A-tasket, a-tisket, I love beef brisket!
As someone who was vegetarian for 15 years, my meat-cooking experience has been somewhat limited – in fact it has largely been confined to anything you can open and fling from its tray directly into a pan without actually having to touch it. It’s a sorry admission from the granddaughter of a butcher.
However, since my fall from the veggie wagon (at a barbeque where I consumed, in quick succession, a lamb chop, a piece of steak and some duck) I have slowly been adding meat dishes to my repertoire. Very slowly …eating it is one thing but preparing and cooking it is quite another and it’s taken me a while to be able to anoint a chicken with butter and shove half a lemon where half a lemon didn’t really ought to be shoved, without having to breathe into a paper bag and fight the urge to fling the bird across the kitchen and run out screaming. My poor Grandad …
Still, slow and steady wins the race and I definitely felt like I’d won a prize after my first attempt at cooking beef brisket. What a revelation. A beautiful and economical cut of meat, brisket is perfect for slow-cooking, emerging from the oven after several hours at a low heat, full of flavour and melting in the mouth. And the effort to reward ratio is stacked nicely at the reward end of things – after rubbing the meat with oil and stabbing it with garlic cloves and sprigs of thyme, you simply put it in a roasting tray, cover it with foil and stick it in the oven. My only word of caution is in when you plan to serve it – go for a late lunch or evening meal – I say this as someone who found themselves in the kitchen at 6am with only a lark and the brisket for company, having invited friends for lunch at 1pm.
Here is a rough guide to cooking brisket:
2 kg piece boned, rolled beef brisket (fresh, not salted)
4-5 garlic cloves, bruised
Good handful of thyme sprigs
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Pre-heat the oven to gas 6/200C/400F. Tuck the garlic and thyme into and under the meat and pour over 2-3 tbs of olive oil, massage in and season. Roast for half an hour then remove from the oven, cover in foil, reduce the heat to gas mark 1/2/130C/250F and return to the oven for 4 hours. You then baste the meat with its juices and return to the oven again for a further hour at gas 3/170C/325F. At this point you can also add chunks of potato and shallots/baby onions, tossing them in the meat juices.
Birmingham-based Silverwood do a great range of roasting tins, available at a good specialist retailer.