Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Barbecue Style Brisket

Snake River Farms brisket
Summer is almost over, but it's not too late to plan one more backyard barbecue. This past weekend I had some friends over for a potluck at my folks place, and the main attraction was the beef. My father recently purchased a smoker in anticipation of trying some Snake River Farms beef I had been given as a sample. I first had Snake Rive Farms beef at The French Laundry and more recently tried their burgers, both were fantastic. Wagyu beef has a higher percentage of unsaturated fat, more than any other breed and American Snake River Farms beef is free of both added hormones and antibiotic residues. It's extremely tender and flavorful.

Brisket is an economical cut of beef and I was curious to see if American raised Kobe beef would be superior to conventional beef or grassfed in terms of flavor as well. Oh my. Was it ever. I don't eat beef all that often, but this is really the most rich and luxurious beef you can buy. It's a great way to indulge and tastier than steak, in my opinion. A whole brisket, when available, is about 14 pounds of meat, but needs to be trimmed of fat. You can cut it into three large pieces, each of which will serve about 6 people, maybe a few more.

My father is not big on recipes, but I did get the details on how he prepared the brisket. Here are the basic steps and measurements:

1. Dry rub and marinate
After trimming the meat of most of the fat, rub the meat with a spice rub. You can make it or use a commercial product that contains salt, sugar and spices. Wrap in plastic and marinate in the refrigerator overnight.

2. Smoke
Rinse off the rub to make sure the meat will not be too salty. Brush with barbecue sauce and smoke in a smoker for 2 hours at 250 degrees. Note: If you don't have a smoker you could skip this step and just add 2 hours to the baking time.

3. Bake low and slow
Caramelize an onion until golden. Slice a raw onion and create a bed for the meat in a deep disposable style foil baking pan. Layer the meat on top of the raw onion and add about 1 cup water and 1/2 cup of barbecue sauce, place the caramelized onions on top of the meat. Seal the pan with foil and bake at 250 degrees for 4 1/2 - 5 1/2 hours or until meltingly tender.

4. Chill and slice
The meat will be very soft and impossible to slice. Chill it and defat the sauce. Slice and reheat gently in a warm oven. Serve with the sauce--reduced and defatted.

My favorite way to throw a party is potluck. Everyone participates and it showcases the talents and backgrounds of each person in a fun way. Those who don't cook can bring beer or wine. It's not too late! I hope you'll throw a barbecue before Summer is nothing but a memory...