I am really fond of cheap cuts of meat -- because of the price, the flavor, and also because traditional styles of cooking usually come up with up with kickass ways to get around the shortcomings of the cut, while still getting all the flavor.
Brisket's a perfect example of this, except... I've almost never had a brisket I liked. Too stewy and soft, with some kind of bland tomato sauce, at least one time I had it, and it scarred me for years to come. But this year my friend Nick served barbecued brisket at his summer birthday party and it was delicious. I got to thinking I'd serve it at my daughter's late August birthday party, which is usually a family/friend affair more than a kid's party. Because... why settle for dogs and burgers?
First I had to test it. I can't be cooking a brand new dish while making sure the table's set, the kids didn't break into the marshmallows and my mom's not putting too much tequila into the margaritas. While I was musing on all this, Cook's Illustrated sent out a recipe for brisket cooked on a charcoal grill. Yes, because who wants to keep the oven on for hours in the summer?
I followed their instructions to a t.
You have to use a combination of wood chunks and charcoal, and set up a bowl of water to steam the meat. I made a bowl out of tin foil.
Then the meat cooks slowly for hours. After three hours you swiftly add a few more chunks of charcoal.
For the first few hours you shield the meat with a piece of foil. I made this on a HOT day, and it was really nice sitting in the backyard under the fig tree, drinking iced tea and playing cards with my daughter, while I kept an eye on the grill.
It was truly delicious. My kids loved it, too. "It's kind of like bacon," one of them said, bestowing the most powerful compliment possible.
We are definitely having this for my daughter's bday. Following my friend Nick's lead (who is following Southern America's lead) we'll serve it with barbecue sauce, cole slaw and burger buns. YUM!