Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Not your grama's cookin'

Spoiler Alert!

I made a brisket this week.  I’ll tell you the hows and such on Friday, as usual, but the brisket is sort of integral to what I’m about to say next, so sorry if I’ve sort of ruined the whole “reveal” on the Food in Review post.  I promise, there will be more than JUST brisket.  Especially after what I’m about to confess.

So, I made my very first brisket!  I was so excited to be making it.  My grama is the queen extraordinaire of southern oven-baked briskets.  She’s always told me to look for one with lots of fat still on it and cook it low and slow.  

I’ve had this brisket in my freezer since the end of the farmer’s market, and it seemed a good week to work meals around a brisket.  I cooked it for hours at 225-250ish (my oven sucks at holding a steady temp), and my house smelled delicious.  

At dinner time, I started to “disassemble” my brisket.  Right off the bat, something was wrong.  My fat hadn’t really shrunk any.  Grama’s disintegrates upon a single touch.  My meat was hard to cut.  Her’s doesn’t require cutting.  It actually took SO LONG to cut it that the meat got cold and I had to reheat our dinner portions.  

Horrible.  Tough.   Dry.  Upon my first,  I dropped my silverware in my plate, threw my face in my hands, and had to start doing some seriously focused breathing to keep from bursting into tears.  Another mediocre, barely edible dinner.  WTF?!  Oh my grama would be horrified at this monstrosity of a brisket!  

We ate it.  The flavor was actually quite nice, just the texture and chew-ability was all wrong.  It wans’t what I’d expected at all.  I’ll be attempting to salvage it by turning it into chopped beef (with a backup plan in case the chopped beef idea is also a total failure).  

I tell you all this to say.....bad meal happen.  Even to people who love to cook and cook often.  Just like the pancake debacle two Sundays ago (though I blame a bad recipe on that one).  My only saving grace is that idea that perhaps this brisket was a bad cut, but I got it from a good source.  So, I’m just going to take the hit on this one and call it a day.  Sometimes I make things that don’t turn out.  That doesn’t mean I’m a bad cook and should never try again.  It probably also doesn’t mean that I need to fling flatware and cry, but hey....I’m only human.  

Anyone got a kitchen disaster they’d like to share? 


  1. Couple of questions about your brisket issue: Did you cook the brisket fat side up or down? How many hours did you cook it at 225-250 (I understand about the oven thing, mine isn't very good either)?

  2. My dad owned a BBQ restaurant, and chopped beef is definitely the way to save a bad brisket!! The way you cut it is integral as well... if it's cut the wrong way it can change the piece of meat in a baaaad way! I have kitchen disasters all the time, ESPECIALLY if I make a whole bunch of things over the course of a day. I'll leave out a crucial ingredient like baking powder and have inedible brick biscuits! I also tried to make bread in a bread maker once, did everything according to instructions, and the loaf baked up about 2 inches high and was dense and inedible! :)

  3. Fat on top is what my grama said to do. I cooked it for 3.5 hours. It was a 2 pounder. I'll be "chopping" it tonight.

  4. Fat on top is indeed the way to go (though there is debate on the issue that can reach religious proportions). My guess is that you needed to cook it even longer. 3.5 hours @ 225-250 is the low end for ribs, which are much smaller. It's been a while since I did a brisket (and of course now I really want to cook one) but I seem to recall that we did 3.5-4 hours @ 350 to get the fat to render, which is what helps the meat get tender. At 225ish, I would think you would need to cook it at least 6 hours to get it where you want it, and possibly as much as 8 hours.

  5. Okay, and here I thought I'd end up overcooking it! Is there such a thing with brisket?

    Thankfully, chopping it did render lovely, tender meat.

    So, is yours going on Saturday night or Sunday? Heh.