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Beef Brisket Is Not Just For Barbecue
Texas Style Barbecue Beef Brisket is well known in barbecuing circles. It's almost always a required item in barbecue competitions. However, this great tasting cut is not just for barbecue.
Now there's certainly nothing wrong with barbecue brisket. I love it! The long slow cooking in a smoker creates a brisket that is really something special.
My contention is that it's just as special cooked in other ways.
Selecting The Best Brisket
The key to great tasting and tender brisket cooked by any method begins with selecting the brisket. You need to be a little picky and not just grab the first one you see.
Brisket is a primal beef cut and is a long fibered muscle from the chest area of the beef critter. It's located just below the first five ribs.
The brisket muscle is used for walking and because it's so heavily used it is naturally tough. However, some briskets are tougher than others.
Selecting the tenderest brisket is a combination of skill and luck.
Beef Brisket Cuts
The first step in selecting brisket begins with which cut.
Whole beef brisket is normally in the 8 to 12 pound range and has an inner fat layer between the muscles that will not render during cooking. They are usually sold in cry-o-vac packaging and are not trimmed of excess fat.
Unless you have a lot of people to feed and are prepared to deal with all the fat steer clear of whole brisket.
Whole brisket is further divided into point cut and flat cut brisket. These cuts are in the 4 to 6 pound range and have been trimmed of most excess fat.
The point cut has much more interior fat than the flat cut. It's a great cut for shredded beef but because of all the fat it doesn't slice very well.
For sliced brisket you would want to select the flat cut.
Beef is sometimes graded for eating quality. Best">All beef is inspected for wholesomeness but quality grading is voluntary and the packinghouse has to pay for it.
Of all the grades there are only three that are available at the retail level. The three grades are prime, choice and select.
Unless you order online you will probably never see the prime grade.
That leaves choice and select grades. Of the two the choice grade will have the best fat marbling and will result in a more tender brisket.
If your brisket is not quality graded then you could be getting any of the three grades. It's all a matter of luck.
If you can get a good view of the non-graded brisket try to select the one with the best marbling.
If you can't get a good view then go with a smaller brisket. It's likely that a small brisket is from a younger animal and will be tenderer.
You can also perform a flexibility test. Place your hand vertically under the center of the brisket and let the brisket droop over the edges of your hand.
The brisket that droops the most will be the tenderest.
That's it for selecting brisket. Now let's cook it up. (And not on the barbecue!)
Baked Beef Brisket
Since brisket is one of the toughest cuts of beef that you can buy most cookbooks will tell you that it has to be cooked with a moist heat cooking method.
However, by imitating the low and slow method of smoke cooking you can bake a brisket in the oven. And it's great!
The low temperature of the oven and the long cooking time will melt the connective tissue and fat making a tender brisket. It also allows the brisket to cook evenly all the way through without drying out the exterior.
Brisket Slow Baked and Sauced
4 lb. flat cut brisket
For The Sauce:
1 cup catsup
Sprinkle the brisket with the liquid smoke, garlic powder, onion salt and celery salt. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.
The next morning sprinkle the brisket with pepper and drizzle the Worcestershire sauce over it. Cover and bake at 275 degrees for five hours.
After five hours uncover the brisket and pour the sauce over the meat. Return the brisket to the oven and bake for an additional hour. Baste with the sauce every 15 minutes.
Remove the brisket from the oven and pour off the sauce. Allow it to cool for approximately 30 minutes and then slice very thin across the grain. Drizzle some sauce over the slices and serve.
Braised Beef Brisket
Braising is a moist heat cooking method by which meat is cooked in a small amount of liquid at low heat for a lengthy period of time. Braising is sometimes referred to as "pot roasting".
The long, slow cooking develops flavor and tenderizes brisket by gently breaking down its fibers.
Braising can be done on top of the range or in the oven. A crock-pot is an ideal braising tool. A tight-fitting lid is very important to prevent the liquid from evaporating.
Braising is my moist heat method of choice for beef brisket.
Tex/Mex Oven Braised Brisket Recipe
4 pounds beef brisket, flat cut
For The Tex/Mex Rub:
2 tablespoons chili powder
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Trim any excess fat from the brisket.
Combine all the rub ingredients and season the brisket all over with the rub. Place the brisket in a roasting pan and roast, uncovered in the oven for 1 hour.
Add the beef stock to the pan. The liquid should be 1/2 the height of the brisket. Add some water if necessary.
Lower the oven temperature to 300 degrees. Cover the pan tightly and continue cooking for another 3 hours or until its fork tender.
By carefully selecting your brisket and using either one of these two recipes you will be rewarded with great beef flavor and surprising tenderness from this tough cut.
The next time you're thinking beef brisket remember this: Beef brisket is not just for barbecue!
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