Last year my boyfriend and I went on a little road trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles then on to Las Vegas. It was the first time I’d visited America and fell in love instantly. The people, the buildings, the food… all larger than life. I think I must have put on a zillion stone as I ate my way around the west coast. No regrets whatsoever, well apart from not being able to finish all my food (not only was it stupidly wasteful but I’m also really competitive so losing to food damaged my ego 3 times a day). I quickly learned to order small portions or kids meals, but even these were insanely large, no wonder obesity is at an all time high.
I ate a lot of amazing and varied food that trip but one of the best meals was towards the end of our journey. Driving through Arizona along the historic Route 66, we decided to stop for some food and find a place to park up for the night. Both of us were beyond hungry, we were hangry. We were at that stage where you can’t even talk, knowing that you’ll snap if you do. So we just stared out the van’s windows in search of somewhere to eat but saw nothing but dust and rocks. The desert is breathtakingly beautiful, but throw hunger induced rage into the mix and its the bleakest shit you’ll ever see. Finally we came to the small dead-end town of Ash Fork. The kind of place you see in horror movies where the locals lure you in with a twangy accent and their hick hospitality, then they hit you over the head, tie you up and slice you up bit by bit for dinner. Fun.
We came to a place called ‘Lulu Belles BBQ’ and were pleasantly surprised with what we found, a decent looking building with a near-full dining room. To make us feel more at home there were a couple of guys skateboarding out the front, so my boyfriend got his board out and they bonded over their love of planks of wood with wheels on. We went inside, sat at the bar and were greeted by a toothless man and his semi-toothless lady. They kindly bought us fireball whiskey shots and enthusiastically recommended the brisket and the ribs. The couple ended up being some of the nicest folk we met the whole time we were out there, making me realise perhaps I’m more judgmental than I thought due to my surprise that these small town, self-proclaimed rednecks were actually interesting and humorous people. We took their advice and ordered the 20hr slow-smoked brisket and the ribs then proceeded to drift silently off to heaven with every meaty bite. It was hands down the best barbecue food I’ve ever eaten.
Now we’re back in Bristol, UK and I’m craving that beatiful brisket again. Sadly I have no smoker (it’s on the endless wishlist in my head) so I’m just going to slow cook this bad boy for a few hours in the oven (can be done in slow-cooker). Make the rub for the meat and marinade it overnight before you get that brisket anywhere near an oven. This gives a flavour than cannot be replicated in quick-time. Serve your brisket with anything you want, it doesn’t matter. No ones looking at the sides when this beast is around (but in all seriousness, a bit of coleslaw and some fries go down pretty well!).
For the rub:
- 1tbsp paprika
- 1tbsp cumin seeds
- 1tbsp yellow mustard seeds
- 1.5tbsp black peppercorns
- 2tsp cayenne pepper
- 2tsp garlic powder
- 1.5tbsp dark brown sugar
For the Brisket
- 1.5kg beef brisket
- 2000ml beef stock
- 330ml can Coca Cola
For the BBQ sauce:
- Juices from the brisket pan
- 200ml red wine vinegar
- 100ml bourbon whisky
- 200ml tomato ketchup
- 50g dark brown sugar
- Splash of Worcestershire sauce
- Put the mustard seeds, cumin seeds and peppercorns in a dry frying pan on a medium heat for a few minutes, giving them a gentle shake to keep them from burning. When nice and toasty transfer to a pestle and mortar or a spice grinder and blitz to a chunky dust.
- Mix in the cayenne pepper, paprika, garlic powder and sugar.
- Open up the brisket, lay it flat and score the inside, rub in half of the spice, roll back up and tie with string.
- Rub the remaining spice mix over the rolled up brisket and put in the fridge overnight.
- The next day preheat your oven to 200°c. Put the brisket in a high sided oven dish and cook in the oven for 25minutes.
- Then add the beef stock and Coca Cola to the brisket and cover. Turn the heat down to 140°c and put back in the oven for 3 ½ to 4 hours. Checking every now and then, if the liquid goes down too much then top up with extra stock.
- Once your brisket is falling apart at the push of a spoon it’s ready to come out. Remove the brisket from the dish and pour juices into a saucepan. Heat on the hob on a high heat.
- Add the red wine vinegar and bring to the boil. Add the sugar, whisky, ketchup and Worcestershire sauce and turn down the heat. Leave to simmer for 10-15 minutes.
- Once the BBQ sauce is thick and glossy smother the brisket with it and get it on the table ASAP!