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I love barbeque. Americans love barbeque. Pretty much everyone in the world loves barbeque. You can slather barbeque on any number of meats, including pulled pork, chicken, ribs, and that lesser known but no less lovable cut of meat—the beef brisket.
My boyfriend, Doug, doesn’t just like barbeque brisket. He LOVES it. If we go to a restaurant and it’s on the menu, hands down, that’s what he’s going to order. And that brisket sandwich will disappear before you’ve even had a chance to ask for a taste test. So, when my parents asked me to make a meal for 25-30 people at their home in Kentucky, I knew a beef brisket was in order.
Beef brisket comes from the breast or lower chest area of the cow. Because of this (it’s a hardworking muscle), it has a lot of connective tissue that needs to be broken down before the meat will be tender, much like a pork shoulder or pot roast. For instance, in traditional Jewish cooking brisket is often braised in the same manner as a pot roast.
A low and slow stint in the oven breaks down the collagen in the brisket, and the fat cap on top bastes the meat as it melts down during the long cooking time. Five to six hours in the oven means you can put the brisket in and forget about it—or you can be a real go-getter and make your side dishes and dessert while it cooks.
The other great thing about brisket? It’s cheap! An 8-lb slab of brisket will serve 8-12 people and costs approximately $25. That’s only $2.50 a head! If you’re going to feed a crowd, this is the way to do it.
When you slice the brisket and add the barbeque sauce, you’ll understand why the six-hour wait was worth your while. The resulting brisket is melt-in-your-mouth tender, with a great tanginess from the BBQ sauce and a smoky bite from the liquid smoke in the marinade.
I cook my brisket in the oven, but if you have a smoker (I’m so jealous!) or a grill with wood chips, by all means, cook it indirectly on that. If you do, just be sure to lessen the amount of liquid smoke you use in the marinade and barbeque sauce. Try this recipe out for your next cook out or dinner party. I promise it’ll be a hit!
Beef Brisket with Homemade Barbeque Sauce
This recipe, adapted from Cathy G., serves 8-10. Simply double it to serve 20-25. Account for about 1 lb of meat per person. Start this the night before so the meat has time to marinate. I like to make the BBQ sauce the night before as well so the flavors have time to meld. For a print copy of this recipe, click here.
8-10 lb. lean beef brisket
¼-½ c. liquid smoke flavoring, depending on how smoky you like it
2 tablespoons onion salt
2 tablespoons garlic salt
For BBQ Sauce:
¼ c. and 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 onion, diced small
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 c. ketchup
½ c. water
¼ c. Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbs. liquid smoke flavoring
1 Tbs. mustard powder
½ Tbs. red pepper flake, if you like some heat.
1 tsp. celery salt
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Prepare brisket. Pour liquid smoke over brisket. Rub with onion salt and garlic salt. Roll brisket in foil and refrigerate overnight.
Cook brisket. Preheat oven to 300˚F. Place brisket in a large roasting pan. Cover and bake for 5-6 hours. Remove from oven, cool until easy to handle, and then slice. Put slices back into pan.
Make BBQ sauce. In a medium saucepan, melt butter. Add onion, sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, sauté 1 minute. Add brown sugar, ketchup, water, celery salt, liquid smoke, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, red pepper flake, salt and pepper. Stir together and bring to a simmer. CAN BE MADE ONE DAY AHEAD AND REHEATED BEFORE ADDING TO MEAT.
Pour sauce over and reheat. Pour sauce over meat slices in pan. Cover and bake for 30-60 minutes more until heated through. Serve brisket on hamburger buns or by itself.