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Sunday, April 7, 2013

Weird little mini-brisket

On Saturday, I hit my normal meat counter, and lo and behold, what looked like a brisket point was right there. For me, I love the point far more than the flat of the brisket and here was a small grass-fed brisket from my favorite Humboldt County producer. Purchased! Woke up Sunday morning, fired the pit and took a look at my little brisket point, and was surprised to see, it as a full 4 pound packer, well, a weird, tiny, 4 pound packer with the smallest, thinnest excuse for a flat I have ever seen. By the time I got done trimming off the membrane and such, it was probably around 3 pounds. No matter, I seasoned it up with Ted & Barneys Meat Rub, a product that comes from just over the river from where this apparently tiny steer once sort of fed.

Tiny Packer

From here, I decided to roll it, that paper thin flat would never hold up in the cook. So, a little butcher twine and I had a brisket roast. The meat was so soft, it barely held in the butcher tie I used. Onto the smoker which had locked into 250F by then.

Brisket Roast, I'll be famous

It sat at the 250F temperature for 2 hours, then I wrapped it in some butcher paper and forgot about it for another 2 hours. The temperature somewhere along the line approached 375F, and the paper got a little crisp. But, after a mere 6 hours, it felt about right, so I probed and it was tender. Pulled, wrapped in new paper and rested for about an hour. I had no idea what to expect.

Tiny little slices

Well, I ended up with tiny little slices of brisket, but, where they tender, they sure looked good. A tiny little smoke ring, almost no visible fat, let's check if it bends.

Yep, bendy, downright floppy

So, the slices flopped right over, I didn't bother with the slicing knife, just a regular scalloped utility knife, but, cut like a champ, no crumbling and very soft. Yep, I can cook a brisket still, darn fine one actually. Time to build a sandwich.

A tiny sandwich, with tiny dill pickle slices

A little horseradish mayo, some dill pickles and a soft white roll, lightly toasted. Who needs a plate, I got a cutting board.

Optional Ale shown

While the whole thing was smaller than expected, the flavor was all brisket. First off, the Ted & Barney's Meat Rub was excellent. I am surprised every time I use it, it mostly look like salt and pepper, but, it gets the job done. While the brisket was weirdly shaped and tiny, it cooked up just like a full size packer, and rendered out beautifully. A tender, flavorful brisket in every way.

Cook Detail:
UDS cooker
temps: 250F (2 hours), 250F to 375F (2 hours), 325F (2 hours)
wrapped after 2 hours (butcher paper)
unwrapped after 4 hours
rested 1 hour or so (wrapped in clean butcher paper)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Bao bun

For some time, I have been fussing around with bread dough, trying to come up with a suitable bun for pulled pork and other BBQ-type sandwiches. I have made many good bread rolls, but, I am wanting the soft white bun quality that a good BBQ pork sandwich has, but, not having to buy it from the store.

As I was munching on some Pork Belly Bao, it struck me that this might be something to try making, this time starting with a few recipes from other cooks, whose Asian cooking chops are well known, primarily, I would rely on Andrea Nguyen and her book Asian Dumplings, then riff wildly off of that. I ended up making some chicken and mushroom bao, which tasted great. Which, along with some leftover slaw, gave me a test bed idea. This idea.

Yes, a Bao-wich

I had a leftover chicken mushroom bao, which was mostly a steamed bread dough, around some slow braised after roasting chicken and shiitake mushrooms, along with ginger, onion, garlic and carrots. The bao was given a toast to warm up, then split and piled with some Asian inspired slaw. The bao bun was terrific. Soft, pillowy and had a great texture. I have a new plan. This was an excellent bao dough as well, even though I over-steamed a couple, these did not shrink or tighten, they kept their smooth shape. A winner so far.

Bao Dough:
1/8 cup agave syrup
1/2 cup milk
3/8 cup water
1 tablespoon yeast


1. Combine and heat water and milk to 110F.
2. Add syrup and mix. Add yeast and allow to sit for 20 minutes to proof.

1/2 tablespoon baking powder
3 cups flour
1 tablespoon fat (I used palm shortening, you could also use lard, bacon grease etc...FAT)

3. Combine dry ingredients, work fat into the flour completely.
4. Combine liquids with dry ingredients in a large bowl.
5. Knead in bowl for 5 minutes, dough may appear a little rough still.
6. Oil bowl, cover with plastic wrap, rest for 2 hours.
7. Remove from bowl, knead for 2 minutes, dough will become smooth and stiff.
8. For bao, or other bread shape, I plan on doing buns next time.

This dough comes out feeling quite stiff, but, it remains very workable. It steams beautifully, and my plan, is to steam them for 12 minutes, then toast them in a 350F oven for color and texture.