Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Dutch Oven Long Roasted Beef Brisket

This is a dish I’ve been wanting to try for possibly as much as a year.  As I would shop, I’d go past the meat counter and see these huge slabs of brisket meat, in plastic, and I’d think, “That would be so much fun to cook up.”  I had this idea of doing one and inviting the whole neighborhood over for a pot luck.

Well, this last weekend, I had the chance!  We were at a campground up at Bear Lake with a group of families with children with special medical needs.  The group is called “Hope Kids” and we’ve got many wonderful friends in it.

So, for dinner saturday night, I cooked this brisket.  It was about 11+ pounds, and at a rate of about a half hour per pound, that meant a good 6-hour cook time.  So, I started at about noon.

Dutch Oven Long Roasted Beef Brisket

1x 14” Deep Dutch oven

14-16 coals below
16-20 coals above

1 Beef Brisket, anywhere from 8-12 lbs (figure about 1/2 lb per person)

Mark’s Meat Rub

1 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp crushed coriander
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp coarse ground black pepper
1 Tbsp thyme
2 Tbsp paprika
2 Tbsp salt
1 tsp oregano
...and I added some chili powder this time

The Sauce

1 6 oz can of tomato paste
1 8 oz can of tomato sauce
Brown sugar (or regular sugar and molasses)
Some kind of hot spice (Cayenne Pepper or Chili powder)

I started out by opening up the brisket and sprinkling it with the meat rub (which I had mixed up the night before) on both sides.  I rubbed it in a bit.  The rub (and the sauce) come from this recipe.  I let it sit for a while, and lit up about 35 coals or so.

I lightly oiled the inside of my 14” deep Dutch oven, and for a while, I contemplated using an overturned metal pie plate as a trivet to raise the meat up out of the juices that would drip out.  Usually, when I do a roast, I’ll put in a layer of quartered onions and potato chunks for that purpose, but with a 6-hr cook time, they would be pretty much mush by the end of it..  In the end, I decided that the brisket would fit better if I just put it on the bottom and draped it up the sides.

With the meat in place, I put it on the coals as above.  I stuck in a thermometer, mostly just to monitor progress.  It will cook waaay past “done”.

This is the kind of cooking that I especially like.  I can just sit back and relax with a soda and watch the coals burn.  About every 20-30 minutes, I’d pull a few coals out of the chimney and replenish them on the oven.  I’d usually put about four around the bottom and six or so on top.  Then, I’d add more fresh coals to the pile to light up.  While I was doing this, friends and families that were camping with us would come by and chat.  I got to meet a few people who are Dutch oven chefs, and a few who’d actually bought my books.

About 2 1/2 hours it, the meat was at about a medium done-ness, and it hit “well done” at probably an hour and a half later.  I just kept on cooking and rotating the coals.  At about 4:00, I started to work on another 14” pot of au gratin potatoes, a smaller version of which can be found here.

Finally, about an hour before serving time, I mixed up the BBQ sauce.  When I mix this up, I make it like a good jazz tune, with lots of improvisation.  I start with a core of the tomato, the mustard, and the sugar (or in this case, the molasses), and then I keep adding flavors and things one at a time until it all balances.  Too sweet?  Too tomato-y?  Add more mustard.  Too tangy?  More sugar and molasses.  Not enough edge?  More black pepper and chili powder...  And always just enough salt to make it come alive.  I basted that over the visible surface of the brisket and let it bake on.  I did this two or three times, and the remaining sauce, I reserved for drizzling at service.

When it was all done, and time to eat, I cut the brisket in half and put half on my cutting board.  I cut thin slices against the meat’s grain, and served that with a drizzle of additional BBQ sauce.  It was so juicy and tender and delicious.  The sauce and the rub really added to the overall flavor. I was really proud of it.  I want to do this again and again!

Mark has discovered a love of Dutch Oven Cooking. Mark also has other sites and blogs, including MarkHansenMusic.com and his MoBoy blog.

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