Quick Look_______________I would have to say brisket is my favorite meat under $2/lb. It has great flavor and once you get past the toughness, it becomes quite tender. Just roast it in the oven and follow a few principles and you'll be enjoying tender meat. I actually recomend my other recipe for this.
- Prep time: 10 minutes
- Cook time: 12+ hrs
- Difficulty: Intermediate/Easy. If trimmed incorrectly, the meat could become too tender.
- Labor Intensity: Could do by yourself.
- 30 servings, adjust by 1.5x if your group tends to eat multiple servings.
- 20-25 lb Beef Brisket [$1.89/lb at smart and final on international/42nd]
- Salt (I prefer coarse kosher salt)
- Black pepper
- burgundy or red cooking wine (optional) or you can use beef broth base from smart and final (optional)
- 48 Buns [12 pack for $2 at smart and final or costco, I think costco quality is a bit higher]
- BBQ sauce [I like cattlemen smoky, $8 for a 2pack at costco]
- Total: about $55.00
- Choose meat that is lean. One side has fat, choose the cut that has the thinnest layer of fat.
- Preheat oven to 190F
- Trim the fat off the meat. Leave 1/8-1/4 inch still on the meat to keep it moist. You can trim off about 50-60% of the fat.
- Score the fat (make cuts into the fat, but stop when you hit meat or just before. You want to make 1/2 inch horizontal and vertical checkerboard cuts across the fat)
- Rub the whole meat with oil
- Place the meat in an aluminum tray. You may need 2 aluminum trays for this.
- Pour 1/4 inch of cooking wine, water, or beef broth into the tray on top of the meat (it should be a little, just enough to keep the meat moist) The meat should not be swimming in juice.
- Sprinkle 1 spoonful of salt into liquid, sprinkle some black pepper as well
- Pour bbq sauce to coat meat, you can pour some into liquid as well.
- Place in oven for 12 hours. You can score the meat the night before and pour in liquid into tray in morning. Place in oven and leave to work. It will be ready at 7pm when you come back, ready for small group/homegroup dinner.
- [Alternate cooking] Put it in oven at midnight. Check on 1/4 inch water level and tenderness, drain or add liquid in morning before work. Come back at 5pm and serve. It will be cooking for 17 hrs this way. It should be very tender.
- Flip the meat over to lean side and look for lines. They should be running diagonally, cut perpendicular to these lines (cutting against the grain). Cuts should be 1/8 inch thick
- Drain the drippings and pour into a bowl if people want it on the side. You can also trim off the fat from the meat before serving.
- Coat the meat with bbq sauce. Serve with buns. Serve drippings on the side if people want to pour a spoonful on sandwich.
Tom's Tips and Tricks_______________
If the fat layer isn't trimmed enough, the fat will melt and will surround the meat. Since oil transfers heat much better than air, it may overcook and become too tender. If this happens, shred the meat and serve as pulled beef bbq sandwich.
Beef brisket is a cut of meat that you want to cook all the way. The tough nature of the fibers requires it to be kept at a high enough temp to become tender, but also cooked. Tender steak meat is better medium rare. Tough roasting meat is better fully cooked, but not overcooked to dryness.
[ADVANCED TECHNIQUES] Separate the tip from the flat. If you look at the meat fat side down, near the pointed end you can see another layer of fat sandwiched between the meat. There are 2 muscle groups here with different grain. Cut through the fat layer and trim it. It will start to separate the 2 muscles as though you were unzipping it. You will inevitably cut into 1 muscle, but it's ok, just minimize it. The pointed end is rather small and rests upon the rectangle flat. The fat layer between the 2 muscles actually insulate the meat and prevent heat transfer. Trim the fat down to 1/4 inch.
Place a meat thermometer into the brisket. It should be kept at 140F to 155F as long as possible. Adjust oven by opening door to cool or turn off to keep meat at this temperature as long as you could. This requires monitoring, but at this temperature, all the tough fibers break down, but it's cold enough to prevent the meat fibers from shrinking and losing water retention properties.
Some references There's alot more info on meat science out there if you want to know optimal temperaure for meat tenderness and juiciness.