As a food writer, former kitchen grunt, and consummate gourmand I tend to know my way around a brisket. That all changed when I got an Anova Precision Cooker. The accuracy of my cook times massively increased and I was able to actually relax while executing low and very slow cooks.
Over time I've tinkered a lot with spice rubs, marinades, and even flash brines. I've whittled my recipe down to the bare basics so that the meat truly shines through. I tend to hit up my local butcher for a specific cut and size. I cook for a family of four -- so a 2 to 3 pound brisket generally does the trick for a Sunday dinner and then some tasty sandwiches going into the next week's lunches. I like the get a cut of brisket that's half lean and half streaked with plenty of fat and nice fat cap running along the whole piece. It's not essential to track down a butcher that'll make perfect cuts just for you. You can easily grab yourself a nice piece from your local grocery store. Once you have a nice piece of brisket, the rest is pretty straight forward with a succulent end result.
Sous Vide Smoked Brisket
- 2-3 pound beef brisket
- 2 teaspoons black peppercorns, ground
- 2 teaspoons sea or kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons saltpeter or prague powder
- 1 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)
Ready the meat
First things first, make sure you're starting at or near room temperature with your meat. Make sure to pat it dry with paper towels as well. You don't want to be dropping an ice cold piece of meat into your sous vide bath. You also don't want all your seasoning running off with excess moisture on the surface of your brisket.
I like to grind my black peppercorns in a pestle and mortar. This allows me to make a fairly coarse grind to match the coarseness of the sea salt. Put the pepper, salt, and saltpeter together in a bowl and mix well. Next, massage all that seasoning into every inch of the brisket. Really get it in there with a liberal coating around the whole cut.
Smoke the meat
I have a handheld electric smoker. I place the seasoned brisket in a 1-gallon zip lock bag and insert the pipe of the smoker and make sure the zip is as sealed as it can. I fill the smoker bowl with a nice pinch of hickory shreds and light it up. The bag should completely filled with smoke. Pull out the pipe and close as quickly as you can without letting too much smoke out.
The smoke is going to soak into the meat as it rests. Generally, a good 45 to 60 minutes does the trick. Or wait until the smoke has completely dissipated and the brisket has a dark burgundy color to it. (NOTE: If you don't have access to a handheld smoker, substitute 1 teaspoon of liquid smoke. Simply add to the bag before cooking!)
Cook your brisket
While the smoke is merging with the brisket, ready a large basin with your Anove Precision Cooker on 155°F/68.4°C.
Use the water immersion method to get all the air out of your zip lock or transfer your brisket to a vacuum sealed bag. And drop that beautifully seasoned brisket into the water for 24 hours. It's probably a good idea to cover the basin with some foil to prevent evaporation. And maybe check the water level when you wake up the next morning.
Finishing to perfection
Preheat your oven to its highest setting. My oven tops out at 450°F and is an old gas oven. So it's slow.
Pull the brisket from the water and remove from the bag. Make sure to reserve all that savory jus from the bag. You can either make a quick gravy or save it from some brisket au jus sandwiches later in the week.
Place the brisket on a rack over a roasting pan -- fat side up -- and pop it into your piping hot oven for around 30 minutes. You're going to have to use your ears and nose for this one as every oven is a little different.
Once you hear the fat crackling on the brisket pretty regularly and you can smell the fat starting to cook at the bottom of the pan -- pull your brisket out. You just want to get a crisp layer of fat and color on the brisket, not continue cooking it.
Lastly, and most importantly, make sure to rest your beautiful brisket. This will lock in the flavors, moisture, and amp up those colors. Wrap the brisket in greaseproof paper and then wrap again in foil to seal it. After about 30-45 minutes, unwrap that wonderful piece of meat like it's Christmas morning.
Slice the brisket against the grain at around 1/4 inch thickness and serve immediately. The pink meat will have a succulent moisture, the fat streaked through the meat adds an unctuous counterpoint to the lean, and the crispy fat cap brings the perfect mix of textures to each bite.
Throw some on some rye. Serve it with mac 'n cheese and greens. Plate it up with mashed potatoes and gravy. Or just enjoy it on its own!Be sure to check out the full sous vide brisket recipe and more on our recipes site, as well as on the Anova Culinary App.