Its a battle to the ends of the world, a fight worth winning, a duel of one man's BBQ versus another man's BBQ spices, an unlikely combat in which there are no points for second place (and if anyone can pick that quote, you are my kindred spirit).
Dramatic enough for you? I think it's entirely appropriate and if you don't agree, you must not have had the joy of being able to compare and contrast these two incredible beasts.
Let me walk you through my Brisket journey, it's a messy walk, but a good one!
The first time we went to New York was December last year. We went and spent Christmas with framily (friends but more like family) in Charlotte NC and then had a week in Brooklyn. We explored parts of Manhattan that are on every tourist guide (little did we know we would be back 8 months later to do it properly over 5 weeks!) and because we had a wee 6 month old and it was utterly freezing, we also explored the best of Williamsburg too. Our friends are definitely far more hip and happening than we are, so we were only too happy to let them show us their favourite "off the map" places in their hood.
And a highlight of the best of Williamsburg would have to be BrisketTown: Delaney Barbecue.
An unassuming 35-seats-diner serving Brisket and ribs. This was my very first experience of this Southern meal and will always be the benchmark that every Brisket is measured against, until the end of time.
There are no plates. Plastic forks only. And a choice of a few sides each day. We didn't realise it at the time, but they had only been open for a month, so we were riding the trend-setting train, back when it was BYO and relatively unheard of. Yes, we are cool (read: The Smiths are cool and we are just lucky to be taken along for the ride). They stay open until they sell out (sometimes in an hour and a half), and something utterly neat is that you can check online before coming to see how much Brisket is left, and pre-order, to ensure you won't miss out! An entire website set up for this simple purpose! Big fan! http://istheremeatleft.com
And what about the Brisket?? It was incredible (the photo is not sorry!). The reason you don't need silverware is because it just falls apart, right off the plastic fork! It was crunchy on the outside and oh my gosh so tender its ridiculous. It was smokey and unlike anything I had ever tried before.
Incidentally, I peeked online at their website and TODAY is their 1st Birthday!!!
Happy Birthday Delaney Barbecue & congrats on your first of many I suspect!
Okay, so with my introduction to Brisket being somewhat of an awesome experience, it is no doubt that I've been keen to have it again. Thinking that I needed a big barbecue/smoker/backyard I hesitated. Until.... Gordon Ramsay of course. We were watching his Ultimate Home Cooking show and saw his BBQ Brisket segment and looked at each other and just nodded. Done.
Off to the butcher to pick up some brisket. Oh. That's right, this is the UK, you'll have to order it in! Boo. Patience has never been my strongest suit, but alas, wait a week I did.
We knew it would be the perfect meal to serve my brother while he was here, so I watched and re-watched the episode to try and get a feel for the recipe (not all the recipes are available online, somewhat frustratingly). This recipe below is what I did, as I didn't have a few of the ingredients Gordon used available, so it is a collaboration recipe! Now a traditional Brisket is just slow cooked and smoked, with only salt and pepper to season the meat. As we don't have a bbq or smoker, we have to rub the bbq into the meat, and then slowly oven bake it. Don't worry, it still tastes out of this world!!
Ingredients (serves 6, should not serve 3)
1 large onion
BBQ rub - see photo below for my mix. Gordon used celery seeds and mustard powder, I didn't have these so made up my own mix!
1T tomato paste/puree
4 bay leaves (mine were dried but still did the same as fresh ones)
1 bottle of beer (I used Estrella Damm Daura GF Lager)
Stock - beef or chicken, about 4-6 cups
1. Combine all the spices together and rub all over the meat. Warning - the cayenne pepper will make you cough like a fool. If your husband and brother are teasing you, invite them into the kitchen and enjoy watching them eat their words while they cough out the window!
2. Seal the brisket in a hot pan for a few minutes until it has a slight brown finish.
3. Remove from the pan and add the onions and tomato paste and stir well to coat the onions
4. Place the meat back on top of the onions and pour in one bottle of beer (saving a swig or two for the chef!)
5. Add beef stock until the meat is almost covered. And for good measure, give the spices a little extra rub in, why not! But do not lick your fingers or touch your face!!
About half way through cooking I separated out my meat because the pot wasn't big enough and it wasn't allowing me to add enough of the stock.
6. My Brisket cooked for 4.5 hours on a low heat, the first 3 hours with the lid on, and the last 1.5 hours with it off.
7. Make sides as you see fit (I will do a separate post about the gratin, this post is getting a wee bit lengthy as is) while you let your brisket rest for ten minutes.
8. Eat the heck out of it!
So my brother made promises that I wasn't to make a dessert, he'd just have two dinners. Which he did. I think he ate about a kilo of Brisket. And got indigestion and meat sweats! Haha but said he'd do it all again, it was too good to stop.
This meat was tender, delicious, but also a bit spicy. The spices obviously give it a different flavour to traditional Brisket, but without the proper means to cook it in, it makes sense to have to add the barbecue flavours in yourself.
A definite to-repeat meal, but start putting it on about 5 hours before you want to eat.
So in the duel worth winning, I think i'm going to need a second tasting of each to clearly pick a winner, it's just too close to call this time. If you live in New York, do yourself a favour and head to BrisketTown. And for the rest of us, give this recipe a whirl, you'll love it!!!
And then, the next day, you can make a kick-ass pizza with the small amount of leftovers! Just add some red onion, tomatoes, cheese, sour cream and coriander and you're done!
So, how do you like/make your Brisket? Are you Texan and think it is completely unheard of and miraculous to get to the age of 28 having never tried Brisket?? I concur!
Have a great weekend!