It was in New Mexico that I discovered the deliciousness of the brisket dinner. A fellow in the Carlsbad Sheriff’s Posse, which in recent years is a group of volunteers who do cowboy style fundraising dinners. He gave me his recipe and tips for making brisket in the oven, and I’ve been making it ever since. He, by the way, used an 8′ long smoker that he toted around on a trailer. His secret ingredient is the Dr. Pepper (oops, the secret slipped out), and his tip is using oven roasting bags.
We’re in Texas now and the availability of brisket abounds. It’s sold in every meat case and kept warm and ready-to-serve at most restaurants; some fast food or casual dining places offer brisket sandwiches. All those years living in the Pacific Northwest I’d never heard of brisket, now I can’t imagine not preparing a brisket dinner when company’s comin’ to town. It must be a southern thing!
CB’s Oven-Barbequed Brisket
1 8-pound brisket, fully-trimmed and “bendable”
McCormick Grill Mates 25% Less Sodium Montreal Steak seasoning
2 1-gallon covered plastic marinating containers (8.5x13x3″type)
1 large baking pan (bottom only of a large roaster works good)
1 19-ounce bottle Jack Daniel’s Original No. 7 Recipe Barbecue Sauce
1 8-ounce bottle regular Dr. Pepper (don’t use diet)
1 teaspoon each garlic powder, onion powder, celery seed, and paprika
1/2 teaspoon each ground black pepper, liquid smoke, hot pepper sauce
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1 large turkey size oven roasting bag
Choose a trimmed brisket that can easily be bent or folded in the middle to ensure against excess fat deep inside the meat. Most briskets today are pre-packaged in heavy plastic, which makes them easy to bend or fold. Remove brisket from package and cut into two large pieces. Sprinkle both sides of each piece generously with steak seasoning. Place seasoned briskets in the marinating containers; set aside to make marinade.
Whisk together in a medium-large bowl the barbeque sauce, Dr. Pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, celery seed, paprika, black pepper, liquid smoke, hot pepper sauce and mustard. Divide the marinade and pour over the briskets; turn to coat and cover tightly. Marinate in refrigerator for 3 to 6 days turning once every day.
Preheat oven to 250°F. Prepare the roasting bag as directed. Place both pieces of brisket side-by-side (don’t stack) in the bag; gently pour marinade over the briskets, cut slits into top of bag as directed and seal with provided twist-tie.
Using a baster, carefully reach through one of the holes in top of bag and baste the meat every 1 to 1 1/2 hours. About 4 hours into the roasting process begin testing the meat for doneness by pressing a small sharp knife through the bag slits and into the meat. It will take approximately 6 to7 hours to fully cook the brisket; when the small knife easily slices into the meat it is done.
When brisket has reached the desired doneness, remove the meat from its sauce and allow it to rest on a cutting board for 10 to 15 minutes. At this point, check the sauce to see how much fat has accumulated. Generally there will be too much fat although tastes vary.
Use whatever method that works well for you to remove excess fat but the sauce should be de-fatted and strained. What I do is: 1) strain the sauce through a mesh sieve into a gravy separator, 2) pour sauce into a saucepan and 3) place saucepan on a burner at medium heat without a lid to reduce it and to keep it warm. Sometimes sauce that’s reduced on the stove without a thickener will become quite salty tasting.
Instead of reducing the sauce on the stove, thicken it with 2 heaping teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in 1/4 cup cold water. Slowly add cornstarch mixture to hot sauce and stir over medium heat until thickened, repeat if needed to get sauce to desired texture.
Slice the brisket across the grain into 1/2″ thick pieces (an electric knife is the perfect tool for this); cover and return to the oven for a few minutes to re-heat, if needed. Serve with generous amounts of mashed potatoes, corn-on-the-cob, ranch beans, cornbread or coleslaw. Yield: 8 to 10 servings
Cook’s Note: Some folks like their brisket shredded but I prefer the brisket to be cut into distinct slices and served with sauce on the side. If I’m cooking for a crowd, I sometimes slice the entire brisket and put it back into the pan with the de-fatted, strained marinade. Then I re-heat it to serve dinner style, for barbeque brisket sandwiches or to make brisket dip style sandwiches.
Partial briskets can of course be cooked but I feel making a full-size brisket is a wiser use of my time. One brisket can be served in a variety of ways i.e., serve it at two meals, slice part of it for sandwiches and store some in the freezer to be served at a later date. However, to suit your family’s size, this recipe can easily be cut in half, which will yield 4 to 6 servings.
Grilling Brisket: Except for one step the directions above still apply. Remove the brisket from the marinade (which is reserved) and basically sear the brisket on the grill over a low flame. Grill brisket on both sides until the meat is brown, caramelized and sizzling. At this point, go back to the recipe directions and put the brisket into the roasting bag with the marinade. Roast it in the oven and continue with above instructions. Keep in mind your full cooking time might be reduced by approximately 1 hour.