May 282014

That’s right – May 28th is National Brisket Day. It is also National Hamburger Day, which is an interesting coincidence since the World’s Best Burger Blend just happens to contain brisket.

Funny how that works.

Sliced Smoked BrisketWhen it comes to smoking beef, brisket has no equal. Period. But you don’t need a smoker to get some serious flavour and value out of the cut. A quick trip to the ol’ True North Barbeque archives will get you started with the simplest of equipment and ingredients. A couple of links:

If you have nothing but an oven (and can get your hands on a big-ass roasting pan) try the “Emergency Brisket” – you still get the big beef flavour and all the melt-in-your-mouth tenderness of a traditionally smoked brisket in a fraction of the time. Even if you do have a smoker, this is a great technique to have in your repertoire when time is tight or your cookout plans end up facing last minute changes.

Got a grill, along with the aforementioned oven and big-ass roasting pan? Set yourself up for a big hit of rural Mexican flavour with “Mucho Machaca Beef”. Coated with a super simple three-ingredient rub then charred and then braised, this is a traditional recipe that makes the best damn tacos you will ever have, and lets you use a partial brisket if you don’t have the space or the inclination to use a full cut.

Both make for easy-to-freeze leftovers and have the added bonus of stretching your food budget a long way. Take an afternoon to make one of these and then enjoy quick meals out of the freezer for the next couple of months. Or just invite the neighbourhood over and make a lot of people happy. Enjoy.

Feb 032012

One of the more interesting things about brisket is the “Costco effect” – the bigger your go, the better the price. You see partial points in the grocery store, things that look about the size of a badass steak, but you pay literally twice as much per kilogram for that as you do when you but the whole shebang. This is what we call good value.

The downside, of course, is the ol’ “what the hell do I do with all this meat” problem. Generally you want to cook brisket whole to take advantage of the natural flavoring that comes out of the connective tissue, but unless you happen to have 38 of your closest friends and neighbours over for dinner, it can be a little overwhelming. So how about something to do with half of a brisket? You can slice a full slab in half, cook half now and either freeze the second half for a future project or grind it up for the World’s Best Burger Blend.

So here we go. A simplified take on a very traditional Mexican beef preparation called machaca. Big rich beefy goodness tempered with cinnamon and coffee and ancho chilies. This version takes minimal effort, packs huge flavour, and makes the best damn tacos on the planet. If you can find the time, make this either the morning of your meal or the day before so you can let the meat cool in the liquid before you shred and serve it. Now keep reading and get ready to make some magic.

Continue reading »

Jul 182011

A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away …

Er, wait. Wrong script.

A not-so-long time ago, in the fine city of Hamilton, there was a take-out and delivery place called “Hamilton Barbeque”. Two things made the place memorable: The fleet of red delivery cars – each with a flashing light inside a big plastic chicken on the roof – and the quality of the barbeque bird. It was stupidly good.

The place is gone now, and it’s tragic to think that there is a whole generation of Hamilton kids out there who will never point and yell “Flashing Chicken!” at the top of their lungs when one of the cars go by. It’s even more tragic to live in a city where people now think that Swiss Chalet is actually decent food. Sadly, there is nothing I can do about the cars. But I can do my bit to fill the gaping void when it comes to good barbeque chicken.

So – in honour of the late and much-lamented Hamilton Barbeque, I offer to you “Flashing Chicken”. There are no big secrets here, just a simple brine and a hotter-than-you-would-think turn in the smoker. And if you don’t have a real barbeque pit you can still play along, either with a grill or even in your oven.

Ready? Chicken awaits …

Continue reading »

Apr 142011

My friend Shawn has some issues with food. If something has flavour or texture or any sort of culinary interest at all, he won’t touch it. No way, no how. Slabs of rubber and piles of sawdust would be his ideal menu. So these meatballs are like kryptonite to him – packed with flavour and perfect tender texture, they would have him cowering in the corner with his cape over his head.

If he had a cape.

For everyone else – even people without capes – these meatballs were created to be the filling of a nice meatball sandwich or sub. You can obviously use them however you like, but you are cheating yourself if you don’t try these in a sandwich at least once. Fresh bread, fontina cheese, and maybe a few grilled peppers on top. Trust me.

And finally, yes, I know that this one was a long time coming. I promised the final recipe months ago, but I kept dicking with it, assuming that there must be some way to improve on the original. After a number of variants, however, I have always gone back to the “beta test” version so I present it to you here in all of its original glory and with profuse apologies for keeping you waiting. Enjoy.

Continue reading »

Apr 222010

This is a basic coated chicken that is a perfect starting point for your adventures and experimentation in dipping. It’s easy to make, is wickedly versatile, and can be cooked in pretty much anything that offers an option for indirect heat. You can use a good ol’ Weber kettle, your oven (yes, I said oven), or something that is built just for this sort of task like a Big Green Egg. You want to use a clean fire here – you are roasting, not smoking. A plain charcoal fire would be your best bet, you only want to use a wood fire if you really know how to control the smoke and (in this case) keep it to a minimum.

If you are unsure, then do your first batch in the oven – this works really well in the oven. Everyone can play on this one, and you will be glad you did. Besides the aforementioned dipping, this chicken is a great thing to have in your back pocket as a go-to technique for any time you need a big mound of crispy tasty crunchy juicy bird.

Total prep time is about 10 minutes, cooking time is just short of an hour. Ready? Let’s go.

Continue reading »

Jan 112010

In previous posts I have made passing mention of – and will expand later this week upon – the fact that smoking brisket isn’t hard, tricky, or any great arcane mystery. All you really need is the right cut of meat and some patience. A lot of patience, since cooking a brisket the traditional way can take anywhere from 12 to 20 hours. Generally, this is not an issue – when you cook brisket you plan ahead, you clear your day, and you turn the cooking (and the subsequent eating of the meat) an event.

However, there will eventually come a time when you either need or want a nicely-cooked brisket but you don’t have the time or the equipment to do it in the time-honoured fashion. What then?

Obviously, I have an answer, or I wouldn’t be writing this. The answer is “Emergency Brisket” and you can do it in as little as 6 hours total time, with a 4 hour cook. However, there are two items you need to have to make this work:

A probe-style thermometer that you can insert into the meat and leave in during the cook so you know the exact point to pull the meat out of your oven

A roasting pan that is deep enough to cover with foil and not have the brisket touching the foil

It would also be helpful to have a second roasting pan that has shallow sides, but it is not necessary.

So – if you have your equipment, follow the jump to the main recipe and lets make some beefy goodness! And be sure to read through the whole thing first to make sure you have the tools you need and understand when to change pans and when to use the rack and when to take it out. Ready? Let’s cook!

Continue reading »

Jul 062009

Dsc 0020-3
FAUX-Q ALERT! This is a dish that you can – if you don’t have access to a smoker or barbeque pit – quite happily make in your oven and get a result that won’t have the same taste as smoked beef ribs, but will have an excellent flavour profile and be insanely tender and juicy. Oven instructions will be included for those of you that want to give this a try.

Beef ribs are one of the great underrated cuts of meat. They have ridiculous amounts of flavour, are fun to eat, and make a real splash when you plunk a big ol’ platter of them on the table. They are also something most people don’t buy, either because they haven’t a clue what do do with them or because their supermarket doesn’t have any worth buying. But there is no great mystery here, the same principles of any great barbeque hold true: Rub the meat, cook it with indirect heat from a wood fire, and do it low and slow. You will get amazing results and giant mouthfuls of beef flavour that you just aren’t going to get any other way – and the smell is amazing. The total cook time here is a very reasonable 3 hours.

Continue reading »