Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Brisket in Half the Time, Gas-Grilled and Oven-Finished

For the last three years my husband and I have bought a half side of beef. It's an amazing thing to have a well-stocked freezer. After experiencing this convenience I don't want to live without it if I can help it. Buying a side of beef also forces you to learn how to cook cuts that you might not normally buy. That brings me to brisket. It's such a challenging cut of beef for the home cook. You have to cook it low and slow like pork shoulder to break down all the collagen, and it needs to reach a temperature of 210 before that happens. However, at that temperature you run the risk of the meat getting dried out. I don't have a smoker. I didn't want to spend 10 hours trying to cook this brisket on my gas grill. So I turned to a trusted source, America's Test Kitchen. Sure enough, they have a method that starts 2 hours on the grill with some wood chips and finishes in the oven. I realize that "breaks the rules" for a true BBQ brisket, but it was the solution I needed. My 3 lb. brisket cooked in 4 1/2 hours instead of the 8, 10, or 12 it can take (depending on the size) in a smoker. While the brisket is cooking you can enjoy your day, and make a few easy side dishes.

Brisket in Half the Time, Gas-Grilled and Oven-Finished
(Adapted from America's Test Kitchen)
brisket from 3 to 11 pounds
ingredients for dry rub (see below)
2 cups of wood chips, soaked for 15 minutes
ingredients for BBQ sauce (see below) or use your favorite bottled sauce

For the dry rub
4 Tablespoons of paprika
2 Tablespoons of chili powder
2 Tablespoons of cumin
2 Tablespoons of dark brown sugar
1 Tablespoon of celery salt
1 Tablespoon salt
1 Tablespoon of oregano
1 Tablespoon of allspice
1 Tablespoon of mustard powder
1 Tablespoon of medium grind of black pepper
1 Tablespoon of sugar
1 Tablespoon of garlic
1 teaspoon of white pepper
1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper

1. Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl (make a head and keep for months in an airtight container).

2. Make sure the brisket doesn't have a fat cap thicker than 1/4 inch. If it does trim some fat off but be sure leave some of the fat cap so that it self bastes as it cooks. Rub the spice mixture generously all over the brisket, patting it in, making sure it's fully covered. Wrap the brisket in plastic wrap and leave in the refrigerator in a glass dish for at least 2 hours up to two days.  I did this the night before I cooked it. You can use leftover rub for ribs or other cuts of pork.

3. Plan on at least 5 hours of cooking time and 30 minutes of resting time for larger cuts of meat. For a small brisket it will still take 4 hours of cooking time plus 30 minutes of resting time. Working your way backward from the time you want to serve to figure out when you need to start cooking. One hour before you start cooking take the brisket out of the refrigerator to bring it to room temperature.

4. 30 minutes before your chosen cooking start time soak wood chips in water.  I used two weber prepackaged wood chips. You can also place soaked wood chips in a foil pack with a few knife slashes in the top to let the smoke out.

5. 15 minutes before your chosen cooking start time light the grill and keep both burners on high. Place the wood chips to one side.

6. At your chosen cook start time open the grill lid (you should see smoke from the wood chips), turn off the side of the grill opposite the wood chips, clean those grates and place the brisket on the "cool" side, close the lid and grill for 2 hours with opening or touching the lid again. Turn down the "hot" side to medium or medium low. You want the temperature to eventually drop to about 275 degrees and remain there.

7. After about 1 hour and 45 minutes of cooking time on the grill preheat your oven to 300 degrees and prepare a foil pouch crimping two pieces together if necessary to make the foil wide enough to fold over and accommodate the brisket.

8. After two hours on the grill move the brisket to the foil, seal the brisket in the foil, and place in a preheated oven for another 2 to 3 hours. Unless you have a small 3 lb brisket chances are you will need three more hours of cooking time.

