St. Pat's Day grilled brisket alters family's overcooking

March 12, 2000|By Rob Kasper

I grew up believing that you ate brisket to honor St. Patrick. On St. Patrick's Day, supper was either corned beef brisket or its cousin, roast beef brisket.

I preferred the cousin, a brisket that had been dusted with seasoned flour, seared in a little oil, sprinkled with a package of dry onion soup and cooked in a heavy lidded pot in about 3/4 cup of water over low heat on the stove top. In keeping with Irish tradition, this brisket was cooked to death, bubbling on the burner for an entire afternoon.

Meanwhile, potatoes, about a half dozen of them, were peeled and, in keeping with tradition, the potato peelers gabbed, discussing matters great and small. "Chewing the rag" is what my grandmother used to call it.

When the beef was almost falling apart, it was pulled from the pot, and the potatoes were added. They, too, were cooked until they almost fell apart. Finally, the potatoes were removed, and a wonderful brown gravy was made with the pan juices.

This year, however, I am going to alter family tradition and cook the brisket on the barbecue grill. The brisket will have a pleasant, smoky flavor. That is the way the meat is often served in Kansas City, Mo., a place filled with brisket-eating Irishmen.

Kansas City Barbecued Beef Brisket

Serves 8

3 handfuls hickory chips

2 teaspoons paprika

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 beef brisket, 4-5 pounds

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Barbecue Sauce (see recipe)

Soak three handfuls of hickory chips in water for at least an hour. Prepare a fire in a kettle grill, with the coals on the side.

In a small bowl, mix the paprika, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Pat the brisket dry with paper towels. Rub the entire surface of the brisket with vegetable oil, then rub the paprika mixture over the meat.

Drop half the wood chips onto the fire. Place the brisket in the center of the cooker, on a grill rack about 4-6 inches above the fire. Cover the grill and open the air vents about halfway, enough to maintain a slow, steady heat. Cook the brisket for 1 hour.

Turn the brisket, drop the remaining wood chips on fire. Cook for 1 more hour. Brush the meat lightly with barbecue sauce, then turn the brisket and cook, turning it two or three times, and brushing ot lightly with sauce until the brisket is well browned and has formed a crust on the outside, about 3 1/2 hours total.

Remove the meat from grill and let it rest for 10 minutes. To serve, carve in thin slices against the grain. The slices will probably crumble. Arrange the slices on a warm platter and serve with sauce.

Barbecue Sauce

Makes 2 1/4 cups

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 yellow onion, chopped

1/2 cup finely chopped celery

1 1/4 cups ketchup

1/2 cup cider vinegar

1/2 cup water

1/3 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

Warm the oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat, add the onion and celery. Stir and cook until the vegetables are soft, about 7 minutes.

Add the ketchup, vinegar, water, sugar, cayenne and salt. Stir well. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover partially and simmer until the sauce has thickened, 15-20 minutes. Cool and serve.

-- From "Williams-Sonoma Outdoor Cooking"

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