In the spirit of Feisty Foodie, I cooked up a Super Sunday Supper of sorts for Easter, with a brisket on-hand of nearly five pounds. My smoker, a stovetop cast-iron behemoth from Emeril, can’t handle a slab of meat that size. What to do, what to do… oh, let’s smoke half and braise half!
First off, I dry-rubbed both halves of the brisket in a combination of kosher salt, fresh-ground pepper, white pepper, paprika, and a few dashes of cayenne pepper. I don’t measure these as much as I eyeball it, weighting it heavily toward the salt and fresh pepper. Smoking was simple: several tablespoons of oak chips in the base of the smoker, smoked on medium-low heat for 2 1/2 hours. The apartment smelled amaaazing.
The braise got a little more work. I sauted half a Spanish onion, coarsely chopped, and four minced cloves of garlic in olive oil until the onions were translucent. I then added the meat and a few cups of liquid, to not quite cover. For the braising liquid, I had a couple of cups of tomato juice left over (from a salsa), so I diluted that a little with water just to see if the acidity of the tomato would contribute anything special to the brisket.
After 2 1/2 hours of braising at 350 degrees, turning the meat in the covered dish every half hour or so, the finished product was perhaps a little more done than I may have liked, but smelled great.
Lest I eat only meat, I prepared a couple of side dishes as well. First up were the salt potatoes. I filled a small pot about two-thirds full of hot water, and started adding salt — regular table salt is fine — until it was no longer going into solution. That is a LOT of salt, mind you, even for a smallish pot. After that, it was as simple as dropping in as many small white potatoes as would fit, then bringing the pot to a boil for about 20 minutes until the potatoes were fork-tender. Note that, uncovered, the potato pot left my stovetop just a bit worse for wear.
Not pictured, as it’s kind of boring, is the asparagus, simmered in a frying pan with a little salted water just to prevent grilling, for two to three minutes, then drained, salted and served with melted butter. I just had to make sure the stalks didn’t get too wilted, as that annoys me.
And the finished brisket, both halves: left side is the smoked brisket, right side the braised. The smoked came out juicier, if a touch more medium than I like, while the brisket benefited from the tomato-onion-garlic mixture on the plate.
Of course I loved both briskets, but if I had to choose, next time it’s all getting smoked, somehow. I like a lot of cayenne to season various slabs of meat, so both briskets had a spicy kick that did little to make me stop eating. The garlic and onion really helped the braised brisket, but the tomato got a bit washed out in the final analysis. The salt potatoes delivered, though: I’ve loved them since my first visit to the Syracuse Dinosaur BBQ, so to get an approximation of those (sans gravy) made me proud. And the asparagus was, well, my vegetable concession on Easter Sunday, trying to look like I’m eating healthy and all.
All this was fairly painless to make and required little attentiveness. Cleanup isn’t quick, I’ll be honest. But for a sizable meal with plenty of leftovers — I took two lunches of this to work that week — you can’t beat a good brisket!