brisket slices: should I bbq them or smoke them?

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by butzy, Sep 25, 2011.

  1. butzy

    butzy

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    I had some clients requesting thin slices of brisket for a barbeque.

    I would not have though of putting brisket like that on a bbq, but that’s a different story.

    I ordered some from my butcher and asked him what he thought. He’s South African and he said they use it fairly often, cook it slowly on the bbq and they call it poor-man’s-bacon.

    My clients cooked it over high fire and they loved it.

    I got a couple of slices left and I’m thinking of doing the following;

    1- Smoke them as slow as possible on my stove top smoker and then maybe finish them of on the bbq or on the stove on the griddle pan to get those nice lines on it.

    Or

    2 - Use my kettle braai, make an indirect fire, put a drip pan underneath the brisket slices and cook them slowly

    Would this work and result in a tender piece of meat? What should I look out for?

    I’m thinking of marinating the slices first, but  maybe I should brine instead?

    Any advice will be appreciated.

    Most posts I’ve read talk about using a whole brisket, but I’m stuck with those slices and I don’t really want to make a stew out of them (although that can always be plan C, maybe in the pressure cooker….)
     
  2. chefedb

    chefedb

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    f not done correctly, time and temp they willo emerge like a beef jerky..
     
  3. butzy

    butzy

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    I realise that. Can you give me some pointers about how to do this correctly?

    I quite like beef jerky (or biltong) but I don't wanna make that this time /img/vbsmilies/smilies/licklips.gif
     
  4. chefedb

    chefedb

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    I am not an authority on smoking foods. There is however a gentleman on here that I feel is. His handle is BDL. possibly if he sees this he will answer you.. Chef Billy or Chef Bubba  may also be helpful to you.
     
  5. dcarch

    dcarch

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    If the brisket is thinly sliced, it is difficult not to overcook on a grill.

    Mostly brisket is braised for a few hour to be tender.

    Or,

    I have a slab of brisket in my sous vide cooker now, it is set at 131 F and 48 hours cooking time. By the time it is done it will come out medium rare and truly fork tender.

    If you have a smoker that can keep accurate temperature, you can achieve amazing tender texture.

    dcarch
     
  6. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Very thinly sliced brisket is a staple of "Korean Barbecue." Since it's enjoyed by millions of people, it can't be all that hard to get right -- and indeed it isn't. It's very easy to cook over a very hot fire, but you've got to be very fast. On, turn, off. It goes so quickly, it's best if you can provide enough tongs and grill space for guests to do it themselves Korean style; but it's still very doable done by "the help."

    Obviously, you're not looking for an authentic Korean presentation. But you can definitely adopt a lot of the techniques. No one does it any better, that's for sure. So why not?

    You want to use the point (aka "deckle") -- NOT the flat -- from a very good, well-marbled (expensive) animal. Reserve the flat for other purposes. You want the top trimmed reasonably closely, but want to plenty of fat in the meat. Have your butcher slice very thin, roughly 2mm to 3mm, across the grain (only!). A great deal of the tenderness will come from the slicing, Roll the slices into... well... rolls. Put them on sheet pan, cover with saran wrap, and freeze. Hold frozen until just before cooking. If they go on the grill frozen, that's wonderful, they can defrost and open up there.

    When you cook, you're looking for anything from rare to mid-well. Anything short of well done will be wonderful. The less well, the more tender.

    Do NOT marinate or season the meat before cooking. Instead provide a range of dipping sauces and a few dry seasonings -- such as very coarse salt, sliced raw chillies, etc. -- as well. I hate to go all Sooth Effrikan on you, but Monkey sauce would shine.

    Served this way, brisket is wonderful but might be a little too monotonous as the only protein. You could use some slightly thicker slices of pork belly, marinated pork (or game, or whatever) and boned chicken thighs cut into quarters to add some variety. Prawns or shrimp if you can get them big and fresh.

    Serve bowls of large lettuce leaves which guests may use as "wraps" for eating out of hand. Make sure to point out that wrapping is optional not mandatory -- again, you want to avoid monotony. Serve with lots of salads, pickles and sides.

