Friday, March 15, 2019

and in more positive news... BBQ brisket!

I brought to the office a preview of the brisket I'll be prepping for Friday, March 22. The first two pics are of my simple brisket slider; the final pic is of the brisket inside the ceramic, microwavable pot in which I reheated the meat once I reached the office.

The beef was tender and delicious, even after cooling all night in the fridge and reheating the following day in a microwave. The prep procedure wasn't all that hard, either:

1. Brine brisket overnight in a simple 2:1 sugar/salt mix (you read that right: more sugar than salt). I'm pretty sure the brining is what saved this slab from drying out.

2. Create dry rub. If you want the recipe, let me know. I used a modified version of a simple, no-nonsense recipe I found online.

3. Remove brisket from brine the next day. Pat dry. Apply dry rub to all sides.

4. Place brisket in a deep baking tray, preferably on a rack that raises the meat off the bottom of the tray. I had some metal, grid-shaped hot pads that were sturdy and perfect for the job. I'm glad I don't have to buy extra fancy equipment.

5. Bake brisket, uncovered, at 350°F (177°C) for 50 minutes.

6. After 50 minutes, lower the temp to 250°F (121°C). Add beef or chicken broth (I used chicken) and bake another 100 minutes. This low-and-slow phase is essential. Add more broth if everything evaporates and the fond starts smoking(!). Don't ask me how I know about that.

7. Add a tiny bit more broth, and now paint the brisket with barbecue sauce. Uncover and cook a final 50 minutes if needed. (Do check the meat's doneness around stage 6.) You won't end up with the type of brisket you see the pros make—the kind with the perfect outer bark and inner pink smoke ring. But your meat will be amazingly tender, amazingly delicious, and perfect for sandwiching up, which was the primary goal of performing this experiment.

Everyone today loved the brisket, which sold out fast. No one questioned the texture or the moisture. People went back for seconds, and even thirds (although they shouldn't have, given how little brisket there was! one late-arriving coworker got miffed at not getting enough brisket). I think I'll chalk this up as a victory.

But I did learn some lessons, too. Next time, I think I might actually throttle back the cooking time a bit so as to have a somewhat firmer brisket: this one flaked apart under the knife a tad too much for my taste, despite some very gentle pressure when cutting. Another two changes that I'll make for Friday the 22nd are (1) I won't bake the brisket until that very morning so as to avoid refrigeration/drying, and (2) I won't slice the brisket until I'm at the office so as to preserve juiciness as long as possible (as well as to give the meat time to rest).

That said, the brisket was pretty damn good, I have to say.

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