Recipe Foundations: Beef Brisket

If you are a thrifty shopper you should be well-versed in how to navigate a wholesale warehouse.  As you travel toward the back of the massive food depot you will stumble upon vacuum packed cuts of pork & beef that are not yet chopped down to grocery sized items.  Unless you plan to cook for two dozen people you may never need to buy one of these Flintstones sized slabs of meat.  For those willing to save a few bucks and sacrifice a little variety to eat like a king, this is for you.

Brisket comes in all shapes and sizes, when selecting a pre-trimmed piece look for something that is somewhat the same thickness.  There will always be a tapper from a thick to a thin end however there are still some briskets that are more uniform.  Cut the chosen brisket down the short end to separate the even end from the start of the tapper.  The larger piece we will leave whole, and the smaller / thinner cuts we will cook low and slow until it is broken down into smaller bites.

Pastrami (Stage 1 of 2)

Brine:

Take your larger piece and place it into a plastic bag, which a gallon sized bag is hopefull large enough.  To start your brine; place 2 quarts of water in a pot, heat up to a simmer, and dissolve the following ingredients:

(Cold water works but this is a quicker version)

  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup Morton Tender Quick Home Meat Cure
  • 1 tbs black peppercorns
  • 1 tbs mustard seeds
  • 1 tbs coriander seeds
  • 3 cloves of smashed garlic
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes

 

Once the brine is clear of salt & sugar particles, turn the heat off, set on a non-flammable surface and dump a tray of ice into the pot to cool down the brine to room temperature.  There is no exact temperature your brine needs to meet, just cool enough to the touch or not to cook the brisket.  Once the solution has cooled down pour everything into the bag with your brisket steak, seal shut and place zipper side down into a bowl.  The weight of the brisket & brine will keep the bag from leaking (hopefully).  

Flip the bag over every 24 hours for 7 days.  Check back this week for what happens on the 8th day...

 

Beef Brisket Bolognese (Step 1 of 2)

Liberally salt all sides of the two smaller pieces and place into a well oiled (vegetable oil) pan over medium-high heat.  Brown all sides (see below), this will add more flavor and keep the brisket moist during braising.  The browning process shouldn't take more than a few minutes per side.

Once you're nice and brown, set it aside.

A strange twist of this recipe is the addition of chicken drumsticks.  It may seem unnecessary but adds another depth to the sauce you can't get out of another beef product beef.  Brown approximately 2 pounds of small chicken drumsticks in the same pot and set aside.

Braise:

Ingredients:

  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 1 medium white onion
  • 2 dashes of Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tbs steak sauce
  • (1) 28 oz. can of whole peeled tomatoes

Not shown:

  • 2 tbs tomato paste

Use the same pan you cooked the brisket & chicken drumsticks in to then begin cooking your root vegetables.  Make sure to salt liberally and let the vegetables cook down for at least 5 minutes over medium high heat.

When the vegetables have sweated out some of their moisture they will start to look translucent at the edges, this is when we need to add our tomato paste.   Crank the heat down to low and stir until everything is coated evenly.

Add in your wet ingredients and crank the heat back up to high until it's boiling.  Boil for 5-10 minutes.

Turn the heat down to a simmer, place in the chicken drumsticks, brisket, cover and set into a 250° F oven overnight (approximately 8 hours).  

 

Check back later this week for the end of this brisket saga...

DO IT!!!