Saturday, August 29, 2015

Beef Brisket & Corn on the Cob

I got up at 7:30am today to start my brisket in the smoker. Brisket is a really tough cut of meat and it will take 10 hours under heat to make it tender. What I am sharing with you today is actually a hybrid method of cooking the brisket. It will spend just 3 hours in my smoker and 7 hours in the oven. Because there are only two of us at home now, I chose the flat cut, which weighs about 5 pounds. But this cooking method will still work on full briskets of 10+ pounds.

While I have an electric smoker that can infuse the wood with smoke, you don't need one. I opted for the 3 hour timing as that is the amount of time it takes my smoker to use up the wood. But you can use your grill to infuse the meat. Just use indirect heat and keep your dampers almost fully shut to maintain a temperature of 225º. If you are using the grill method, plan on smoking the meat for 1 hour on the grill and 9 hours in the oven.

When it comes to smoke, less is more. You want to go really light on the wood, otherwise your meat will taste more like smoke than meat...and that's a bad thing. For smoking brisket, I prefer pecan wood. Pecan is hickory's, lighter, thinner brother. Pecan adds a wispy, delicate flavor to the meat. And you don't need much. I only used 2 ounces of pecan this morning.

So the first part of our hybrid cooking method is for the smoke. The second part is to braise the meat. Brisket cooked for 10 hours in a smoker can get really dry. So two things will help to ensure moist, tender meat. The first is to make sure the meat has a good fat cap, which serves to baste the meat. Secondly, you will be adding 12 ounces of apple juice which will braise the meat while it is in the oven.

Cooking brisket using this hybrid method is ridiculously easy. It just takes time...."low and slow" is the mantra. But now I would like to tell you about a new way to cook corn. Becky and I tried it last Wednesday and it was the most incredible tasting corn either of us had ever had. It involves a cooking method called "sous vide", which is French for "under vacuum".

I have an Anova sous vide cooker. It's basically a stick you attach to the side of a pot. You just set the temperature and the stick heats and circulates water in the pot. So what you do is seal the corn inside a vacuum bag with a big glop of butter. You set the sous vide cooker for 183º and cook the corn for 30 minutes. The vacuum bag concentrates the corn a level I had never experienced before. And when it's done cooking, the corn is self-buttered. In fact you will find butter has seeped into every little crevice in the ear of corn. Just add salt! I'm here to tell you that you have never tasted corn like this.

1 flat cut brisket, about 5 pounds, with a generous fat cap
Kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper
2 ounces pecan wood (for smoking)
12 ounces of apple juice (beer works in a pinch)

  1. Generously add salt and pepper to both sides of the brisket, rubbing it into the surface of the meat on both sides.
  2. Preheat smoker to 225º. When smoker reaches 225º, add pecan wood and brisket. Cook for 3 hours.
  3. Preheat oven to 225º.
  4. After 3 hours, remove brisket from smoker. Take 2 long pieces of aluminum foil and lay them out in a cross on your counter top.
  5. Place brisket on the center of the foil cross. Slightly curl foil around brisket so that it will hold the juice without spilling. Add apple juice.
  6. Tightly double wrap the foil around the brisket. Make sure the foil is air tight as you don't want to lose any liquid in the cooking process. Place in oven.
  7. After 7 hours, remove from oven and let the brisket rest, in the foil, for 20 minutes.
  8. Carefully open the foil and pour the meat juices into a gravy server. Slice the meat against the grain. Put meat on a platter and serve, passing the gravy server for people to add the juices to their meat.

Wine pairing: Zinfandel

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