Char Siu Brisket

My darling husband likes reading Cooks Illustrated. Christopher Kimball sometimes has some finicky statements. One was that the home cook had no point in cooking brisket, because it wasn’t worth the efforts. Albany John threw down some verbal gauntlets, and I thought it was a good time to test this theory out. Is brisket better off just cooked as a roast? Is the home cook better off not smoking the brisket?

Well, Albany John made a crock potted roast with the brisket. I’d never had uncured brisket. I’d only ever had it smoked or corned. It was quite lovely, but I can’t say that it’s all that different from any other kind of stewed meat I’d had.

Albany John cut half of the beef off to save for me and my smoking experiment (from 8 O’Clock Ranch). Any more than that for two people is just too much. This was a pretty lean cut, as far as brisket goes. I thought it was money well spent.

I had approximately 1 lb 4 oz of brisket to start with.

I popped it in a marinade (I’ll include a recipe for the marinade later) overnight and then put it in my lil stovetop smoker with 3 T of Cherry and 3 T of Red Oak wood shavings. I let it smoke for about 6 hours under 250 F.

And then this dark darling came out! I finished it off in the oven with some of the reserved marinade cooked down to put a laquer on it.

And wound up with this even darker beauty. There was a bit of smoke, but not a lot of smoky flavor. At least as much as I’d have liked, but I think I just need to increase the amount of wood chips I put in. There was still a small amount of smoke.

The meat was moist, and still firm. Thankfully I hadn’t cooked it past the firm stage and into the falling apart stage.

The marinade didn’t penetrate much of the brisket. Maybe it would need a longer time to sit and absorb, but it was primarily flavored at the edges. It was okay, but I think it would have been fine or better without much of a marinade. It was more like a hint of char siu flavoring. Maybe a simple salt and pepper rub next time.

I wound up with a smaller roast – it shrunk to 11 3/8 ounces. I sadly did not account for how much liquid the marinade added. But let’s just compare the starting and ending weight, shall we?
Beginning: 1.25 lb (100%)
Ending: .71 lb (56.8%)
Total loss: .51 lb (43.2%)
Wow! a 43.2 % loss of weight! Crazy stuff!
So my cooked 1/4 lb would have to start out as .44 lb! Almost half of a pound! I paid about $4.50/lb for this brisket, so it’s really closer to $6.50 per lb cooked. Yowie.
If I were a restaurant that served 1/4 lb portions of brisket in my sandwiches, and chared a 60% markup for overhead I would need to charge about $2.60 for the meat portion of the sandwich. Assuming my math is right, since lately my brain has been kind of dead.
Gung Hey Fat Choy, bitches! Usher in that year of the rabbit.

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