This recipe was given to me by my friend, Laura Peacock, more years ago than either of us would want to remember. It is one of the best uses of brisket I have ever tasted and to make it even better it is easy to make.
The brisket is the front portion of the beef breast that lies between the front legs. There are two cuts of brisket so when you buy it you want to make sure you get the flat cut as seen below. It will most likely have a lean side and a fat cap on the other side. While some people leave this on, I generally cut most of it away as it makes the drippings really fatty. If the meat is not trimmed well, it is easy to do. I am always amazed at the ratio of meat to fat when it is sold. I recently bought a brisket flat from Sam’s and it weighed 7.32 pounds raw and cost $3.96 per pound or $28.99. After trimming I had 5 2/3 pounds of meat. The fat trimmed from it came to 1.71 pounds. After baking it for a total of 6 hours, it came to 3 1/3 pounds of finished meat at a cost of $8.70 per pound. Still a good price for all edible meat with no waste. Am I the only one who is fascinated by all of this weighing and pricing out stuff? I’m sure it is a carry over from my years in business when cost and portion control was key to making a profit.
After trimming, the meat is well seasoned with garlic, onion and celery salts, black pepper then drizzled with worcestershire sauce and liquid smoke. The amount you use is up to you. No plain salt is used because of all flavored salts used.
There is a misconception that bottled liquid smoke is made from chemicals. But it is truly smoke that has been condensed to make it liquid. It is used commercially as well as by cooks to impart the smell and taste of items that have been cooked in smokers – which most of us don’t have. There was an hysterical video from Cook’s Magazine recording how they spent $50.00 and 5 hours constructing a smoker to make liquid smoke. It took 6 hours in the shivering cold to obtain 3 tablespoons of liquid smoke – which while very, very good was not worth it to them. Then there is Alton Brown and his smoker contraption on a Food Network segment which few have the time and interest to duplicate but it definitely did work. In reality the hickory liquid smoke you and I buy is made from hickory sawdust and waste. It is smoldered to capture the hickory flavor by liquefying it in a distilling process. Mountains of lumber mill waste are diverted from landfills and incinerators in a nearly waste free system as the flavorful vapors in the sawdust get condensed into liquid. Vacuums suck out the lighter toxic gases like methane while filters eliminate the tars. Even these waste products get recycled and used as fuel. In the traditional vapor curing method, (think smokers used in restaurants and in backyards) these gases and tars contact the food and either remain on it or escape into the environment. There are several brands of smoke on the market. I tried those available in my area and use Colgins Liquid Smoke in the Hickory flavor as I like the assertiveness of it. Many of the smokes come with other flavors, some made from mesquite.
The roasting pan I am using is from my mother, who, I think, got it from her stepfather. No matter what, it is really old but I just love it. I have several from her and they are treasured, if well worn and used, pieces of equipment that I wouldn’t part with. I also have two large pots and a skillet made by Wearever many, many years ago from my mother. They are stainless steel and I still use those also. When you select a pan to cook the meat in, try to keep it close to the size of the meat as possible so the juices don’t burn away while it cooks.
The sauce has a lot of depth to start with and will be fairly thick when cooked. However, when the juices from the meat are added with all the seasoning that is put on the meat, the sauce truly becomes memorable. When the juices are initially added, the sauce thins out quite a bit, but by the time it cooks for and additional hour, uncovered, it thickens up as some of the liquid evaporates and clings to the meat.
5 to 6 pound brisket, well trimmed
1 1/2 ounce liquid smoke or more if desired
Check the cut of meat for fat by turning it over. It will be packaged with the lean side upso it will be hard to see how much fat is on it. The fat is apparent on the bottom of the above picture. When the meat is turned over, the fat is easily seen.Trim as little or as much fat as desired.
Place the meat in a roasting pan close to the size of the meat with fairly high sides.
Starting with the lean side of the meat, sprinkle it with garlic, celery and onion salts, black pepper, Worcestershire sauce and liquid smoke on both sides of the meat. Cover it tightly with foil and refrigerate overnight.
When ready to bake, uncover the meat to check it. The meat will have exuded some of its juice and it will smell unbelievable.
Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Cover and bake for 5 hours. Drain juices from the pan and degrease by pouring the drippings into a measuring cup and spooning off the fat or using a degreaser that looks like a small plastic watering can. Add the degreased drippings to the barbecue sauce below.
Pour over the meat and bake, uncovered 1 hour. The sauce will have thickened and the meat will have charred to some extent. Cool at least 1 hour before serving. Slice on the diagonal for the most tender cut.
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup vinegar
3 tablespoons worchestershire sauce
20 ounces catsup or chili sauce
1/4 cup dry mustard
1 tablespoons salt
This sauce may be made a week in advance. It yields 2 1/2 cups.