I have an interesting history with beef brisket. First of all, I didn’t grow up on brisket so I wasn’t familiar with it. But to be fair, when I got married and started cooking regularly, I wasn’t that familiar with many cuts of meat because I had never cooked meat for myself much. I wasn’t a vegetarian, I was just on a budget, and cooking for one is not as easy as cooking for two or four.
So one day, 31 years ago to be exact, I remember asking my husband what kind of meat he liked. He told me, among others, that he enjoyed brisket. I had to look it up. I found one brisket recipe in all of my cookbooks, which probably already numbered around 100 back then, and it was a German brisket recipe. It was probably Sauerbraten.
So that’s what I decided to make for an evening when we had company. I was definitely not impressed with the brisket itself, even though I’d followed the recipe. And I’m pretty sure no one else enjoyed it, either. It was dry and stringy. And now that I’m thinking back on the experience, I’m positive my husband was actually thinking barbecued brisket when he suggested the cut of meat. But I wasn’t that familiar with barbeque back then, either!
Over the many years of living in Oklahoma and Texas, I have gained respect for brisket. It can, indeed, make a wonderful meal when cooked and smoked at low temperatures for many, many hours. And I do now smoke it about once a year in the summer.
As you know, I’ve been experimenting with my sous vide, and I realized that a good test of the sous vide process would be to use a brisket, instead of the already-tender cuts I’d been using. According to Stefan’s guidelines at the stefan gourmet blog, I was to cook the brisket for two days in 135 degree F water. So that’s what I did two days ago.
But to make things more festive, I decided to embrace St. Patrick’s Day – the day I would serve the brisket. So I also made a Guinness-based barbecue sauce for the brisket to serve on Sunday. So, here’s what I did:
Guinness Barbecue Sauce
1 – 14.9 ounce can Guinness
1 star anise
1 cup ketchup*
3 tablespoons brown mustard
2 tablespoons honey
1 – 2 teaspoons hot sauce**
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons butter
Pour the Guinness into a medium-sized pot, and simmer it over medium heat with the star anise until it is reduced by at least half.
Meanwhile, place all ingredients but the butter in a bowl.
When the Guinness has reduced, whisk in the other ingredients, and simmer until the sauce thickens a bit.
Then add the butter and whisk it in.
* I used my home-made ketchup, but you can use any kind. I was just anxious to use it up so I could make a new batch with less sugar!
** I used my new favorite habanero hot sauce called West Indian hot sauce. I used all 2 teaspoons, but we like things spicy, and I knew I’d still be able to taste the other ingredients. If you’re using straight Tabasco, I would test first.
Verdict: I like all the flavors in this barbecue sauce, although I can definitely detect the Guinness after taste. I’m not a fan of dark beer, but Guinness is my husband’s favorite beer, so I decided to make this for him. But it is surprisingly good. I would cut back and use half Guinness and half lighter beer if I make it again. But Guinness lovers should indeed love this sauce!!!
For the sous vide brisket, I preheated the sous vide to 135 degrees. Then I placed my three pound piece of brisket into a vacuum seal bag and sealed her up. I completely forgot about any seasoning, but that’s okay.
Just for fun, on Saint Patrick’s day, I cooked some rice called Bamboo rice, which I got from Marx Foods.
Unfortunately, it lost some of its green from the cooking process!
Then it was time for the brisket to come out of the sous vide. It looked like this:
I patted it completely dry, and trimmed off as much fat as I could from the one side.
Then I heated some oil in a grill pan over high heat. I seasoned the brisket generously with seasoning salt and garlic pepper.
Then I placed the brisket in the pan and browned the meat for about 2 minutes per side, and put on a clean cutting board.
Then I sliced it up. It wasn’t very pink. I asked my husband to test the brisket and when he did, he almost fainted. So I had to try it. Oh my, this was the most tender beef I’ve ever had, let alone the most tender brisket!!! I was so excited. This is what the sous vide is all about! I wish the photos could convey the tenderness.
So I heated the barbecue sauce, and placed the green rice on a serving plate, topped by the slices of brisket.
I didn’t serve anything else green except some good asparagus. I’m just not that creative! Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!