Saturday, July 14, 2012

Barbecued Brisket and Summer Berry Pie

July 8, 2012
Barbecued Brisket
Steamed White Corn
Fresh Summer Fruit Salad
Homemade Beer
Summer Berry Pie

I had long wanted to try this recipe for barbecued brisket. I have had brisket in barbecue restaurants and at AT&T Park and have always enjoyed it. I have been putting off cooking it at home because of the size of brisket. A full brisket weighs over ten pounds and even the flat cut, which is called for in the recipe, weighs five to six pounds. I love leftovers but this is too much meat for two people. Brisket is a tough cut of beef requiring a long cooking time to become tender. It is usually barbecued or braised and it is always served well done. I purchased a six-pound flat cut brisket from Whole Foods that was labelled "pasture beef". It wasn't cheap, $48, but given the number of meals we would get from it I decided it was worthwhile. Also, instead of our usual two people we would have five for dinner this Sunday. Our daughter Caryn is home for the summer and she invited her boyfriend, Alex, to join us. Our son, Caleb, was also present, visiting us in California while en route from New York to New Zealand. I probably wouldn't get such a good chance to try cooking brisket for some time, so this was the day!

The entire process of cooking the brisket took over seven hours. The techniques are easy and most of this time is hands off, so while it takes a long time it's not a lot of work. Preparation can be  divided into four major parts. First, the meat is brined for two hours to season and tenderize the meat. Second, it is smoked for three hours on a gas grill. A packet of hickory chips on the primary burner provided a long-lasting supply of smoke for the full cooking time. The temperature of the grill was maintained at around 300° according to the thermometer on the grill lid. I had never used this technique when smoking meat on the gas grill and it worked very well, the sweet smell of hickory smoke inviting us to the back yard for the entire cooking time. Third, the meat was roasted in a 325° oven for 2.5 hours until it reached an internal temperature of 195°. I found the internal temperature to be uneven and I took the brisket out of the oven while some portions were over and some under this temperature. I figured any reheating for leftovers would finish the cooking for the cooler parts. Fourth, the meat rested for 30 minutes before being carved, across the grain, for serving.

The side dishes were simple summer standards featuring fresh local produce. White corn was husked and put into a baking dish with a little water. It was then microwaved on high for 2½ minutes per ear. A fresh fruit salad was prepared with blackberries, pineapple, apple, orange, banana, strawberry, and cantaloupe. (I could have added plums and nectarines, too, but didn't need to.) Some rustic white bread which Caleb had purchased on his drive across the country, in Montana, competed the menu. He had also brought along beer that he had made just before leaving New York. He said it needed more time aging in the bottles but I thought it was just dandy the way it was, I have several more bottles aging in the refrigerator. Caleb tried a brown ale from Hawaii and didn't like it: too much toasted coconut for his taste.

For dessert, a fresh berry pie featuring blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries with a simple-to-make graham cracker crust. We've made this amazing pie before several times. The graham cracker crust is really easy to make and its  earthy-sweet flavor contrasts nicely to the bright, acidic sweetness of the fresh berries. The base for the filling is a jelly made from the same mix of berries that top the pie. These have been glazed with melted apple jelly to make them shine. Any mixture of summer berries would do here, but the supermarket had just the three varieties called for in the recipe in packages that were pretty close in size to what the recipe calls for.

The brisket was really, really, good –  meaty and smoky and tender with a crispy, salty crust reminiscent of the famed burnt ends from Kansas City barbecue. The four of us eating the brisket consumed half of the 6-pound (before cooking) roast at one sitting. (Caryn enjoyed Vegan Black Pepper Steaks from Vegetarian Plus.) The side dishes were all light and fresh, perfect complements to the brisket. The compliments I received were gratifying, but the demand for seconds was even more so. The pie, too, was well received and Chef Caleb, who loves his fresh fruit, had seconds. I look forward to having the leftover brisket during the upcoming week.

Barbecued Brisket
Summer Berry Pie

Glazed Salmon was reheated in the microwave. It was OK but in the future I will not plan on preparing enough salmon to have leftovers. Perhaps if I'd saved some of the leftover glaze it would have been better, but I doubt it would have been worthwhile even then.


  1. That looks like my kind of dinner. What will you be cooking when you come to the B&B?

    1. Probably not barbecue. What would you like?

  2. I'll think on that :-) You will be here for a Sunday!