Mr. P's Magic Beef Brisket
Every good husband should have a repertoire of amazing, manly dishes he can whip up for his doting wife when she’s had a bad day, feeling sick, or just unmotivated to cook. My husband, Rob (aka Mr. President, Honeybee, Mr. P, Robbie P, or RP) has such a repertoire, and it includes a superstar beef brisket that’s so tender, we call it meat pudding. OK, maybe that doesn’t sound great, but the brisket is perfect. I really swoon when he puts on the Williams-Sonoma apron and starts browning meat.
I think brisket is similar to the pot roasts my Mom used to make back in the day, meat cooked low and slow with carrots, onions, and celery. When it’s cooking, your whole house will smell of it. Brisket is comfort food, and it’s a perfect early Sunday dinner. Tote leftovers to the office the next day for lunch and make your co-workers green with envy. Especially when you tell them your man-thing made dinner while you sat, relaxed and half-drunk on red wine. Did I mention you should also use the leftovers with french rolls to make sandwiches?
For this post, I have vowed to remove my rose-colored glasses and believe that others, too, can reproduce this succulent dish. Mr. P can’t possibly be the only one who can make a mean brisket!
Let’s pick his brain, shall we?
BP: I never had brisket before we got married. Is brisket a traditional Jewish food, or is it just more popular in this part of the country?
RP: I dunno, I think it’s a Jewish thing that other people eat too. Like matzo ball soup is Jewish, but other people eat it.
BP: So, not like gefilte fish, which is Jewish but no one that’s not Jewish ever eats it.
BP: How and why did you learn to make brisket?
RP: Once, a long time ago, I had really good brisket somewhere, so I knew I liked it. Then, I had a lot of brisket that just wasn’t right. It was bad, like dry and it didn’t taste good. I said, “I can make this myself”, and I went online to find a recipe that seemed good. The recipe I use now is from Tyler Florence, but I change it up a little.
BP: I’m sure this is all very complicated with a lot of “moving parts”. But, for the novice, if you could pick the single, most important tip for getting a perfect brisket result, what would it be?
RP: It’s hard to pick one thing. Maybe a little unconventional but I think it’s good to cut up the brisket before you cook it. If it’s all one big thing, then only the outside edges of it will soak up the goodness in the pan. When you cut it up, you get more surface area of meat exposed to the juices. I also trim the fat, that’s why I start with like 41/2 pounds, because I know that it will be much less after I cut off the fat. I’m sure you’re not “supposed” to trim the fat, everyone says it adds all kinds of flavor. But, this is my brisket, not their brisket, and I don’t like biting into a big piece of fat.
BP: Great! Let’s get started! What can I do to help?
RP: I’m going to turn on some music. You need good music to cook and it can be anything you like. Will you grab me a beer and keep me company?
For this particular cooking session, Rob chose Billy Bragg and Wilco’s Mermaid Avenue, Volume I. When things started to come together, he switched to The Rolling Stones.
Once you get the hang of it, you can play around and try all sorts of variations. Meat cooked this way is hard to mess up, and it will work with many flavor combinations. For example, at our wedding, we served a Moroccan braised brisket cooked with all sorts of exotic spices and dried currants. This recipe uses red wine, but try beer instead!
Mr. P's Magic Beef Brisket
Adapted from Tyler Florence
Ingredients (Serves 8):
4 large garlic cloves, peeled
Leaves stripped from 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 beef brisket, between 4 and 5 pounds, preferrably grass-fed
Coarsely ground black pepper
4 large carrots, scrubbed and cut into large chunks
3 celery stalks, trimmed and cut into large chunks