Thursday, December 13, 2012

Smoked Meat: Part 2

Talk about a cliff-hanger! Here, some five months later, is the result of the great smoked meat experiment.

As you may recall, this summer I was fiddling with brisket trying to find the right recipe to properly cure a hunk of humble cow meat into a glistening, salty smoked meat. And, it worked! Here are the glorious pics to prove it.

Here's the brisket, just before going in the Smoky Mountain Cooker (and two weeks after sitting in a cure in my basement fridge). 

Here it is, ready to undergo its glorious transformation. I smoked it for seven hours at about 200 degrees Celsius. Sounds time-consuming, I know, but I actually prefer longer smokes. The longer cook time means that small fluctuations in heat have less impact on the final product (unlike a shorter cook, like smoked salmon, where 15 minutes of a really hot flare-up could dry out the fish). 

I opted for maple this time around. Mostly because it's local, but also because I'm a patriot at heart. I usually toss two chunks in at the beginning (when the uncooked meat will soak up the smoke best), but in this case I added just one -- cause it was big.  (I also added some berbere that I picked up in Ethiopia last year to the spices included in the cure, because I'm sentimental that way.) 

This pic and the one below were taken at about the half-way mark I think. I know this because there's been some tell-tale evidence of sampling on the business end of the brisket, which usually happens when curious neighbours saunter by lured in by the wafts of spicy smoke. 

And here we are at Hour 7. It's dark and smoky -- with that characteristic red colour. Yum. 

After letting it sit for an hour or so, I steamed it for another hour (yes -- there's another step). I recommend not skipping the steaming if you try this out. It's the traditional way to do it and infuses some much-needed moisture back into the meat. Below are some blurry photos of the finished product. Sorry, but my hands were trembling in anticipation.

Voila. This was definitely the best attempt yet at traditional Montreal style smoked meat. Well-marbled, fatty, and succulent. It was so good, I'm preparing another as we speak to serve as Christmas presents this year. Give the gift of smoke!