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Old 03-08-2009, 10:38 AM   #21
Andrew Trueblood
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Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 20
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The brisket ideas are all great and the pictures are phenomenal. That's some good looking meat.

I haven't spent much time with smokers... hope to add that to my bag of tricks someday, but I have really enjoyed braising as a technique to make both beef and sauce. Same concept (controlled, flavored heat), just different technique. I use a dutch oven for the most part and use my oven to provide a controlled, evenly applied temperature instead of cooking on the stovetop (less burned stuff on the bottom of the pot). Cooking liquid covers no more than 1/2 of the meat, controlling the heat applied to that submerged segment of the meat while simultaneously providing a high humidity environment that keeps the exposed meat from drying out as it browns. So you get the ease and tender texture of stewing while maintaining the flavor of roasting.

My quick and dirty Sunday dinner is to season a brisket or chuck roast, sear it off in the dutch oven with a little olive oil and remove to a plate. I deglaze the pot with chopped onion, add garlic when the onions soften, and then add a 28oz can of crushed tomatoes and two bay leaves. Meat goes back in the pot, no more than 1/2 submerged in cooking liquid, the top goes on the dutch oven, and the whole assembly goes into a 350 degree oven for 3 hours. Walk away. With an hour left to cook, I add three or four halved carrots and a couple stalks of rough chopped celery and flip the meat. At three hours, I'll check the meat. A 4# piece of meat should well into its plateau at this point and fork tender (Maybe I should use a remote thermometer to watch for the temp to go to 190? That's a neat idea.).

I take the meat out of its liquid and rest it on a covered plate to the side while I finish the sauce on the stovetop, seasoning with salt and pepper as needed, and allowing it to simmer down to the desired thickness. 3 1/2 hours total prep, on average, with only ~1/2 hour of direct attention.

To kick this up a bit, I'll fry coarse chopped bacon first and use the grease to sear the meat. I then add the bacon back to the mix with the tomatoes and will often add 1/4tsp of crushed red pepper to spice it up a bit. The bacon basically falls apart during the cooking process and just shows up as part of the sauce.
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