Ah, the Brisket. Excellent in all seasons, and far more versatile than the standard Sliced/Chopped Sandwiches that are typically synonymous with this delicious cut of beef. There several ways and weights to a Brisket. Depending on your time, you may want to throw a 4-5 pounder in the oven for 6 hours, or you may want to bust out the smoker and settle-in to make a day of it! That is exactly what TJ and I did last Saturday. We got up early and smoked a 12 lb. Brisket for 16 hours! Delightful!
Nothing is better than the sun on your face, a slight breeze in your hair, and the smell of the Pit Boss in the air! Summer is upon us, y'all!
One of the greatest things I have seen during this unprecedented time, is the resurgence of the home-cook. While most all of us cook - we are humans that rely on sustenance after all - I have noticed that I am seeing a lot more adventurous meals being made, breads being baked, and the faces and characters of kids' plates being a lot more elaborate. And you know what that confirms? Time is Love. We have gotten so much time back, and it is opening our hearts, and our kitchens, and that makes me incredibly happy to see. Especially as someone who views cooking as a form of therapy, I am elated to see that others are joining in on the treatment. It works! I pray we don't go back to the way it was, the way we were. We were so broken.
Back to the Brisket!
The Preparation. Whether you have chosen the oven route or the smoker route, you will essentially start the same way: The Rub. While I won't be giving out all of TJ's secret ingredients, I will suggest starting with salting your meat, on all sides, letting that soak - whether that is when you get your cut home from the butcher and re-wrap (tightly!) for a day or two, or when you open your store-bought cut - while you combine your dry rub, and then once that is complete - covering your Brisket in mustard to get the rub to stick best. Your dry rub is to your palate's preference and I would highly recommend this option, though there are a copious amount of dry rubs on the market and can be easily purchased at your local grocery store.
Once you have cooked your Brisket, the fun begins; incorporating it into various recipes that you likely already eat and love, using that meat to save time, money, and to expand your Brisket repertoire!
If you are like me, a taco is a love letter to your tummy. Either by hand or utilizing your food processor (just a few pulses!), chop your Brisket, and use in place of your typical chicken or steak. I paired this with a Watermelon Pico de Gallo, which is my new go-to Summer condiment, and is exactly as it sounds: Add diced watermelon to your Pico recipe! You're welcome!
Take the same chopped Brisket, grab a 9x13 pan, and load up your favorite tortilla chips with all the beans, brisket, pico, and cheese! Top with sour cream & gauc! Dig in!
The thing about a Brisket, is that its flavorful fat melds together so well with a cheese and a little heat, and that is why the Taco & Nacho is at the top of the list!
Another favorite around here, and one that you probably have seen on the BBQ menu, but would completely remiss to leave out here: The Loaded Baked Potato. I do Potato, Butter, Ranch, Brisket, BBQ Sauce. In that order. DE-licious!
A Summer staple in my kitchen is Lemon Basil Pasta. So light, so flavorful, so easy, so delicious!
Typically made with either Angel Hair or Spaghetti Squash, this dish is best with a dainty noodle.
Prepare your pasta of choice, zest and juice two small lemons, or one large lemon, coarsely chop a small bunch of basil (this really depends upon your love level of this herb), and mix in with your pasta. Chill in fridge.
Heat up some Brisket, and plate it. Cover with the pasta, and grate with Parmesan.
We are now coming to end of our week-long journey with the Brisket, and my final way to use this meat to its full extent: Pulverized with Pepperoncinis and Roasted Red Peppers.
I do this in my Ninja Food Processor, just takes four/five pulses to get you to perfection! I don't even top this with anything, because these three simple flavors mixed together is such a glorious circus for your palate, that it is just unnecessary to add anything else.
On another note - Brisket is one of the best burger patty cuts, this requires a request of grinding raw Brisket into patties at your local butcher, and speaking of - getting on a first name basis with your local meat market is a relationship where both parties are constantly in a beautiful dance of delicious give and take, and it is definitely one to grow and flourish. Your stomach will thank you.
I hope this has been enlightening, and has perhaps shown that the Brisket is not just the Summer BBQ/Easter/Christmas dish - not that sliced and served on a bed of potato salad isn't divine and doesn't have its place, because it absolutely does - but that it can be enjoyed 365 days a year, in a plethora of tasty ways! Get creative! That is what I do - for the most part I make-up 87% of the savory dishes that are eaten in our household, and it is literally one of my favorite things to gather a bunch of ingredients and create something not only edible, but actually delectable!
November 1st typically signals the planning of the Thanksgiving Menu, but for me, it prompts the arrangement of my Thanksgiving Tablescape. What is my theme? What tablecloth, chargers, and Autumnal baubles will I be using this year? What feelings am I hoping to invoke for future memories? And then I set out to plan my menu. Just as a shoe can spur an entire outfit, a decorative plate can spur an entire feast.
First things first: How many guests are you hosting? What is your budget? Will your vison work for the size of your table? As nothing will make you sadder than realizing the three-tiered serving platter you purchased to be your table’s focal point is too tall and will cause a conversational obstruction (trust me on this one; but it does look lovely on the serving table!). Once this first planning stage is complete, you are ready to begin planning your décor!
Start by getting inspired! Whether you are a Pinterest or a Magazine browser, inspiration is all around us! But, never be a copy-cat, always put your personal spin on everything you do! Whether it be by using a favorite fabric as your tablecloth or table runner, or by highlighting a favorite family heirloom; make your table a reflection of your personal style! And don’t forget to add a few special conversational pieces! This can be done with unique salt and pepper shakers or eye-catching napkins!
Décor and Budget, do not always go together like a Horse and Carriage, but you can always improvise with what you have on hand! Floral arrangements, candles, pumpkins, and items found in nature, can all be used to create as elaborate or as simple of a centerpiece as you desire! To stay on budget, shop thrift and antique stores, and you will be amazed at what you can find for a great bargain at Ross or the numerous dollar stores in town! In fact, the water goblets I use every year were a Dollar Tree find!
Once you have accumulated your treasures, and ornamented your table to your liking, be certain that you have enough space around your centerpieces, stemware, etc. for everyone to feel comfortable during the meal. You would hate for one of your pine cones to end up in the gravy boat! And don’t forget to have conveniently placed salt and pepper shakers, extra napkins, and butter on the table. I like to place these items on various-sized cake plates or elevated platers, so they are easily accessible for my guests, while adding height and texture to my table!
Last, but not least, nothing is more synonymous with ambiance than candles. You can use candles of varying sizes, from Taper to Votive, to add drama - but I would suggest using non-scented, as you don’t want to over-power your guests, or take away from the delicious aromas from your feast!
Whether you are hosting a formal dinner, or a casual lunch, I hope that you have found this to be helpful, and that you and yours have a wonderful, memorable, and delicious Thanksgiving full of love, laughter, and of course: ambiance!