Ahhh, May. What a wonderful month! Not too hot, not too cool, and not too rainy. It’s just perfect Texas weather.
But that has nothing to do with why we like May so much. May is National BBQ Month! And May 28th is National Brisket Day! So, while the weather is certainly nice, it’s the celebration of meat that gets us all riled up!
Not too long ago, brisket was the lowly underdog of the barbecue world falling in behind pork and ribs. But once the world got a taste of Texas brisket, things began to change. Now you can find this once solely Texas icon all over the country from Brooklyn, to Portland and even infiltrating the holiest of pig palaces, North Carolina.
It’s not that pork isn’t delicious, but that brisket’s fist full of flavor can just punch you right in the palate like nothing else. It’s a powerful flavor combined with an exquisite texture that pushes brisket to the top of Meat Mountain.
Brisket cooking took a turn for the easier with the invention of wood-enhanced gas ovens. No longer was tending the fire a 24-hour job requirement as ‘cuers could load them up with briskets and other meats and then just set it and forget it.
While science made brisket more accessible, it was turning away from the science and back to old traditions that made it so popular. All-wood pits have turned into a meat movement honoring the gods of gristle and goodness. There’s just no other way to get that crunchy crust and succulent, creamy interior.
We’ve put together some ridiculicious recipes – yep, ridiculicious (delicious + ridiculous) – to help you celebrate the King of ‘Cuetopia!
Brisket with Lemon-Oregano Sauce
- 3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 12 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/3 cup chopped oregano leaves (about 2 bunches)
- 1 Tablespoon kosher salt
- 2 Tablespoons coarsely cracked black peppercorns
- 1 Tablespoon juniper berries, crushed
- One 6-pound first-cut brisket, with fat cap attached (*see note below)
- 2 quarts chicken stock or low-sodium broth
- 2 quarts water
- 3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup chopped oregano leaves
- 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground pepper
Prepare the brisket
- In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, combine the olive oil, garlic, oregano, salt, peppercorns and juniper. Put the brisket in the pot, fat side up, and rub the garlic-oregano mixture all over it. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
- Add the broth and water to the casserole; the brisket should be submerged. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to moderately low and simmer for about 3 1/2 hours, turning the brisket halfway, until the meat is very tender. Transfer the brisket fat side up to a rack set over a rimmed baking sheet and cover loosely with foil. Skim the fat from the surface of the broth; boil until reduced to 2 cups, about 30 minutes.
Make the sauce
- In a food processor, puree the lemon juice, garlic, 1/4 cup of the oregano and the oil until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl. Stir in the remaining oregano.
- Preheat the oven to 450°. Roast the brisket on the top shelf of the oven for 15 minutes, until deeply golden and crispy on top. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 15 minutes.
- Thinly slice the brisket and drizzle with some of the reduced cooking liquid. Serve with the lemon-oregano sauce.
The first-cut (or flat-cut) is a lean one, so leaving the fat cap attached is crucial: It keeps the brisket moist during braising.
Juicy Smoked Brisket
- Whole Brisket (4-6 lbs.)
- 3 oz. Meyer’s BBQ Rub
- 1-2 days before, rub brisket well with rub, and wrap tightly with H.D. plastic wrap, place in pan and refrigerate, or place in ice chest.
- On the day of the cook, start early by moving the brisket out of the fridge.
- Prepare your fire for the smoker, and, on a separate grill, prepare a VERY hot fire for searing the brisket.
- When smoker is up to temp (250°- 275°) sear brisket thoroughly on all sides and ends as well. We’re talking so black that it looks like it’s ruined, but don’t worry, it’s not. While it’s okay to pierce the meat with a fork at this point, it’s preferable not to. You may need help turning it with tongs.
- Once seared, place brisket in foil pan, fat side up, and smoke, uncovered for 2 hours.
- Flip brisket and smoke for 1 hour. At this point, the juices inside are under a fair amount of pressure. It is important not to pierce the meat from this point until it is done.
