Now that you’re armed with all the knowledge of an artisan butcher and seasoned chef from our Farmer Girl Cooks Roasting Series, it’s time to dive into some specifics cuts. First up: the mouth-watering, versatile grass fed beef brisket!
We embrace the lean, adaptable slab of brisket as a spring and summertime favorite, but look to it year-round to inexpensively feed a crowd. You can go several ways with brisket–slow-cooked pot roast-style with root vegetables, smoked and slathered with barbecue sauce (burnt ends please!), blanketed in lemon slices and simply roasted. You really can’t go wrong with this versatile cut, but we’re here to make sure things go very right.
Breakin’ Down the Brisket
Brisket is cut from the breast or pectoral of beef. Without collar bones, these muscles support about 60% of the steer’s body weight while standing. This produces a significant amount of connective tissue, rather than fat, which is more flavorful. Grass Fed Beef Brisket is typically sold in two portions, called the flat and point cuts.
- The flat cut is the larger of the two portions and significantly leaner.
- The point cut tapers to a point (thus earning its name) and has additional fat marbling.
Artisan butchers know to leave the fat cap on brisket cuts, because this thick covering of fat helps baste the meat as it cooks. Don’t be scared of the fat – it will flavor the meat as it roasts and protect it from drying out during the long cooking time. You can trim the fat after cooking.
Cooked to Perfection
All the connective tissue would normally make this an almost inedible cut of meat if you were to cook it like a steak, but all you have to do is pull out your handy, dandy Farmer Girl Roasting Guide to tell you that the Tough as Nails and Lean brisket should follow the braising technique of the Pot Roast Braise, aka, the Slow-Cooker Method.
This allows all the collagen fibers in the brisket to break down slowly, lubricating all the muscle fibers and making the whole cut remarkably tender and delicious. Preparation: Sear your roast over a medium-high or high heat until the exterior is browned. Place your roast in a Dutch oven, a pan with a lid or a slow cooker with a little liquid to prevent it from drying out, and cook low and slow.
- Liquid: Yes. Add a little broth, wine, or beer until 1/3-1/2 of the entire roast is submerged.
- Temperature: Low, 200º – 300ºF.
- Finish: Super Well Done, with an internal temperature of 170º or hotter. If it’s not fork-tender or falling off the bone, then keep on cookin’. You really can’t overcook a braised roast, plan on 6 – 8 hours, depending on roast size.
- Carve: Shred with two forks, or gently slice against the grain.
Let’s Do This
Every country, every culture, every family seems to have a brisket recipe. But while there are thousands of recipes, there are essentially only three cooking techniques: braise it, barbecue it, or brine it so it becomes corned beef. Jewish tradition typically braises it, Irish prepares it as corned beef, it’s common Vietnamese pho soup and it is similar to barbacoa in Mexico. We have recently fallen in love with a recipe from Deborah Krasner’s Good Meat cookbook. We made a few small variations from the original, but encourage you to give it a try.
Grass Fed Beef Brisket Recipe with Red Wine, Prunes and Spices
Source: Good Meat:The Complete Guide to Sourcing & Cooking Sustainable Meat, Deborah Krasner
Grass Fed Beef Brisket Recipe
Serving Size: 5 to 7 servings
Prep Time: 20 min.
Cook Time: 4 to 5 hours
- 4 to 5 pound Farmer Girl Grass Fed Brisket (view in store)
For the rub:
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon potent ground red pepper or hot (picante) pimentón de la Vera (smoked Spanish paprika) (I used generic ground red pepper)
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
For the brisket:
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup red wine (I used Merlot)
- 3 onions, sliced (recipe called for
- 6 onions, but only half would fit in my Dutch oven, along with the meat and other ingredients)
- 1 cup chicken, turkey, or beef stock (I used beef stock)
- 4 carrots, thickly sliced
- 1 (14.5 – ounce) can whole or diced tomatoes
- 1 whole head garlic, cut in half, outer papery cover removed
- ½ pound dried apricots (I used apricots instead of prunes, as she calls for in the recipe–this ingredient adds needed sweetness to counter the spicy rub)
- 6 sprigs fresh thyme
For the garnish:
- Minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1.) Blot the meat dry and blend together the salt, sugar, cumin, ground black and red pepper, and paprika and rub the mixture over the dried meat.
2.) Let the brisket rest on a rack to bring it to room temperature, about 1 hour. (I applied the rub the day before and refrigerated the meat, then allowed it to return to room temperature for about an hour.)
3.) Heat the oven to 275 degrees, then heat a large Dutch oven and add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. When the oil has thinned and become fragrant, brown the meat well on both sides, fat side first, 7 to 10 minutes per side. It is ready to turn when it stops sticking to the pot.
4.) Transfer the browned meat to a deep platter and deglaze the pot with the red wine, scraping up any browned bits. Cook the wine down by half and pour it over the meat on the platter–this take several minutes.
5.) Wipe out the pot, add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, and sweat the onions until they are soft, translucent, and just beginning to brown.
6.) Deglaze the pot with a 1/2 cup of the stock, scraping with a wooden spatula. Return the meat and reduced wine to the pot, along with the remaining ½ cup stock, carrots, tomatoes, garlic, prunes, and thyme. Cover the pot and set it in the oven for 3 to 4 hours, turning the meat every half hour or so.The meat is done when it is meltingly soft and you feel no resistance if you pierce it with a skewer.
7.) Remove the meat to a platter, and cook down the sauce if necessary. Cut the meat against the grain into thin slices. Top the slices with the sauce and garnish with a shower of parsley. Enjoy!
(1) What is Brisket? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brisket
(2) Krasner, Deborah, Good Meat: The Complete Guide to Sourcing and Cooking Sustainable Meat, 2010