Sunday, 23 September 2012

Brisket. Nailed.

This was my third go at brisket this week. The first one was AWFUL. You know that soggy grey rope that hangs wistfully from large ships when they are moored to bollards at port... yeah, that bad.
Second one was much better, using a HFW recipe. He normally knows about meat.
However, the third one was even better. Now, such is the nature of brisket (and skirt, flank, chuck etc) that the improvement might have been pure fluke. I will let you know about the repeat performances. For what it's worth, these are the changes I made.

I bought two 1kg rolled joints, unrolled them, put garlic, dried oregano and caramelised onion slices in the middle and rerolled the two pieces of meat together. I got some beef fat from my butcher, beat it flat, like sheets of paper and wrapped the new joint in this. The whole was then trussed together.
I used a heavy iron casserole. After 30mins of lidless roasting at 180°C, I added a half bottle of red wine, some chunky carrots and a bay leaf.
Lid on, and cooked for 4 hours at 140°C with basting every 30 mins. I also drained off much of the cooking juice, so not to boil the meat. These juices were retained and reduced, naturally.
Lid off for the last hour and temperature up to 160°C. Keep an eye on the juices/wine in the dish at this stage, don't let them get too sticky and burn.
After five and a half hours total cooking, I removed the beef and wrapped it doubly in foil and a blanket. This was rested for 30mins.

To the reduced juices, I added a splash of port and recurrent jelly.
I split the sauce into two pans. One was reduced even further to make a thick daub that I used to brush on the beef. The other I reduced slightly and then allowed to cool slightly before whipping in 50g of unsalted butter for gloss, mouthfeel and flavour. Both sauces were also seasoned.

When combined, this was delicious. Proper BEEFY flavour. The fat had all melted away into the joint. Great texture: soft and yielding and not even slightly tough. A huge umami hit. Like being hit in the face by a slightly charred but very polite bull. I'd say this was some of the best meat I've ever cooked. Of the eight people who eat it, none left a scrap.

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