9. Bake until the internal temperature reads 210 degrees. Vent the package to let steam out and let the brisket rest for 20 - 30 minutes. While the brisket is resting you can make homemade BBQ sauce (or you can heat up some of your favorite bottled sauce. Place brisket on cutting board. If you have a full cut brisket there is actually two different pieces/parts and the grain runs in different directions on each. Separate the two pieces then cut each piece in this slices against the grain.

for the BBQ sauce
8 oz of rice vinegar
4 oz of apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup of tomato paste
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1 tablespoon of yellow mustard
1 teaspoon of chili powder
2 teaspoons of onion powder
2 teaspoons of garlic powder
1 teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon of cayenne
1/3 teaspoon of white pepper
2 tablespoons of honey (optional)

1. Gather and measure out all the ingredients for the sauce.

2. Heat vinegar, tomato paste, and brown sugar in a pot until the sugar is melted.

3. In a ramekin mix all the rest of the ingredients, except the honey, into a smooth paste and add to the tomato sauce in the pot.

4. Bring to a boil then turn down the heat to simmer on low for 15 - 20 minutes. The longer you simmer the sauce the more the vinegar will mellow - so be careful if you want to attempt that true Open Pit flavor. If you want to use the sauce right away, add the optional honey for a little extra sweet. If you want to simmer your sauce longer you might want to add more vinegar in the beginning. The key to finding the Open Pit flavor is the balance between the sweet and the vinegar.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Classic Broccoli Salad (with a Twist, of Course)

I had to use my fingers and toes to count how many years ago that I first had this dish. My best guess is about 32 years ago. I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't done the math. That's why I'm officially calling this a "classic" dish. To the best of my recollection I first had this dish at a cousin's baby shower when I was still in high school in the 1980's, and I asked my cousin for the recipe. The original recipe calls for golden raisins and sunflower seeds. I substitute those items for dried cherries and shelled pumpkin seeds. The cherries are an homage to my Michigan roots. They are delicious.

Classic Broccoli Salad
4 cups broccoli florets
1/2 cup red onion, minced
8 slices of bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
1/4 cup dried cherries
1/8 cup shelled pumpkin seeds (or sunflower seeds)
3/4 cup mayonaise
3 Tablespoons of rice vinegar (or white vinegar)
1/4 cup of sugar

1. Gather all your ingredients.

2. In a small bowl mix together the mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, and set aside. If you are feeling ambitious you can make homemade mayonnaise.

3. Mince onion and chop broccoli in florets. If you want a great time saver look for pre-cut florets in your produce department. Then you might only need to cut a few of the bigger pieces in half.

4. Add broccoli, onion, cherries, and pumpkin seeds to a medium sized bowl.

5. Add most of the bacon but reserve a handful to top the salad right before serving. I still love making bacon in the oven.

6. Add the dressing.

7. Carefully toss. This salad gets better after a couple hours of marinating in the dressing. If you can make ahead give it a final stir before topping with the remaining bacon.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Grilled Cheesy Smashed Potatoes with Rosemary and Olive Oil

I'm addicted to cooking on my BBQ! It's opening up a whole new chapter in my Foodie Journey Family Cookbook. Even if it is smokin' hot outside, it's better to cook outside than inside because you're not raising the heat in the house. If you have one of those BBQ's with a burner you can make this dish entirely outside. Otherwise, you do need to parboil the potatoes inside first. You can even do this ahead of time!

Grilled Cheesy Smashed Potatoes with Rosemary and Olive Oil
2 lbs. of small Yukon gold potatoes
1 Tablespoon of salt
finely grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon of dried rosemary or fresh if you have it
3 Tablespoons of finely grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

1.  Add clean potatoes to a pot of cold water and 1 tablespoon of salt. Bring to a low boil and continue to cook until you can pierce with a knife with little resistance.

2. Place potatoes on a cutting board and let cool to the touch. Use the heel of your hand to smash the potatoes while still keeping them whole.

3. Place potatoes in a grill basket and place the grill basket on a plate. Drizzle generously with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and crushed rosemary.

4. Heat grill on high for 15 minutes, brush clean, and place potatoes over high heat for about 6 - 7 minutes. Check and flip half way through if needed to create plenty of crispy bites. You can see that I was also grilling asparagus which doesn't take as long as the potatoes. So when the asparagus was done I was able to use a second grill grate after the flip.

6. Remove from heat and finish with more extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, and the parmesan cheese.


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