Ok – this one is both for my son Zach, and my mom – who both asked about this recipe. Zach is being a huge PIA about it, because the last one I made for him he devoured, so I guess he wants to impress his friends and make one at Auburn…so let’s get on with it.
Ideally, you want to cook a brisket with indirect heat for a long time – I use The Beast (my homemade brick BBQ) and oak/hickory when I can, and they come out truly stellar. But sometimes I am stuck inside, so have to use the oven so this recipe is based on oven cooking. If you can manage indirect heat and smoke, that is WAAAY better – but that is not always so easy to accomplish.
But you can see, a brisket is cut leaving a big layer of fat on one side of it – that little bit of meat crawling over the left here in the pic, is not always there – most times, you see only the white fat there. Unlike other types of meats, you want to leave this fat on there – no need to trim it away…it becomes part of your delicious.
This one is about 2 1/2 pounds – typical for this cut. You can get bigger ones – just be clear on your cooking times, and make sure you block out enough time to do it.
The key in a brisket, is cooking it long and slow – letting that fat melt down into the meat, flavoring and tenderizing it wonderfully. So like many long cooked meats, this one is best served by applying a nice dry rub of spices on it to bring out the flavors and character you are after here.
So the rub I like to use, is based on garlic, onion, salt/pepper, and a little hot stuff. You can make one out of whatever you like (and Zach, the one you want used all of the pictured spices plus some thyme). How heavy you go with any of these, or what kind of blend you create is really the signature of the thing here – because this is all there is to a brisket.
Whatever you choose to blend for your spices, mix them in a bowl so they are well blended.
Once the blend is achieved, rub it into the meat – and I mean rub it in there good. You want there to be no more raw meat or fat showing anywhere – it all needs your spicy goodness.
On the right over here, I have the brisket all rubbed down – you can see how thick I went with it. Do you have to go this far? No – but you do want to cover it well, because a brisket on its own is not the most flavorful thing in the world. And going a little heavy is not usually a problem because you cut it into thin strips – so a lot of seasoning on a little part helps to carry it thru.
But once you have the meat seasoned well, you are almost done with this thing – the hard part is really getting the proper blend of your spices.
The only thing you need to do now, and it is REALLY important – is to make sure the fat side is up – not down. You want that fat to melt, and drip thru your brisket – so having it fat-side up means you are ready to go.
Cooking Your Brisket
Now, my preferred way to cook a brisket (and a lot of other things) indoors, is using my Romertopf clay cooker. It is over there on the left – and like the name implies, is a clay cooker that treats anything inside it really nicely. But Zach doesn’t have one at Auburn, so I decided I would do this is a simple metal roasting pan.
If you are unlucky enough to NOT have a clay cooker yet (eediots!), all you need is a pan big enough to hold it, and some tinfoil to wrap it up tight. Make a good seal around the edges – you are essentially creating a covered dish.
But I don’t even pre-heat the oven for these – I simply put it in there at 275° and let it go.
And yes – I did say 275° – because a low heat is needed to cook it long, and slow. Give it about an hour and a half per pound at that temp. I simply put it in the oven, set my timer, and walk away.
NEVER open the door, or check on it – it is fine, and you don’t want the heat to escape. You don’t baste it, you don’t have to do anything except leave it alone.
Because the one I had was 2 1/2 pounds, I did it for just over 3 hours – at about 280° – because I was timing it for a specific dinner hour. I could’ve gone another hour on it, and it would not have hurt it a bit. But low heat, long time. You go now.
Finishing the Brisket
OK – after all that time, I take off the tinfoil, and I have what is actually a pretty dry piece of meat, and some lovely au jus.
I let it rest for about 10 minutes, then I take the meat to a cutting board, and pour off that au jus into a bowl, and put a ladle in it – I like it just as it is. You could easily make it into a killer gravy by heating it up and adding a roux, but the jus on its own is super flavorful, and perfect as it is.
The last thing (before devouring it) is slicing it – go across the grain, and cut it into thin strips. If there is any fat left from the thick strip after cooking, it will be a thin, seasoned layer – and it is truly wondrous.
That’s it though – slice it thin, serve it with the au jus, and tell ’em Marty sent you. 🙂