September 10, 2009

Southern Comforts

Each year I return home from the annual family beach trip carrying a few extra pounds and a handful of new recipes from my aunts. This year was no exception. Now, a month later, I am finally getting around to trying my aunt’s brisket recipe. Brian and I picked up a beef brisket at the farmer’s market. It took a couple of trips to two different grocery stores to round up the ingredients we needed (including Allegro Marinade and Liquid Smoke), but I finally got the meat into it’s overnight marinade. The next afternoon, I seared the brisket on both sides (about 6-7 minutes per side) on a grill pan and rubbed it with “Canadian Steak Seasoning,” which I ended up having to make myself because I couldn’t find it in the store. There were several different versions posted on various recipe sites, and I don’t know if any are exactly the seasoning this recipe called for, but the rub I made went a little something like this (adapted from a recipe on

Canadian Steak Seasoning
printable recipe

2 tsp paprika
2 tsp crushed black pepper
2 tsp coarse sea salt
1 1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 1/4 tsp onion powder
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp dill
scant 1 tsp red pepper flakes

I set the brisket on a rack over a roasting pan filled with an inch of water and 1/3 cup liquid smoke. I then attempted to cover the whole thing – not and easy task, since I only had about 3 feet of aluminum foil left – enough to cover about 3/4 of the pan. I didn’t have time to go to the store for more, so I pulled a couple of onions wrapped in foil out of the fridge and patched together enough to just barely cover the meat, rack, and roasting pan.

The recipe I used called for roasting a 3 lb. brisket at 400°F for 4 hours. I only had a 1.5 lb brisket, so I looked around online for advice on adjusting the cooking time. Each site I came across repeated the same refrain, “low and slow.” Most recommended a temperature of 225°F for 1.5 to 2 hours per pound. I had never cooked brisket before, but I remembered how delicious it was when my aunt made it at the beach, so I just went with the recipe I had: 400 degrees for 4 hours for a 3 lb brisket, which translated to about 2 hours for my 1.5 pounds of meat.

When Brian got home a little later, I expressed to him my concern about the cooking temperature, and he immediately suggested we call his mother for advice. We turned the temperature down and finished it off at 225 for the last 45 minutes of cooking. I was nervous that I had ruined the brisket by cooking it at too high a temperature.

We let the meat rest on the counter for 10 minutes, and it was time for the moment of truth:

Sliced paper thin, at an angle across the grain, it was perfect! We ate the brisket with a sauce of Allegro marinade, Worcestershire, liquid smoke and brown sugar and a side of Bourbon Sweet Potato Mash, adapted from the Neely’s recipe, which I came across while watching the Food Network. (I am a little infatuated with the Neely’s the past couple weeks. They are just so adorable in the kitchen together.)


Bourbon Sweet Potato Mash
printable recipe

1 large sweet potato (at least 1 lb)
3/4 tsp salt
3 Tbsp whole milk
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
scant 1 Tbsp molasses
2-3 Tbsp butter
scant 1 Tbsp bourbon

Peel the potato and cut into 1/2 inch pieces. Place in a pot with cold water (enough to cover the potato by 1 to 2 inches) and about 1/2 tsp salt. Boil for 5-7 minutes, until potatoes are fork-tender. Drain. Return to pot and cook out any remaining moisture over medium heat for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Mash potatoes.

Combine remaining ingredients (including remaining 1/4 tsp salt) in a small saucepan and warm over medium heat until butter is melted and ingredients are thoroughly combined. Add mixture to potatoes and stir to combine. Adjust seasoning to taste.


It was such a satisfying meal. Like a trip back home without having to check a bag!

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