‘Dragon’s Back’ Beef Brisket Sous Vide.

Beef Brisket Sous Vide My cycling buddy James Lawlor, of the Rathmines butchery of the same name, was wondering if I could come up with any half interesting recipes for brisket (We tend to talk of little else except food when we are out in the mountains). It tends to be a tough enough cut so, it tends to be inexpensive. The dual attraction of tough beef and low price made it an ideal candidate for an experiment in the sous vide bath. 

One of the things that annoys me is how the sous vide vacuum machine sucks any liquids (particularly nice red wine) out of the bag and makes a big mess. “First world problem”, you blurt. Yes, it is. But, I was delighted to find a first world solution to to the problem. I had decided that I was going to prepare pepper and red wine brisket sous vide. My solution to the wine being sucked from the bag was to freeze the wine first.

That's a frozen quarter glass of Arelius Saint-Emilion Grand Cru.

That’s a frozen quarter glass of Arelius Saint-Emilion Grand Cru.

I gave the brisket a heavy peppering (with pepper) and placed it in the vacuum bag.

Lots of pepper gives a delicious end result. Hot and peppery.

Lots of pepper gives a delicious end result. Hot and peppery.

I then added the wine and sealed the deal.

It does look like a dragon or dinosaur or something big and ugly.

It does look like a dragon or dinosaur or something big and ugly.

Hence the name, ‘Dragon’s Back’ Beef Brisket. Next, I popped it into a 56ºC water bath for 24 hours. I then removed it from the bag (reserving the juices), patted it dry and seasoned with sea salt. I finished it off on the barbecue (quickly on high heat to avoid drying it out).

That's about a kilo of meat sitting there. It browns very quickly.

That’s about a kilo of meat sitting there. It browns very quickly.

All that was left to do was to carve it and serve it to my appreciative diners.

This ended up with the flavour of brisket and the texture of fillet.

This ended up with the flavour of brisket and the texture of fillet.

The brisket is tricky to cut as one needs to go against the grain. One ends up with long thin slices of deliciousness. I served it with a big salad, bread and a reduction made from the reserved bag juices. These need to be heated, strained and reduced. One ends up with a most amazingly flavoursome sauce.

This is a fantastic way to get real flavour and succulent meat on a budget.

This is a fantastic way to get real flavour and succulent meat on a budget.

The sauce combines the two main ingredients – the beef and the Arelius Saint-Emilion Grand Cru so it would be churlish to not enjoy a glass of same along with the meal. Give this one a go in your sous vide. They’ll be draggin’ you back for more…

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  • First of all, you are a brilliant, brilliant man to freeze that wine before putting it in the sous vide bag! That part of the post blew my mind all on its own. Well done, sir! Second, I’ve never tried brisket from a sous vide machine. I bet it’s incredible though. A friend of mine just started using his to make steaks and they look absolutely perfect. Back home, we mostly just BBQ brisket by cooking it low and slow with a lot of smoke. The results are heavenly, but it’s a lot of work.

    • My friend Stefan over at http://stefangourmet.com/sous-vide/ likes to smoke the brisket before sous viding (is there such a word?). He has very high standards and tells me it is fantastic. I must try it out too. Thanks for the nice words.
      C

      • Thanks for the shout out, Conor. What is great about smoking is first, is that during the 24-hour cook the smoky flavor (from only 15 minutes of smoking) will penetrate all the way into the meat.

        • I was talking to a butcher today. He tells me that he is now brining brisket for 5 to 6 hours and then delivering them to a ‘craft’ smokehouse. They then smoke the brisket and charge premium prices for it. I must try a brined, smoked and sous vided version myself.

          • You should and you will love it. Personally I prefer a dry cure over a wet cure (which is the same as a brine), because it doesn’t replace any meat juices with water. I’ll have to send you more saltpeter if you want the meat to stay pink when you brine or cure it… It is no trouble, just let me know.

          • Thanks Stefan. The dry brining seems to be a great idea. I will get to experimenting as soon as possible. Holidays are just around the corner and this will wait until Autumn, I suspect.

  • That’s an excellent piece of meat for sous vide and great innovation in freezing the wine 😉

    • Thanks MD. I freeze the occasional quarter bottle if by some strange set of circumstances it is not guzzled. It makes for easy sauce prep too even if one is not opening a bottle, if that ever happens.

  • Brisket’s one of my favourite cuts, really delivering heaps of flavour and succulence after a long leisurely bath in a cast iron pot. Were I ever to invest in a sous vide machine, I’d imagine we’d be eating it even more often… Not that Himself would be complaining, you understand.

    • You need to sell a few more of those large outback covering quilts Kate and buy a sous vide machine.
      Best,
      C

      • First I need the larger house with the larger kitchen. Or perhaps you can explain to the Husband why I need to take over his man cave for my kitchen equipment…?

        • You are a weak woman Kate. You only have yourself to blame if you have let him occupy a man cave so early in your lives together. You have made your quilted bed, now lie on it!.
          Best as ever,
          Conor

          • Conor, his man cave is part of who he is. The fact that it is filled with my tools as well as his (and some of them considerably better than his..) give me proprietary rights, I feel, but in the interests of domestic harmony I give him free rein in there. Of course, I could always point out the improvements a sous vide machine would effect on my cooking….

