|Brisket: Just Add Smoke|
|Right Food for the Season - Late Summer|
|Written by Lara Zelman|
Brisket is a year round favorite of mine. When people ask if there is one food I love to cook, I usually answer “I make a lot of brisket”. It’s easy, but never boring. You can dress it up for holidays or dress it down for a backyard get together. Brisket is something that my grandma, mom, and brother make – it’s a family tradition!
I started buying more of my meat at the farmers market when I became more conscious of meat quality and its origins. It seemed like every vendor had plenty of pork, but the beef was limited to ground beef, steaks, and occasionally stew meat. Never brisket – until now!
I took off for a summer food holiday to visit the summer market at Russell’s Garden Center in Wayland. I had visited the winter market, but hadn’t made it out for the summer market. The market is every Wednesday from 12:00 – 5:00 p.m.
There were over a dozen vendors with produce, cheese, jams, jellies, sauces and more. I stopped at the first vendor, Charlton Orchards Farm & Winery, to see what they had to offer. Charlton Orchards is a family farm and winery in Central Massachusetts. They carry everything from produce to ice cream to beef to wine! The beef is pasture raised and available for sale at the farm and at farmers markets. The first things to catch my eye on their tables were some tiny shiro plums. I mentioned that I’d never had them before and they offered me one to sample. As I was munching, I noticed they also had a full selection of meat. I scanned down the list – and there it was – brisket! They ended up digging through their entire cooler to find the brisket for me. After they repacked the cooler, they put the brisket on the scale and asked me if that was what I wanted. I told them to pack it up, along with some pickling cucumbers and a box of those shiro plums. I headed home with my 6.5 pounds of brisket and started thinking about how I wanted to make it.
The traditional method for cooking brisket usually involves a few hours in the oven at a low temperature. It’s been too hot to fire up the oven this summer so I turned to plan B. Brisket is the perfect cut for smoking – the longer it cooks, the more tender it gets. I decided to turn my gas grill into a smoker and put the brisket out to smoke for the afternoon.
Just because you don’t have a professional barbecue smoker or charcoal grill, it doesn’t mean you can’t cook up some mouth-watering locally raised meat. With a few extra materials and a few hours on a summer afternoon you can say you successfully smoked a brisket.
I made a custom blended spice rub for the brisket and a mop sauce to baste during the smoking process. For accompaniments, I served some homemade bread and butter pickles made with Charlton Orchards pickling cukes and pickled shallots. With a side of biscuits (and on the biscuits), this was the perfect summer meal! After cooking, I cut the brisket into three 2-pound pieces and froze two pieces to have on hand for later in the summer.
I encourage you to pick up some meat at your local market and try out a new cooking method! Your neighbors might not appreciate the smoke, but you’ll enjoy a delicious meal or three.
BBQ Brisket Rub
1 cups light brown sugar
½ cup chili powder
2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons kosher salt
¼ cup fresh ground black pepper
3 tablespoons finely ground dark roast coffee
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl, making sure to mix ingredients evenly
Chocolate Stout Cherry Mop Sauce
1 cup Harpoon Chocolate Stout
¾ cup red tart cherry juice (R.W. Knudsen Organic brand)
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup beef stock
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Whisk ingredients together in a non-reactive bowl, put in the refrigerator until ready to use
Smoked Charlton Orchards Farm Beef Brisket
Trim excess fat from the brisket, leaving about a ¼ inch layer. Rub brisket with the spice rub, coating thickly on all sides. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour (or up to 24 hours).
Preparing the Grill
Metal smoker box (available in the grill accessories section at the hardware store)
2 shallow aluminum pans
Maple wood chips, soaked in water for 30+ minutes
Remove grill grates from the gas grill. Position the smoker box over the back burner. Fill the smoker box with the soaked wood chips. Place 1-2 shallow aluminum pans in the front of the grill. Fill the pans with water. Replace the grill grates on top.
Turn the back burner to high (under the smoker box) and shut lid. When you see a lot of smoke (5-10 minutes), turn the burner to medium – about 250 degrees. Place brisket fat side up over the pans of water and shut the lid. Baste the brisket with mop sauce every hour. Plan for at least an hour of cook time for every pound of brisket (This brisket needed a minimum of 7 hours). After half the time has elapsed, flip the brisket. Continue basting with mop sauce every hour. When the cooking time is complete, remove meat from the grill and set aside in a large aluminum pan.
If you plan to eat the brisket right away, let it rest for at least 15 minutes before slicing to let the juices redistribute. Slice the brisket against the grain into ¼ - ½ inch slices. The meat will still be a little pink, but it is cooked through. It should also have a nice dark pink smoke ring around the outside. Serve with reduced mop sauce (see below).
To reheat the brisket later, place cold slices into a baking dish with reduced mop sauce and reheat at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.
Reducing Mop Sauce for Serving
**Food safety note, if you plan to do this don’t dip your basting brush into the sauce after you touch the raw meat. Take just a small amount of mop sauce in a separate dish out to the grill each time.**
Pour remaining mop sauce into a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and lower heat to medium-high. Cook until thickened and reduced by about 1/3.