    I don't recommend smoking pre-sliced brisket. It's a difficult meat to do under the best of circumstances, and the smaller the piece the worse the circumstances. Of course you can certainly thin slice it after smoking -- which is normally how you'd cut for a barbecued brisket sandwich -- but that doesn't seem to be the on the program. If I'm reading you wrong, and you're interested in smoking a whole brisket which you'll then slicing for service, just say the word.

    Away we go,
    BDL
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2011
  7. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    I was actually thinking of starting a thread on a similar subject.  I want to know if a braised piece of meat can then be seared.  Greeks like to cut pork belly into 1/2 inch slices and grill them like a steak.  I love the flavor of it but I find the meat to be too tough.  So I'll be keeping an eye on this thread.
     
  8. butzy

    butzy

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    Thanks all so far,

    By the way, this is for a private exercise and is not going to be served in the restaurant (unless of cours it turns out very well)

    I would have prefered to have a whole brisket and take it from there, but I'm just left with a couple of slices of about 1.5 cm thick, so quite a bit thicker than for the korean style food. As said, i would never have thought of brisket slices for on the bbq, but now I got them I just want to try.

    What I've been thinking of as well is slow cooking them with spices etc, keeping the slices whole and then when they are tender to throw them on the bbq, a bit like Koukouvagia is describing. I got some Malay and Indonesian recipes that would be suitable, maybe

    BDL; why do you suggest not marinating? Wouldn't an acid based marinate make the meat more tender? And what about brining?

    Might just have to find time to do a full day cooking and try out all different options.....
     
  9. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Good brisket is already very tender, as long as it's sliced correctly AND not cooked incorrectly. No amount of marinating will compensate for incorrect slicing. The meat will always, at least be stringy. Furthermore, the "problems" with brisket are the amount of collagenous "connective" tissue which making it tough, the strength of the muscle fibers along their their long axis (which makes brisket stringy), and the amount of fat from the caps (and flecked through the deckle) which can be unpalatable if not handled correctly. Marinating won't help with any of the challenges.

    For those playing the home game in the states, 1.5cm is a skosh bigger than 1/2". That's on the thick side for sandwiches, and about average for a slice taken from a cooked, whole flat or point. BTW, you didn't say whether it was flat or point.

    Honestly, I'm not sure what the best way to handle brisket sliced like that would be. The first thing I'd do is try grilling it over direct heat to rare, and see what that gets. The process of slow-cooking brisket to tenderness can't be accomplished over a hot grill or in pieces that thin. So you might as well try a close trim, quick cooking and seeing what happens.

    If it's already sliced across the grain, I suppose I'd freeze it and re-slice it thinner using a slicing machine and use it as already described.

    Otherwise, I'd slow cook with lots of onions in a liquid such as beer flavored with pastram i spices, "barbecue sauce," or whatever, and try to do a sort of pre-sliced gedempte fleish pot roast. If you're going to brown it first, be gentle (words you don't like associated with browning). I think you'll have to cook at a very low and steady temp. Afterwards, I'd serve straight from the pot with plenty of sauce.

    Parenthetically, a lot of people here in the States slow cook meat in barbecue sauce and call it "barbecue." This "misuse" of the word barbecue completely scandalizes a lot of 'q heads who think of themselves as keepers of the purity flame. It's pretty amusing, really.

    An alternative is to smoke it until it's sucked up some flavor, cut it in small cubes and use it to make chili or as "burnt ends" for beans. As the name "burnt ends" suggests, you can overcook the meat pretty thoroughly before it goes into the pot and not hurt anything. If you've ever used brisket for any kind of stew, you know what you're facing. Good general advice: "Cut your dice small enough to minimize the inherent stringiness;" but, since 1.5cm dice is about right that shouldn't present much of a problem. At a guess, the pot roast things will both work acceptably; and the chili and beans will be quite good.

    Most modern American chili makers cook beans in their chili. The tradition in the Southwest -- from Texas to California -- is to make chili without beans, but serve beans separately. The Mexican parent dish from which chili evolved, chili colorado, is always made without beans. Gordon Ramsay says "traditional Texas chili" is made with beans, and also says "traditional Caesar salad" includes bacon. It's possible to be a great cook and still be the south end of a north walking horse.

