Cook, Pop, Cook: Slow Cooker Smoked Pulled Beef Brisket
BBQ tends to be a very touchy subject, and rightfully so – it’s a topic of utmost importance. Dry or wet rub? Vinegar, tomato, or ketchup-based sauce? Is Red, Hot and Blue authentic BBQ? Does Rocklands suck -that- bad? Is Texas > Memphis > Kansas > Carolinas? Weber vs. Big Green Egg vs. used barrel drum? Charcoal or hardwood? Lots of points of disagreement. One thing I think all fans of BBQ can agree on is that standing outside in freezing temperatures, attempting to attend to a charcoal flame against the wind and the cold isn’t cute. So while my Smokey Mountain Cooker remains dormant, I still crave tender, delicious BBQ.
Earlier this year, I noticed a recipe over at Smitten Kitchen–great food blog w/ plenty of awesome food porn–for pulled beef brisket. Recently, the object of my affections became mine. I adapted her recipe, which she adapted from the Food Network – that great recipe provider in the fiber optics.
Wanna make this?
I used 5lbs of brisket, b/c 1) I’m cooking for 10 hours; I’m gonna fill up the cooker, and 2) that’s the standard size at Sam’s Club. I trimmed off as much fat as I could in order to keep this relatively healthy; this is turning out to be the opposite of BBQ. Since I was going to be serving this to my parents, I had to soak the beef in water overnight. This may just be a Korean thing, or maybe an Asian thing…but yeah, the beef looks pale and gross afterward, but supposedly, it’s better for you/tastes better/will make you taller/and help you score a 1600 on your SATs – or whatever the heck the highest score now is.
Anywho, even pale beef deserves some kosher salt and coarse ground black pepper. After cutting the brisket in half so that it will fit in the slow cooker, apply salt and pepper liberally to both sides.
After you do that and if you zoom in far enough, it doesn’t look -that- bad.
That actually looks decent, no?
Get your frying pan ready with some olive oil + medium heat. Once the oil is really, really hot, toss the beef in there. I cooked it for a few minutes on each side to maximize the drippings (see below).
Brisket #1 into the slow cooker:
See? Drippings. This is the nectar of the beef gods. It is meats gift to you. Do pay homage.
Now brisket #2 is ready for action. Sssssssizzle!
While that’s cooking, grab 2 sweet onions; peel them; shed a few tears; sniffle a little, and slice them bad boys up. A nice sharp knife is key. Besides, isn’t Wusthof fun to say? A deep voice is best. Mince some garlic too. I REALLY like garlic–it’s my civic duty as an Asian male–so I used an entire bulb. Mince it real fine!
Brisket #2 into the cooker:
Now it’s time to cook up the sauce that will be keeping our meat company for 10 hours. Throw the minced garlic into the beef drippings and let them cook for a bit. Then throw the onions in and give ’em a nice toss – make sure each gets some play w/ the drippings. Add 2 tablespoons chili powder, 1 tablespoon ground coriander, 1 tablespoon of ground cumin, and 1 tablespoon of garlic powder. Have I mentioned that I like garlic?
Toss that around for a bit. At this point, the drippings are no match for all the dry ingredients and you are testing the limits of your non-stick cookware. Here comes apple cider vinegar to the rescue! 1/4 cup will do the trick.
While that’s simmering, throw 1.5 cups of water in there too. I LOVE OXO products!
For the love of all that is good and holy, please don’t use a metal object to stir. Use a wooden spoon and make sure you get all the crustifieds off the bottom of the pan.
After 5 minutes or so, toss that mixture into the slow cooker. Don’t worry too much about specific cooking times – all of this is going into a slow cooker for 10 hours; it really won’t make a difference.
Now here’s the rest of the cast of characters: liquid smoke (find it in your grocery aisle near the BBQ sauces), molasses, chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, and diced tomatoes.
Throw in the tomatoes (14.5oz can, all the juices too), 6 of the chipotle peppers (chopped), 1/2 cup molasses, and 3 teaspoons of the liquid smoke. And throw in 6 bay leaves for good measure.
Give it a nice stir. My cooker was pretty full at this point, so it took some work.
Set it to cook on low for 10 hours and find something else to do.
TTYL, Beef! ❤
10 hours later, we are done!
Set the beef aside and marvel at it for a little bit.
Using a couple forks or your hands, pull the beef.
B E A utiful!
Now strain the contents of the slow cooker into a pot. Toss out all the stuff you caught in the strainer. You can try and cool the sauce to separate the oil, but I was pressed for time so I just used a spoon and got out as much as I could. Toss in a a teaspon of chili powder, a teaspoon of salt, a teaspoon of black pepper, and–you guessed it–a teaspoon of garlic powder and let that bad boy reduce.
Now, you can do one of 3 things: 1) serve the pulled beef by spooning some sauce over it, 2) throw the beef into the reduced sauce and toss it around, or 3) spoon your own BBQ sauce or favorite store bought sauce over it. Personally, I like my meat wet 😛 , but serve it as you wish. Dinner is ready!
Verdict: this dish was good but it in no way compares to brisket that is properly smoked. I liked it, but it was pretty similar to the barbacoa at Chipotle. Not that that’s a bad thing, but don’t expect the consistency of smoked brisket. But hey, there’s a blizzard outside, are YOU going to sit out there and smoke? Yes? You are? Can I come over?
Also, I liked the barbacoa pulled beef much better after simmering it in my own BBQ sauce (recipe to come later). It tasted like a really awesome sloppy joe.