We've done pork shoulder and ribs, but I can't let zrau be the only one doing barbecue around here, so it was past time for me try brisket.
Truth to be known, brisket's always intimidated me a little bit. It's an expensive cut of meat, and very easy to dry out if you overcook it. As it is, it took me a couple of pork roasts to get good pulled pork right, so the thought of screwing up a big hunk of brisket was a little daunting.
Still, gotta get tossed in the deep end at some point, right?
Pitt Cue Co. is an outfit out of London, and while I've certainly never been over to the U.K. to try the wares out, they make a cook book that is pretty damn cool. My wife picked it up for Christmas, and it has a wealth of smoked and cured meat ideas involving beef, pork, lamb, duck, chicken, among others. Seriously, they use just about everything in the animal. There's also a number of pickling ideas, drinks, deserts. It's pretty damn cool.
Yeah, the thought of a British take on barbecue probably sounds blasphemous, but the returns thus far have been pretty good, and a number of the other recipes look extremely appetizing. So I gave the brisket a try, using their beef rub and their base sauce, or Mother Sauce.
4-6 lb brisket
wood chunks for smoking
1 cup Maldon Sea Salt (I just used plain ol' sea salt)
1/2 cup Light brown sugar
1/4 cup English mustard powder (again, I used what was in the store)
3 1/2 tbsp Hot smoked paprika
1/4 cup ground black pepper
Note: The ingredients in some of these sound pretty fancy, and I substituted liberally. Upon putting the rub together, I was admittedly a little concerned that it would be too salty. I also threw in an extra teaspoon of red chili flakes. If I made it again, I might slightly dial back the salt and increase the brown sugar by a quarter cup either way. Just my thought, but I would still recommend the rub as is.
1 lb, 2 oz diced beef trim
2 pints beef stock
2 pints pork stock
5 shallots, chopped
1/2 stick butter
1 cup Madeira wine (I substituted sherry)
1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup yellow mustard
1 tbsp cider vinegar
1 tsp Tabasco
1/2 cup cloudy apple juice
3 1/2 tbsp molasses
3 1/2 oz pork drippings
Note: I skimped on a couple of ingredients here. I didn't have pork stock or drippings handy, so I just used extra beef stock and some consommé. I didn't have enough beef trim, although next time I'll probably just trim a little more fat off the cap of the brisket. I didn't really know where to find Madeira wine, but sherry is generally considered an acceptable substitute.
The sauce is pretty involved in terms of putting together, and cooking, with kind of a unique flavor. I'll let the book describe it:
"We have a Mother Sauce at the restaurant. The aim of this was to produce the meatiest of all sauces. Not sweet or acidic, like a barbecue sauce, but a sauce so packed with umami and smoky meatiness that you would taste it hours later."
Umami is just a fancy word for a pleasant savory taste. Yes I had to look it up too.
1. Combine the beef rub ingredients in a blender or food processor and mix well, then place in your dispenser of choice. I like to keep my rubs in a mason jar.
2. Apply the rub to the brisket, rub it in good and allow to sit a few hours or overnight.
3. Smoke in the smoker of your choice at around 200 degrees for 12 to 15 hours until you hit an internal temperature between 190-195 degrees. Use a meat thermometer. When done, wrap in aluminum foil and allow to rest for an hour or so.
4. Time to get started on the sauce. In a large pan, brown the beef trim over high heat. Get it good and brown, then add the two stocks and deglaze the pan.
5. Lower your heat to simmer, and reduce the liquid by two-thirds, skimming the grease off with a spoon as you go.
6. In a separate pan, melt the butter and saute the shallots (imagine Nigella Lawson pronouncing that word. I'll give you a second.) for five to six minutes until wilted.
7. Add the Madeira/sherry, bring to a simmer and reduce by half.
8. Add the Madeira mixture to the reduced stock, simmer and reduce further by a quarter, again skimming.
9. Mix together the remaining ingredients, save the pork drippings, and add to the pan. Then whisk in the pork drippings until well combined.
10. Run the mixture through a sieve or screen to get the solids out, then serve with your sliced and chopped brisket.