    The problem with re-heating brisket on a grill is that if it's cooked right to begin with it's very tender and has a tendency to fall apart. So, I wouldn't plan on the grill (brai) if you must) without doing some experimenting first. Speaking of which, I'd grab a few of those slices and start fooling ASAP.

    BDL
     
  10. butzy

    butzy

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    Started experimenting over the last couple of days....

    Brisket slice on the braai (BBQ) at high heat (I was going to cook some spare ribs, so while I was waiting for the heat to go down I threw a slice of brisket on it)

    Cooked it briefly as suggested by BDL. Was good but slightly undercooked, so put it back on and it turned out very nice and juicy. Very rich though, as expected

    That was about 3 minutes each side on a miniature fake Weber braai, high heat, with the lid on to prevent flames.

    Next idea was to put the slices in the oven at low low heat. The lowest my oven can go is 100 oC (210 oF). I left the slices in there for about 3 hours. They were OK. not tough or anything, but not really something I will do again. Just found the taste a bit strong.

    note that i did not season or marinate any of the meat.....

    Next on the programm:

    One slice slow cooked and then either on the bbq or in the smoker, and while I cook it i will put another slice in the steamer above it. Also to be smoked or put on the braai....

    Did I mention that my dogs love these experiments /img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif

    BDL; I got no idea what part of the brisket this is. I will try and post a couple of pictures. I still struggle with the names and the way they cut meat around here. I grew up in continental Europe and we got a total different way of cutting up the animals. I just asked the butcher for thin slices of the best quality brisket he had....
     
  11. maryb

    maryb

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    If it is well marbled with fat it is from the point, if it is lean and maybe has a fat strip down the edge it is from the flat.
     
  12. butzy

    butzy

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    Thanks Mary,
    It got quite a lot of fat, but is not really marbled. it got strips of fat through it, not really at the edge.
    Suppose at times like this a picture says more than a thousand words, so here are the pics (hope this works)
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    I made some pictures of my set-up for the next experiments as well (described in one of my posts above)
    2 slices are being boiled slowly, with aromatics this time (ginger, dried galangal, lesser galangal powder, lemongrass, chili paste, onion, soy and garlic). I figure that will at least give me a nice asian style soup
    [​IMG]
    the other 2 slices are in a steamer above (on the highest setting)
    [​IMG]
    The next step is smoking or bbq'ing the slices............
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2011
  13. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Point (aka deckle).

    BDL
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2011
  14. butzy

    butzy

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    Thanks BDL.

    The slices cooked with spices and the ones that were steamed both turned out nice and tender.

    I lost the battle with myself and sacrifised one slice (the cooked one) to go back in the broth which I ate for lunch with some noodles....

    3 slices still waiting to be either smoked or bbq-ed

    To be continued....
     
  15. butzy

    butzy

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    So here (finally) the rest of the story. I've finished experimenting for now.  Just haven’t had the time to write everything down.

    I left of with 4 slices of brisket, 2 slow cooked (with Indonesian spices) and 2 steamed. 1 of the slow cooked ones ended back in the broth and got eaten as a noodle soup.

    The left-over broth (of the slow cooked brisket with Indonesian spices) got turned into some form of fusion dal (lentil dish, but with Indonesian spices and fish sauce). It turned out very tasty. See picture below:

    [​IMG]

    The 3 brisket slices (2 steamed and 1 slow cooked) got put in my hot smoker. I used brandied oak and smoked them for about 45 minutes and left them to sit in the smoker for another 15 minutes or so. Here’s a picture of my smoker and the end result and my biggest fan

    [​IMG]

     [​IMG]

    The slow cooked slice came out absolutely gorgeous, the steamed ones slightly tough.

    The steamed one got used up in some form of stew. Definitely not the way to go! I would rate those in the same category as the ones that got cooked in the oven.

    The slow cooked and smoked ones ended up in a burrito. This is the winner of the experiment. Also because I ended up with a delicious broth as a bonus!

    [​IMG]

    The slice that got bbq-ed for just a minute of 2-3 on either side is a good second. Very nice and tender, just a bit too fatty for my liking
     
  16. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Yay Butzy!

    BDL