- Flip brisket back to fat side up and cover with foil.
- Continue to smoke until internal temperature of 200° is obtained. There will come a point where the temp won’t go up no matter what you do. This is normal. Resist the temptation to kick up the temp in your smoker. Time remaining to achieve 200° should be 5-9 hours. The reason for such a large variable is that smoker temps are not precise, and amount of “open time” will vary from cook to cook.
- When 200° is obtained, remove from smoker, and allow to cool until it is safe to handle, then carefully lift brisket out and remove to a cutting board, and tent with foil. A long spatula, or some other long support will be helpful, because it will probably try to break up on you. Run pan juices through a grease separator and freeze smoky grease in ice cube trays for baked bean seasoning (folks that’ve never had beans that way will be in awe). Reserve pan juice to serve over brisket.
- Once cooled enough, separate the point from the flat. There will be a fairly easy to follow fat layer separating the two. Just gently slide a knife through the fat and lift and pull the point away as you cut. If you accidentally cut into the meat, it’s no tragedy, just back up a little, and go at it again.
- Once separated, slice the point cross grain, trimming off excess fat as you go. You will likely find several slices that are too fatty to serve, or maybe some of the outer shell that’s too dry to serve. Reserve this meat, chop it fine, freeze, and save for baked bean seasoning.
- If you look at the flat, you will see that the grain of the meat changes direction about in the middle of the cut. Cut the flat in half at this point and slice cross grain in 1/2#-3/4# slices.
- Reheat the pan juices. There should be adequate juices to saturate the brisket. If not, supplement with store bought au jus.
- Place sliced brisket in pan or dish with slices in the same shape as they were before slicing and pour juices over the top.
- Serve open faced on white bread with a little extra au jus over the top.
Slow Cooker Beer Brisket Sandwiches with Horseradish Sour Cream
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 large white onion, sliced
- 4 lbs. Meyer’s Beef Brisket
- 5 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- 12 ounces stout, porter or brown ale
- 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 Tablespoon cream style horseradish
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- 12 slider buns
- In a skillet over medium heat add the oil, butter and onions. Cook until lightly caramelized, about 15 minutes. Remove from pan, set aside.
- Sear the brisket in the onion pan until browned on all sides. Add to a slow cooker. Top with onions and garlic, then add the beer, Worcestershire sauce and balsamic.
- Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or until fork tender.
- Remove the brisket, thinly slice.
- Drain the onions, transfer to a small bowl.
- In a small bowl stir together the sour cream, horseradish, garlic powder and smoked paprika.
- Fill the buns with brisket, onions and sour cream mixture.
And if you’re wondering what to do with your leftover brisket, we’ve got you covered like sauce on ribs! Keep reading…
Brisket Grilled Cheese Sandwich
- 8 slices Italian bread or Texas toast
- 1 cup heaping shredded Cheddar cheese
- 1 cup heaping shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- 2-3 slices leftover brisket, shredded
- Spread about 1/2 Tablespoon on one side of each piece of bread. To make a sandwich, place a piece of bread buttered-side down.
- Cover the unbuttered side with shredded Cheddar cheese, then a layer of brisket, followed by a layer of shredded Monterey Jack cheese.
- Place another piece of bread unbuttered side down on top. Repeat for remaining sandwiches.
- Heat a pan, preferably cast iron, over medium heat. Cook 1 or 2 sandwiches at a time, until golden brown on both sides and cheese is melted.
- 12 burrito-sized tortillas
- 1-2 lbs. brisket
- 1-2 cups BBQ sauce
- 16 oz. shredded Colby Jack cheese
- Smother the brisket in the BBQ sauce.
- Set out 6 flour tortillas and sprinkle with half the cheese.
- Divide the brisket among the tortillas.
- Sprinkle on the remaining cheese and top with the other 6 tortillas.
- Use cooking spray on a large sauté pan and cook quesadillas on low to medium heat.
- Cook until browned and then flip.
- Remove when cheese is just about melting. Let sit a few minutes.
- Cut and serve!