about Texas: Tex-Mex, steak, and barbecue. Barbecue in ZTexas is serious business and there are few things better than driving out to Salt Lick on a weekend afternoon, waiting an hour to be seated at community picnic tables, and ordering from a seemingly horribly limited menu with a choice of sausage, pork ribs, or brisket served with potato salad, cole slaw, baked beans, and white bread that normally you couldn't get me to touch, but is perfect for soaking up barbecue sauce. Having spent entirely too long on the phone with my dad before being reminded that grilling is not the same thing as barbecuing, I should point out now that this isn't true brisket. There's no pit, there's no smoke, it's a sad imitation, but it's as close as I'm going to get right now. The dry rub and mop were roughly inspired by a cookbook I picked up last time I was in Houston called Texas Home Cooking. I say roughly, because I ended up going out on Friday night instead of going home at a reasonable hour and buying black pepper (it figures the moment I decide to make the switch over to fresh ground peppercorns and get rid of the bulk black pepper that was old and not so great is the moment I run out of pepper). I also managed to forget while cutting and rubbing the meat at 11:30pm that I had planned ahead and bought extra paprika just for this recipe, so my rub ended up being pepper-free and paprika-light! The method I followed was one described on Smitten Kitchen. I also took the suggestion of adding liquid smoke to my mop. It's not the same, but there is something wonderful about that smell. I cheated and used bottled barbecue sauce because for some reason, you can buy Stubb's sauce up here. I couldn't pass up a little taste of Austin in favour of an untested sauce recipe. I think I'll be trying a recipe from Texas Home Cooking soon though on some ribs. If there's success, I'll report back!

Plan on starting this recipe the night before you're serving it as the meat did seem to taste better after resting for the day. This can be made in the oven (see the SK link) if you don't have a huge slow-cooker. I couldn't fit all of the meat in mine, so I ended up with a tiny hunk being stored in my fridge for a rainy day (I also ended up having to cut the meat smaller than I wanted to in some cases to make as much as possible fit which did seem to make it tougher).

If you're in Montreal, good luck finding raw brisket. Le Biftheque in Ville St-Laurent does carry it!

Brisket (sort-of ... see above for the source mashup)

4 - 5 kg of brisket
barbecue sauce for serving
Dry Rub
3/4 cup paprika (I had to use less)
1/4 cup ground black pepper (I had to omit)
1/4 cup chili powder, preferably homemade (I did a quick and dirty rough approximation and used 2 tbsp ancho chili powder, 1 tbsp cumin, 1 tbsp Mexican oregano)
1/4 cup salt
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp garlic powder
2 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp ground cayenne
Mop (you may end up roughly doubling this so keep extra on hand!)
1 bottle of beer
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp dry rub (I used the leftover from rubbing the meat)
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp liquid smoke

1. In a medium bowl, mix together dry rub ingredients.
2. Rub meat with the dry rub. Ideally, you would do this the morning before you're serving and let it set for the day in the fridge, but if not, no worries!
3. Place meat in a slow cooker.
4. In a medium bowl, combine all of the mop ingredients except the beer (I used the bowl with the leftover dry rub so I have no idea how much dry rub I used).
5. Pour mop and beer over meat. Don't worry that it doesn't cover the meat. As the fat melts, you will have plenty of liquid.
6. Cook in the slow cooker on low heat for 10 hours (ideal for overnight!).
7. Cool the meat slightly. With a spoon, scrape off the large knobs of fat from the brisket. Transfer to an oven-safe dish (or keep it in the slow cooker if you're lucky like me and it has a removable oven-safe dish). Allow the meat to rest for at least an hour, ideally most of the day.
8. One hour before you're ready to serve, preheat the oven to 300F. Skim the fat off the top. Remove the meat, thinly slice it and return it to the fat-skimmed liquid.
9. At this point, I became concerned that there wasn't enough liquid left to keep the meat from drying out when I reheated, so I poured in another beer, some vinegar, worcestershire, liquid smoke, a little ancho chile powder, mexican oregano, and black pepper (I bought pepper the day it was cooking!). Heat in oven, covered, for at least 30 minutes or until bubbling and warmed through.
10. Remove the meat from the mop and serve with barbecue sauce.

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