Easily the best thing about living at the beach is that people are excited to come and visit you. And the best thing about having formerly worked at a Jewish cultural institution is that some of your friends have off holidays (hey Shemini Atzeret what) that the general population does not have off. Which all leads to my point, which is that this past week, for the beginning of Passover, our dear friends Rachael and Alex (and their golden doodle Wednesday) made the trip down to Wilmington.
It’s no secret that I adore Rachael, and I think she’s found a wonderful partner in Alex. We had such an amazing time in the five days that they were here, taste testing pizzas, touring the Battleship North Carolina, taking the dogs to romp around Poplar Grove and Topsail Island, making chorizo, and, of course, cooking a special dinner for Passover. Now, there is not a Jewish bone in my body, but since I’m always up for a challenge I was excited when Rachael asked if we could make a traditional meal for the first night of Passover. The matzoh ball soup turned out perfectly (we got floaters!), and the matzoh bark we made was addictive (the whole tray was gone by lunch the next day), but the brisket was the star of the show. Instead of a classic Jewish brisket we decided to try a traditional Southern brisket. Rubbed with a sweet and spicy mix and smoked on the grill, the brisket was tender, richly flavored, and perfectly moist. And while we didn’t do a full seder it was lovely to have the opportunity to learn some of Rachael and Alex’s Passover traditions and share stories. After all, nothing is more beloved in our house than sharing food and spinning tales.
This was also the perfect opportunity for me to test my new Thermapen, a wireless thermometer made by ThermoWorks (thanks guys!), which was exactly what we needed for this recipe because it’s fast, accurate, and compact. Brisket, like most tough cuts of meat, should be cooked low and slow with a final internal temperature of 195F. We cooked it over indirect heat on the grill for about 4 hours, checking the temperature every 45 minutes or so, until the temperature read approximately 195 in a few different places. Then we finished it off in a warm oven with caramelized onions, which allowed the juices to redistribute as the meat rested.
All in all, it was an incredible visit. A well balanced blend of relaxation and playing tourist in our own city, we adored every bit of having them here. Kaylee, especially. I’ve never seen that puppy so exhausted.
1 3-5 pound cut of brisket
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp sea salt
1/2 tbsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tbsp garlic powder
1/2 tbsp chipotle
1/2 tbsp paprika
1/2 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp cracked black pepper
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cayenne
1 pat butter
The night before you’d like to serve the brisket mix together all of your spices and rub them into the brisket, all sides. Place tightly in a plastic bag and let sit in the fridge overnight. Soak your hickory chips in water overnight.
Your brisket will need 4-5 hours to cook and then an additional hour of rest before you can serve it, so be sure to factor that in to your day.
Heat the grill to 250-300. If possible, you want the brisket to be over indirect heat, so a top rack is ideal. Place the drained hickory chips in a metal container on the bottom rack for added smokey flavor. Wrap the brisket loosely in tin foil and place on the grill.
Cook on 250-300 for 4 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 190-195. Check every 45 minutes or so.
In a large pan caramelize the onions in the butter. Add the brisket (and the juices!) to the pan and place in a warm oven to rest for an hour. Slice and serve!