I figure I'll start off with a tried and true recipe that, while I don't make very often, is always very tasty. When my husband and I got married, his family put together a box filled with recipes from their family and friends. This brisket was one of them. Unless I'm experimenting on friends, I usually cook for two. So, I scale a lot of recipes to avoid waste; leftovers tend to sit in the fridge until they achieve consciousness. This recipe is unusual, in that it makes good leftovers that I actually ate. I brought them to work for lunch. The original recipe called for 4 lbs of beef for 8 people, so I wanted 1 lb for the two of us. The smallest piece Wegman's had was 5 lbs, but they cut it in half for us. I love sauce, so I went ahead and made the full recipe instead of scaling it for two.
The home made BBQ sauce is the focus of this dish. I've tweaked the sauce a little because I feel like 1 tsp of chili powder is never enough. Celery seeds are a very important part of this sauce's flavor. The sauce freezes well for future use. Aside from needing to cook for 3+ hours, this recipe doesn't involve a lot of work. The sauce is very easy to make. I decided to top my sandwich with some caramelized onion. This was the first time I've done this, and it worked really well!
I paired the brisket with some grilled salt and vinegar potatoes. For most of my life, I thought potatoes were the Devil's Tuber, but more recently I've been trying to eat them more. I like potatoes when they are seasoned well or have some kind of extra flavor added to them. I still can't eat them plain or even worse, mashed (yuck!). This recipe caught my eye because it looked like a healthier alternative to my favorite type of potato chip: salt and vinegar. While they smelled good, these were a bit of a disappointment. They were quite limp despite the extra time they spent in the grill pan. Perhaps it's because I used my grill pan instead of my real grill. Maybe they needed significantly more time because they were larger potatoes. Regardless, they didn't cook for long enough or the pan didn't do as good of a job as a real grill. I suspect that 1/4 inch is too thick. Next time I attempt these, I'll set my mandoline to 1/8 and see if that improves the texture, or use smaller potatoes if I can find them. I'll definitely try them again because I love vinegar and grilling is a healthier alternative to frying or eating potato chips.
Beef Brisket with Homemade BBQ Sauce
Serves 2 with leftovers for 2.
2 lbs beef brisket, lightly salted
1/2 onion, preferably Spanish or sweet, thinly sliced
For the sauce:
1 cup ketchup (I used organic ketchup)
1 cup water
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp chili powder (I used about 1 Tbsp of Penzey's medium hot blend)
1 tsp celery seeds (I used about 1 Tbsp).
1 tsp liquid smoke (optional, but I used it).
1) Heat oven to 350.
2) While oven is heating, put all of the sauce ingredients in a pot and mix well.
3) Heat the sauce on the stovetop over medium heat until it simmers and thickens a little. This can take a variable amount of time, depending on how thick you like your sauce. I simmered it for about 10 minutes and then let it sit with the lid on and the heat off while the beef cooked.
4) Place a sheet of tin foil in a baking pan. Make sure it's large enough to loosely wrap the beef.
5) Put the lightly salted beef in the pan and pour about 1/2 cup of the sauce over the top.
6) Fold the piece of foil over the beef so that it's completely covered.
7) Bake in the oven for about 3 hours, or until the meat comes apart in strings.
8) When the meat is almost done (about 20 minutes left), reheat the sauce over low heat.
9) To caramelize the onions, pour a little vegetable oil in a frying pan and heat it over medium heat. Add the onions and stir well to coat them with oil. When they begin to brown, reduce the heat to low.
10) Cook the onions, stirring frequently, until they are the desired color. (For me, this was about 10 minutes since I was hungry).
Grilled Salt and Vinegar Potatoes
I generally followed the recipe I found on 101 Cookbooks, which was in turn adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe. Wegman's didn't have fingerling potatoes, so I just bought 2 regular waxy potatoes. I think that part of the reason the picture on 101 Cookbooks looks so much better than mine is because the potatoes were smaller. I intended to make the fennel salt that was posted on 101 Cookbooks, but I completely forgot about it. Here is the recipe as I made it:
2 waxy potatoes
2 cups white wine vinegar (I had to use more than this to cover my potatoes)
2 Tbsp olive oil
sea salt to taste
1) Wash the potatoes and slice them into 1/4 inch thick slices (I will use the 1/8 setting on my mandoline next time).
2) Pour vinegar into a pot and arrange the potatoes so that they are completely covered by the vinegar. (I had to add extra vinegar).
3) Bring the vinegar to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer the potatoes for 5 minutes or so, until they are tender but not soft. Turn off the heat and let the potatoes sit in the vinegar for 30 minutes.
4) Drain the potatoes and put them in a bowl. Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste. (I used about 1/2 tsp salt in the bowl).
5) Heat a grill pan over high heat. Grill the potatoes about 5 minutes each side. (I sprinkled extra sea salt on them while they were grilling).