I’m a Texas girl; a first-generation native, born in Austin in the shadow of the Capitol. Hard to get more Texan than that.
Unless you’re a brisket.
Brisket, basically, = Texas. That gorgeous hunk of beef is the cornerstone of Texas BBQ. When I think of Lockhart, Mueller’s, Franklin, Pecan Lodge, my mouth literally starts watering. But unless you’ve got a big wood-fired smoker and A LOT of time to tend it, getting that same iconic flavor and texture isn’t very easy. Grassfed brisket is even more of a challenge because it tends to be leaner than commercially raised, feed lot beef. So how do we get the texture that screams TEXAS while keeping our NNB Brisket moist, tender and, oh, so tasty?
I’m going to share a secret with you. Braising.
What? HERESY, you say!
Shhhhh, don’t tell Mr. Mueller that a 24 hour layover in the fridge, soaking in a flavorful, tenderizing bath, will give you the perfect start to the perfect brisket right at home. And here’s a bonus: I’m including regular oven-braising directions as well as sous vide instructions – in fact, TWO sous vide methods!
So, let’s make some TEXAS! Here’s how:
• 4-5 lb NNB Brisket
• 2 C strong beef bone broth
• 1 C Braggs Aminos (or soy sauce)
• ¼ C fresh lemon juice (about 1 large)
• 4-5 cloves garlic, crushed & roughly chopped
• 1 T smoky meat marinade of choice – we love Moore’s Original Marinade
Oven Braising Method
Mix the marinade ingredients together and poor into a deep roasting pan. Add the whole brisket to the pan with the fat side up and coat completely with marinade. Seal the pan tightly with foil and refrigerate 24-36 hours. Heat oven to 275˚F. Place that gorgeous piece of NNB, still covered and swimming in luscious braising marinade, in the oven and cook about 45-50 minutes per pound of brisket. A 5 lb brisket will take about 4 ½ hours. Allow to cool loosely covered until you can handle it, then either slice or shred. Serve with the cooking juices or your favorite BBQ sauce. Makes fabulous brisket tacos, too!
Sous Vide Methods
Mix the marinade ingredients. Divide in half into 2 ½ gallon freezer grade zip top bags, rolling zipper top to the outside carefully to avoid getting anything on it since you’ll need to seal them completely airtight. Lay the brisket on a cutting surface and cut crosswise into 2 equal-in-mass pieces. One end will be thicker, so make that “half” a little smaller than the other – that way they’ll both cook in about the same amount of time in your sous vide water bath. Place 1 half in each bag, press out as much air as possible and seal tightly. Lay both bags in a baking pan big enough to keep them flat. You can stack one on top of the other. Make sure the zip closures are flipped up to keep pressure off of the seal while they hang out in the fridge about 24 hours.
When you’re ready to cook, get your sous vide water bath set up, add your heating element and allow it to come to temperature before adding the 2 bags, marinade and all.
• For shredding texture: water temp is 155˚F, cook for 24 – 36 hours
• For slicing texture: water temp is 135˚F, cook for 36 – 72 hours
Add the bags of meat slowly and let any air bubbles escape as you slightly open the seal, making sure to not let any liquid get on the zip closures, then close again tightly just before it goes underwater.* The key is to let it cook long enough to break down the tough muscle fibers, but not so long that it gets soft. I take mine out at the low hour mark, open carefully and see if a sharp knife will penetrate it easily. If not, I repeat the immersion steps and allow it to continue to cook another 6 hours, then test again. The slicing texture should allow the knife to go in easily, without the meat falling apart. If you’re going for the easy to shred texture, that knife will dive right in when it reaches that point.
Drain the marinade into a saucepan and bring it to a boil for 5 minutes, then simmer to reduce another 15-20 minutes IF you want to serve it aus jus style or to add it back into shredded brisket for reheating. Sealed in its zip top bag, cool your brisket down faster by using a quick ice bath, or slower in the fridge. Just before serving, heat 1 T coconut oil in a cast iron skillet or Dutch oven and sear the outside of your brisket until a dark, but not burnt crust begins to appear. Slice or shred as you wish and relish this dreamy taste of Texas just as your taste buds dictate!
*Here’s a great hint my always-on-top-of-the-kitchen-buzz Son-in-Law taught me: sit your sous vide vessel up on either a folded towel or several hot pads, then cover it with a big bath towel to keep the heat in and to protect your countertop.