Brisket & burnt ends

Brisket & burnt ends

By
From
The Hang Fire Cookbook
Serves
8-10

Cooking brisket has been by far one of the most difficult cuts for us to get right. Our first taste of real brisket was in Texas. We ate a lot of it there and it was truly life changing. In particular, king of ’cue, Aaron Franklin’s barbecue is, to date, one of the finest plates of barbecue we’ve had the pleasure of eating. The brisket was wobbly, buttery and beefy. It was held together perfectly by a firm peppery bark and was dripping with juices. Eating that brisket almost caused a table-thumping When Sally Met Harry moment right in the middle of his restaurant!

Trying to replicate this standard of cooked brisket in the UK is not without its challenges. We’d love to offer a fool-proof formula here, but that’s not going to happen as this unmarbled, tough cut is an equally tough cookie to crack. You need to persevere with this one, cook many, make notes and learn from each cook. Trust us, you’ll be on cloud nine when you crack it.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
1 x 4kg beef brisket, point end attached and fat cap intact
2-3 tablespoons groundnut oil
200ml brown ale, at room temperature
100ml beef stock, warmed
100g Hang Fire smokehouse barbecue sauce

For the rub

Quantity Ingredient
50g coarse ground black pepper
50g sea salt flakes
10g garlic granules
1 tablespoon chilli powder

Method

  1. First, mix the rub ingredients together well in a tub or shaker and set aside.
  2. Next, trim off any hard, or particularly thick, areas of fat from the brisket. Don’t be overzealous though, as you need to leave a decent fat cap on the top of the brisket, about 3mm, so that it renders into delicious beef ‘caramel’. Turn the brisket over and remove any silver skin or sinew. Put the brisket in a foil tray or roasting tray and rub it all over with the groundnut oil. Dust both sides, catching the edges, with the rub.
  3. Set your smoker up for indirect heat and regulate the temperature between 108°C and 120°C. If you’re using an offset smoker, point the thickest part (the point end) towards the heat source. Throw in a handful of oak chips or a couple of oak wood chunks at this point and put in your brisket. You’re looking at about 12 hours to smoke, think of it as roughly 3 hours per kilogram of meat. Add another handful of oak chips or a couple of oak chunks as and when it burns out for the first 6–8 hours.
  4. At the 7-hour mark, you want to think about the Texas crutch (where the beef is wrapped in foil with stock or beer). It is a little controversial, however with lean, grass-fed beef, we’ve found this a necessary step in producing a tender, juicy brisket. To make a Texas crutch, take 3 metres of foil, fold it twice into thirds, with the remaining third as a flap. Bring the edges of the foil up a little, put your brisket in the middle and pour in the stock and ale. Bring the flap over, wrap tightly, expelling as much air as possible, and crimp the edges like a giant pasty. Pop the brisket back in the smoker. Obviously, don’t add any more wood after this point.
  5. At the 12-hour mark, you want to start taking the temperature. Careful where you poke the instant-read thermometer – you don’t want holes in the sides of the foil as the liquor will to start spouting out. Take the temperature using your instant-read thermometer from both the point and the middle of the flat. You’re testing for tenderness here, as opposed to the temperature. Does the tip of the thermometer slide into the meat easily, or does it still feel a little tough? Most folks, including us, recommend a minimum temperature of 90°C but we’ve had briskets take until 98°C before they’ve felt tender.
  6. When you’re happy with the tenderness of the brisket, you’re on the home straight! Just a few more steps before you reach brisket nirvana…
  7. Undo the seam of the foil carefully (as that steam is going to be piping hot) and pour the braising liquid into a pan. Reduce over low heat to make a gravy. At this stage, you might want to make Burnt Ends: holding the brisket with heat-proof gloves, slice off the point end (which should be a very visible, raised muscle that sits on top of the flat) and cut the meat against the grain into 5cm cubes on a chopping board. Glaze the cubes in the barbecue sauce and place in a new foil tray in the smoker for a further 4–5 hours, or until it is fork-tender.
  8. Reseal the foil seam and put the brisket in a cool box and wrap the foil parcel in tea towels. Let it rest for anywhere between 1 hour and 2 hours. Take it out, remove all the foil and place on a chopping board. Let it breathe for 10 minutes while the bark starts to dry out. Take a sharp carving knife and slice the brisket, against the grain, into 5mm thick slices. Serve with white onions, pickles and a little pot of the reduced gravy for dipping the slices in – and crack open another beer, heck you deserve it.

You got beef

  • So, imagine our surprise when we discovered that not all briskets smoke the same or taste the same. We’re up against it a little in the UK as our beef is generally grass fed and often grain finished. In the US, they are almost entirely grain fed, making for way more marbling and bigger bovine. However, times are a-changing and with the demand for brisket growing in the UK, many butchers are sourcing cattle with longer grain-fed finishing times. We have great ones in the UK from Wagyu, Dexter, Angus and other prime cattle varieties. If you want something special, find a good butcher that will help you. It’s fun to try a USDA brisket to see the difference, however, we’d always push for supporting the hardworking British farmers.

Wood

  • Oak

Cooking methods

  • Indirect Grilling/Smoking
Tags:
barbecue
BBQ
Southern
America
Deep South
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