How to cook a flavorful brisket without a smoker
Beef brisket is a favorite cut for many of us, When it’s on sale I buy it in large quantities and freeze it in portions of about 2-3 lb cuts.
If you don’t have access to a smoker (I don’t either) I figured out two decades ago how to get that flavor in my kitchen ON THE STOVE. I love it so much I haven’t changed how I make it in all these years.
Hack: Get smokey flavor without a smoker
Yes I did work as a professional chef for 8 years. NOT a grill master or bbq expert. I don’t care about a “smoke ring” on my meat. I just want that added complexity of flavor combined with other flavor components that marry together for a satisfying taste. As you do.
Here I am using an enamel dutch oven but have done it in a slow cooker and pyrex dish.
What you’ll need:
- beef brisket cut/size/weight to fit your cooking vessel (or fit your vessel to your cut as the case may be). Pick a baking dish/pan with deep sides to hold 3” of liquid plus any fat runoff. A heavy dutch oven or slow cooker. I don’t recommend cutting away too much of the fat .
- equal parts of light beer (very little hops flavor like miller light) and low sodium beef broth to halfway cover your brisket in the vessel of choice
- liquid smoke
- sliced yellow or white onions
- 3-6 garlic cloves (to taste)
- favorite bbq sauce if desired
Without browning, place your trimmed brisket into your roasting pan, dutch oven or slow cooker. Pour over beer and beef broth (you will reduce the cooking liquid at the end of braising). Add at least one medium sliced onion, two if you have a larger brisket (over 4 lbs), peeled garlic cloves and 1 teaspoon of liquid smoke for every 3 cups of liquid.
Slow cooker: Slow cook on high for 4 hours,
Oven braise: 325 oven covered tightly with foil for 4 hours
Dutch oven: Covered on stovetop on med low for 3 – 3.5 hours.
Drain away rendered fat
Defat the cooking liquid by pouring most of it (leaving some for the meat to rest in) into a liquid measuring cup or gravy separator. Place defatted liquid into a saucepan and simmer on medium high until it reduces by half (or more if the flavor has not concentrated enough). Add your favorite bbq sauce to taste if you like. I leave the aromatics in but you can strain them out if you prefer.
If you want more of a crusty brown fat cap on your brisket put it 12” away from the broiler and let render and get crispy before serving.