Ginger ale, herbs, spices, mustard, ketchup, soy sauce and a slab of meat equal tender and juicy slow cooker beef brisket with smoky barbecue sauce.
It was my first time to cook Texas-style beef brisket. But the moment I started slicing the meat, I already knew it was going to be superb. And it was. We went to meat heaven.
It all started with Young Sheldon. You know, the spin-off from The Big Bang Theory. Young Sheldon Cooper is growing up in Texas. There is Dad George, Mom Mary, Big Brother Georgie and Twin Sister Missy. Living next door is Sheldon’s maternal grandmother whom the children called “Meemaw”.
In Episode 7 of Season 1, Meemaw refuses to give George her brisket recipe which, apparently, was to die for. That piqued my interest. But it was information that I filed inside my head to be retrieved at some convenient time. Then, two days ago, I remembered that we had a 1.2 kilo slab of beef brisket in the freezer. I got to work.
Texas-style beef brisket is traditionally slow cooked in a smoker. Ten to fourteen hours. We don’t have a smoker but we have a slow cooker and a bottle of liquid smoke. They did the trick.
With the right equipment and ingredients, making slow cooker beef brisket with smoky barbecue sauce is easy.
Start by lining the bottom of the slow cooker with sliced onion. This creates a buffer between the meat and the pot so that when the sugar in the sauce caramelizes, the underside of the meat won’t scorch.
Take the meat and lay it on top of the onion slices.
Make the barbecue sauce (details in the recipe below) and mix it with ginger ale. Pour over the beef. Set the slow cooker to LOW and cook the brisket for seven-and-a-half hours.
To prevent the meat from overcooking, remove the bowl from the cooker to allow the meat to cool slowly. This slow cooling process stabilizes the meat juices and, at the same time, gives the brisket more time to absorb all the flavors in the sauce.
Lift the brisket from the sauce and place in a baking tray lined with foil. Do not cover to allow the surface to dry a bit.
Strain the sauce and boil until syrupy then brush on every exposed surface of the meat.
Bake the brisket in a preheated 400F oven for about 10 minutes or just until the sauce caramelizes a little. Don’t overdo it. There is a thin line between caramelized and burnt.
Transfer the brisket to a cutting board and start slicing.
What’s the best way to enjoy slow cooker beef brisket with smoky barbecue sauce? Serve with rice, use as taco filling or pile slices of meat into a split bun or baguette. Optionally, drizzle more of the reduced sauce over the meat before serving.
- 1.2 to 1.5 kilos beef brisket in one piece
- 1 large onion peeled and thinly sliced
For the smoky barbecue sauce
- 3 tablespoons rock salt
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 tablespoon celery salt
- 1 tablespoon ground mustard
- 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons ground white pepper
- 3 tablespoons smoky paprika
- 2 tablespoons garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon ginger powder
- 1/2 cup spicy grainy mustard (we used homemade)
- 1/2 cup tomato ketchup
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1/4 cup dark brown sugar firmly packed
- 1 cup ginger ale
- 3/4 to 1 tablespoon liquid smoke (the amount depending on the actual weight of the brisket)
- Spread the onion slices to completely cover the bottom of the slow cooker bowl.
- Rinse the brisket, pat dry with paper towels and lay on top of the onion slices.
- Place the rock salt, thyme, oregano and basil in a spice grinder or food processor. Process until powdered.
- In a mixing bowl, mix together the processed salt and herbs with the rest of the ingredients for the sauce until the salt and sugar are dissolved.
- Pour the sauce over the meat.
- Set the slow cooker on LOW and cook the brisket for 7 and 1/2 hours.
- Remove the bowl from the cooker and let the brisket cool slowly to room temperature.
- Preheat the oven to 400F.
- Line a baking tray with foil and spray with oil. Alternatively, line the tray with non-stick baking paper or a silicone mat.
- Lift the brisket and lay on the prepared baking tray.
- Strain the sauce into a sauce pan. Boil, uncovered, until reduced to the consistency of syrup. DO NOT wait until too thick; it thickens as it cools.
- Brush the reduced sauce on every exposed surface of the brisket.
- Bake the beef brisket at 400F for about 10 minutes or until the sauce is lightly caramelized.
- Transfer the brisket to a cutting board, slice and serve with the remaining sauce on the side.
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