          • Start pointing Kate. Start pointing…

  • Dragons back……..that it brilliant Conor! Where’d the wine go though?

    • Into the sauce or course. The rest of it went into the chef (also of course).

  • Genius freezing of the wine there! I’m ashamed to admit I’ve never even tasted brisket. I’ll just go into the corner and hang my head.

    • No! Go to the butcher and get hime to slice you a piece.

  • I wept a little at the frozen Grand Cru, but mopped up my tears with a very nice liquid Fleurie, which is underrated, if you ask me, which you didn’t, but who’s counting? My only experience of brisket thus far has been overpriced and depressingly tiny, so when I saw you had a kilo going here I nearly fell over. Tears and a fainting fit, Conor, not sure that’s what you had in mind with this post, but well done nevertheless.

    • The thin end of the brisket is usually used for stewing steak or mince (A butcher friend tells me.) So, to be able to convert it into something so tasty and tender is great fun. I’m with you on the Fleurie, as long as it’s a good ‘un. As with everything else, there are standards and standards!

  • Great idea, Connor and the brisket looks stonking good. I’ve just made some pastrami (haven’t tasted it yet) and the sous vide would be a great way to cook it after smoking.

    • I can’t wait to see that. It is a great idea. Another one for the list.

  • Dragons back. Very nice my friend – I love a good piece of brisket.
    I some times wonder if you would eat if you didn’t have a sous vide machine 🙂

    • “If” or “what”? I have a lovely steamed wild trout coming for the next post. I have a chili ready to post but it’s too friggin’ hot to do so and I have a couple of stews ready to roll. However, I do take your point. Perhaps I have gone overboard. But, what the hell!

  • Oh good lord, what a beautiful piece of meat cooked beautifully.

    • Thanks Nick. It worked rather well. I was very happy with it. Fillet texture with huge flavour on a shin beef budget. Happy days!

  • Love the “dragon’s back” name for this, Conor.
    I totally approve of everything here — the techniques employed and especially using Saint-Emilion Grand Cru for this. I have frozen wine to include in a sous-vide preparation before owning a chamber vacuum sealer, but it had never occured to me to use leftover wine that way. What a great idea. I bet that sauce was delicious, especially when paired with the same wine.

    • Yes, indeed the inescapable truth with the sauces and meat is that if one can manage to use the wine in the cooking, the cohesion of flavours in the final meal will be fantastic. I will be doing more of this.

  • I also ‘wept a little’ at you freezing a Grand Cru . . . and then spent time I did not have Googling how come an alcohol based liquid could be ‘frozen’ – apparently it can be but does retain ‘soft edges’ 🙂 !! Brisket not inexpensive here . . . just remembered I have not made pastrami awhile . . . with love and due respect that methinks will come first . . .

    • Thanks Eha. Yes, the wine certainly does have soft edges. I only ever freeze it if it stands no chance of being swallowed before going off. A nice pastrami is a great idea….

  • Howdy Conor! I’m from Texas, ya’ heah? While you did that sous-veeding thing on that nice piece o’ brisket (which sounded like a great idee-ah when you first told me), what the heck you be doing dumping wines and such all over it? Dry rub, mah friend, with lots an’ lots of BBQ sauce on the side after searing. LUV YA! 😉

    p.s. all kidding aside, I bet that was FANTASTIC! Just different from *ahem* Texas Beef Brisket. <3

    • Begob and Begorrah, now there’s a fine thing. A Texan no less, sayin’ to rub the beef. Sure wouldn’t ya’ cut your hands on the dragon humps.

      This one is Irish! Though I must try the dry rub approach and perhaps a bit of Texas smokin’.
      Best,
      C

  • Brilliant move on the wine! And what a fabulous dish. Though I don’t think I’d have the patience to wait for the sous vide. That takes a very long time!

    • Thanks Virginia. All one needs to do is put tomorrow’s dinner on today!

  • I like these culinary names you are coming up with – Jacobs Ladder, Dragon’s Back….I have a suggestion for a name. Devil’s Testicles. They are the name given by a Christian Fundamentalist group (the name of which escapes me) to chocolate easter eggs. Now I’m not suggesting you sous vide a chocolate easter egg but maybe something more…resilient; and call it Devil’s Testicles.

    • Devil’s testicles! What a brilliant term for the Easter eggs. I can just imagine what life is like in that household. Lots of self-flagellation and remorse for not chaining your ankles together before going to bed.

  • Conor
    How serendipitous, only yesterday I had a beef rump mini roast which I cooked in a broadly similar fashion although minus the frozen wine. Being a more tender cut and also a lot smaller I gave it 8 hours at 53C then 10 mins total on the barbie. Served on fresh hot chapatti with chimichurri. Bliss.

    • That sounds totally delicious. Thanks for telling me.

  • awesome sous vide beef brisket, this frozen wine trick is totally tempting to try!!!

    • Thanks Dedy. It is simple for a cook of your great talent.

  • I love my vacuum sealer, Conor…however, where I am brisket is not inexpensive, (but it’s still tough!)

    • Shocking. It’s the bottom of the price ladder over here. It makes for delicious sous vide fare, for sure.

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