Don’t Be Afraid of the Brisket!

Big parties filled with hungry men call for a fired up grill and a whole lot of tasty smoked meats. A beef or veal brisket is the way to go. Even if its only for a few people, pick up a brisket and have a tasty snack for the next couple of days. Brisket is a big slab of beef or veal that includes the lower breast. This is some of the tastiest meat available in such a large single portion.

How to Pick Out a Brisket
A lot of great grilling chefs will tell you to pick up the brisket and hold it in the middle, with one hand. This is a big cut of meat so if you need to use both hands, just be sure to hold it in the center of the slab. If the slab of meat easily bends on each side, this is a tender slab of meat. The less the bend, the less tender the meat so opt for a floppy brisket. This cut of beef or veal may not be found at many grocery stores so check out your local butcher for the freshest meat.

How to Cook Brisket
When cooking any meat, slow and steady is the key to keeping the meat moist and tasty. Always marinate the meat first in whatever sauce or seasoning you like. The most popular choices down south is a mix of chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, brown sugar and a bit of salt. Or, you can substitute onion salt for onion powder. Surround the brisket in tin foil as it sits on your smoker. This will keep the juices in and won’t block the smokey goodness from penetrating the meat.

Brisket is thick and even the most tender slab is much tougher than other cuts of meat. However, don’t let the big hearty size fool you. After a few hours of slow and even heat, you’ll be able to cut this meat with a fork because it is so tender. If your griller allows it, add some oak, pecan or hickory wood to the heat. It is simply the smoke that will bring out all the flavors of an old fashioned open flame. The flavors and aromas will make mouths water for miles around.

Keep the brisket on your smoker for about three hours at a medium level of heat. Keep checking the meat for the color you want. Many southerners prefer a burnt end to their brisket. This is best achieved by uncovering the top layer of tin foil and closing your smoker lid for the last half hour.

Variations in Cooking
Some people will tell you to never cook meat longer than three hours. Brisket can be the exception to this rule. This cut of meat has fat veins running through it and will cause the meat to retain plenty of moisture while smoking. Brisket is the kind of meat you can throw on the smoker in the late morning and enjoy the aroma while it cooks all day long. By dinner, the smoky scent will cause you to drool all over your plate.

You can get really inventive with this meat. It makes delicious taco stuffing, burrito filling, pastrami, pot roast, chili meat and you can even give it an Asian twist with some Thai or Chinese spices. Also, there’s nothing more delicious than a brisket sandwich with plenty of mayonnaise and Swiss cheese. Beef stroganoff is made even yummier with brisket. Or, throw a few grilled veggies on a plate with a sensible sized piece of brisket and you have a scrumptious yet healthy meal.

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