The thought conjures up visions of slow roasted goodness. Succulent mouth watering luscious meat...tasty and tender with flavor abound. A crust and texture that is simply out of this world. That is what we sought out to achieve. We started with a marination. Not as long as would have liked as we were pressed for time(a problem from the start) with the weekend approaching and we were not going to be around. We used a dry rub with some liquid goodness...the whole gamut from chili powders, cumin and coriander, garlic and mustard, cayenne and a plethora of herbs and aromats along with Worcestershire and Tabasco. This was applied and allowed to set for only 3 hours. Then at 6:30pm into a 155 degree box it went with the addition of a slathering of ground coffee, ancho chili powder, chipotle, smoked paprika and garlic powder. The idea was to go nice and slow for 24 hours just as we do for our shortibs or shanks, shoulders etc. A tough cut for sure and one that could withstand the tenure and provide for the nice crusty and flavorful result as one experiences in a nice southern barbecue. Each hour or two, I applied a special "mop sauce" concocted of cider, vinegar, sugar, honey, mustard, herbs, spices and such. Here is a recap of notes made whilst researching the process...
7:30pm- not much difference at all.
8:30pm- basted. Smells great already!
9:30pm- departing for night. Box holding steady at 155. Feeling good.
6:15am- Jim in to take a peek. Smells awesome. Basted. Has developed a nice crust and caramelization around meat.
9:30am- more basting to be done. Temp holding steady. Tough when probed with knife. Would seem like needs much more time to tenderize.
11:45am- not much new to report. Baste again.
2:30pm- 20 hours in box. Great aroma and caramelization. Getting very excited about this endeavor. Want to taste it. Still tough, with some signs of give on ends.
4:30pm- Again basted. Not much different to report. Still somewhat tough.
6:30pm- Can barely keep myself from removing and slicing into it. All cooks coming to see and smell.
7:30pm- 25 hours in the making. Why still tough? Smells great though.
8:30pm- last baste(no more mop sauce). Putting out a banquet. One more hour to allow fro ample tenderization.
9:30pm- Pulled brisket. Looks beautiful. Smells out of control, freakin crazy good. Rest 25-30 minutes or so while cleaning up.
10pm-ish...slices wonderfully. Exterior is beautifully sexy. Then, the major bummer....it is dry. How could this be? It was slow cooked at 155, so as not to put undue stress on the cell structure. Nothing to extract all of it's moisture by excessive heat. This may be my last journal entry as I am not sure about eating it as the internal heat temp took some time to achieve even 130. If so is to be, then I hope it tastes great.
Taste Notes- the crust was caramelized and moist and thoroughly superb. If only the rest of it were in this realm. The meat actually tasted good, but just so damn dry. Dry like one left a tenderloin in a 375 degree oven for an hour, but very moist on the outside. So frustrating, yet exciting about learning about a new process. Sure, we have slow roasted many, many things in the past with stellar results. Braised beyond belief with the same outcome. Here is what has come to mind to look towards for the next experiment...second brisket subjected to an initial brine to allow for more moisture retention and cook for same amount of time, third brisket subject processed the exact same way and only allowed to cook for half that amount of time(recalling an excerpt from T. Keller's book "Under pressure" about even though a piece of meat can be kept at a low temp, it can still overcook, even though it is not overcooked). I am hesitant to increase the heat level of the box as I do not want to rupture the cell walls. I also know that when we braise shortribs for 24-48 hours, it works very well. Is it because the amount of collagen and elastin are far greater and superior to that of the brisket and thus ends up being a more moist cut? Is it due to the lack of a brine, which I know to be of great benefit when cooking poultry and other cuts? Why is our brisket for corned beef when boiled so nice and slow, and yet it tenderizes in the just under boiling temp a better outcome and at a fraction of the time? This will become the test to find out. I am hopeful that either the brining, the less cooking time, the temperature (if allowed to increase) will show signs of positive growth. So...two days later, feeling fine personally, yet disappointed emotionally. Only in the sense that we failed at that attempt. I enjoy and seek the ability to be successful on the first time of any project I take on. That is my nature. And yet, the drive and devotion to my own success is to persevere and strive to achieve that success in an accomplishment of the project itself, even if that means doing a billion times!