Memorial Day is quickly approaching and it is a time to get together, remember those who we have lost, and a time for family. My own family visits friends, go fishing, and enjoy a nice barbecue. Proper barbecue (BBQ) is slow-cooking meat at a low temperature for a long time over wood or charcoal. In North America, BBQ originated in the late 1800s during the cattle drives. The cowboys were fed the less than perfect cuts of meat, often brisket, a tough and stringy piece of meat that required five to seven hours of cooking to tenderize. Other barbecue meats used were pork butt, pork ribs, beef ribs, venison and goat.
The slow cooking would allow the toughest of meats to tenderize during the slow cooking process. It is no secret that I enjoy cooking over a fire. BBQ and smoking meats is a nice way of creating a tasty meal out of the cheapest cuts. Sometimes even sealing up a tough piece of meat, like brisket, can be tender using a slow cooked method. On of my favorites, is using a cast iron pot on the fire or grill. I place thinly sliced onions or leeks at the bottom with the brisket on top with just a bit of salt, pepper, and chili powder and then place it fat side up and cover the pot.
The onions will keep the meat from sticking to the pot, help flavor the meat, and help keep it moist while it slow cooks. When using this method, I let it cook for 2-3 hours. It’s hard to resist though as it cooks, it smells so good. When done, I use the onions as a side dish to be served with the brisket. I avoid the sauces as it just creates a mess. Keep the flavors simple and you will enjoy your dish.
Other variations can include:
- marinade of soy sauce and honey or using curry powder for an Asian influenced
- marinade of Coca-Cola, so a bit of a “pop.” The sugar in this version will help caramelize the outside while leaving the inside moist and flavorful.
- A Latin inspired, chili powder and cumin with garlic
Using a wood fire:
Depending on the types of wood you use, can determine the heat of the fire and how long it will last. Hard wood like Oak, will burn slower and longer. Pine will burn fast and hot. I prefer to use fruit tree wood or cedar due to its aromatic influences. Wood fires are very different the standard BBQ or stove/oven cooking. I strongly encourage you to try wood fire cooking if you haven’t already. Please make sure you use safe precautions including having a bucket of water or a hose ready in case the fire gets out of control.
I hope all of my readers have a safe Memorial Day.