Easter Brisket Saga

How can one lowly Brisket turn into a whole saga?  Well gather round, because I have a tale of how much misery and woe a single slab of beef can cause.  Ok, it wasn’t that bad, but there was a lot of water all over the kitchen floor.

This story starts off innocently enough.  A boy and his brisket.  15 pounds of beefy goodness.  I had read about cooking a brisket via sous vide, then smoking it.  You get the tenderness of sous vide, with natural smoke flavor added.  Smoking briskets is hard, they are easy to dry out in the thinner flat area.  This should be easy!

I gave it a nice trim, set the fat cap to roughly the right thickness and then sprinkled generously with salt and pepper.  It is like putting on a fancy tuxedo, only for food.

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Plan A

Next I cut it up, stuffed it in big ziplocks and tried to fit everything in my usual food grade polycarbonate container.  Oooohhh  might not be big enough.  The point is sticking up inches out of the tub.

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Plan B

No big deal, I have one of those fancy modern soft coolers.  People do sous vide in coolers right?

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It looks all snug and warm in its soft jacket.  Zip everything up and come back 24 hours later!

Wait, what is that dripping sound?  Why is the cooler leaking?

It turns out the cooler is only rated for 120F, not 155.  So the liner glue let go and started leaking everywhere.  I pulled out my hard plastic cooler and dumped everything in.

Plan C

Plastic coolers are definitely ok to work with.

Why is there water everywhere?  Oh great, the drain plug was out.  At this point I was running around like a mad man trying to sop up the gallons of hot water.  No pictures exist.

This container will work, but it is huge.  It needs at least 5 gallons to get everything covered right, and there is no good way for the sous vide cooker to live in there.  Normally they cut a hole in the lid so the electronics can be outside.  This will hold for now, but I need a…

Plan D

Run off to the supermarket and come back with a styrofoam container.  Big enough for a brisket, but not a monster like my big cooler.  It can definitely handle the high temp (you put boiling hot coffee in the stuff after all!).  I modified the lid on the band saw and we were back in business.

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A few hours later I walked by and water was all over the floor.  Apparently the foam is porous enough to let a little bit of water weep through.

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Plan D-2

Re-enter the plastic tub I tried using from the beginning.  It is only weeping a cup every hour or two.  I can keep it full for the time needed, and this tub should keep the floor dry.

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The Next Day

I made it through the night without spilling any more water on the floor.  The brisket actually turned out looking pretty.  Dark, soft, and ready for the smoker.  After another application of the tuxedo treatment that is.

Because the beef is already completely cooked there is no need to smoke all day.  Only a few hours to impart some nice flavor.  I went for about 3.5 hours on a low smoke.

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They are nowhere near as dark as they would be had they been smoked all the way through.  Still, they have been nice dinners for the week.  Reasonably moist, and pretty tender.  The fat is rendered perfectly.  That kind of melt in your mouth velvet feeling when you eat some of it.  I need a new container scheme if I want to do this again.

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