Not Barbecued BBQ Brisket

Heggies Brisket
The plans I had for this lump of brisket that had been languishing in the fridge, I tell you. Having made its way from the hills of Herefordshire via Heggies, a family run butchers based in Hereford (of all places) as part of a wider selection of meat to sample; this frugal joint had been tucked it away with the express notion of doing something different. Namely to make pastrami with it. I got the idea from DIY Food, which is a new cookbook for bearded, grizzly homosexuals in plaid, if you were to believe one poor confused and sexually repressed individual, and I followed all the plans that were laid out in the book. In other words, I bought some salt and some spices and some herbs. But I never really got around to the simple stage of putting them all together to make a brine to start the whole curing process. I could have done but this is the sort of project that needs forward thinking. Five or six days of turning the beef in the brine before coating with cracked pepper and coriander seed, a period of hot smoking and then a final blast of steaming in the oven before serving up in thick slices, warm on rye bread and with pickles. Unfortunately, in five or six days time I plan to be lying flat on my face in a field in Devon somewhere, having drunk vast quantities of industrial strength farmhouse cider at a very small festival. 

So with regards to this whole pastrami business, you could say that there has been a conflict of interest. I will pick up on this thread in the near future though, once I return from the West Country, as the prospect of fumigating lumps of meat sounds very appealing. I don't have a smoker per se but with a load of foil, Betty MKII and an upturned mop bucket, I reckon I could rig one up quite easily. After all it worked with beer can chicken.

Anyway, the brisket did not go to waste, which I am sure you are glad to hear. It got served up yesterday over at my folks house after a thorough basting in a pot for about 8 hours on a low heat in the oven. A cheats method maybe and one that might not deserve the label of BBQ but the shredded brisket went down very well. So in the spirit of generosity, I thought I would share it with you, so that it may be added to the pantheon of great barbecue recipes that involve not actually using a barbecue. 

It is also worth mentioning, especially since I got it for free, that the meat that came from Heggies was of exceptional quality. As you might expect from locally sourced beef with all the inclusions of breed, traceability, the farmer's name, his favourite tie, what he likes for his tea etc etc. With that level of care and attention, the meat is guaranteed to taste good. If it doesn't, then someone is pulling the wool over your eyes (or blinding you with his tie). However, Heggies obviously do take pride. The flavour of their 30 day old steaks testifies to that. 

Interestingly though, Mrs FU wasn't massively keen on the deep tang of the sirloin and was irked further when I suggested that her taste buds weren't up to the challenge. In return, she was quick to point out the idiot who cooed over the amazing bacon, which also came in the pack and which didn't leak white 'stuff'. Furthermore, she chided that in future, I should dig further into my pocket if I wanted something decent to go into between two doorsteps of thick white bread and there wasn't a lot I could say to that.

I think I will try and win her affections back when I try to make that pastrami though. Because Heggies' brisket is a lot cheaper per kilo than their bacon. And it's on the way back from Devon. Sort of.

Not Barbecued BBQ Brisket - serves 8

1.5 - 2kg of brisket, rolled and tied

2 red onions, chopped

2 celery sticks, chopped

4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 red pepper, chopped

100gms of cooking chorizo, chopped

3 tomatoes, chopped

1 Guajilo chilli, soaked in water if dried and chopped, seeds and all (I got my chilli from

50gms honey

50gms dark brown sugar

50mls cider vinegar

Good splash of Worcestershire sauce

Good splash of tomato sauce

A can of lager (I used Red Stripe)

1 tbs ground cumin

1 tbs mustard powder

Salt and pepper

4 tbs olive oil


Pre-heat the oven to 150C. Place a large saucepan on the hob and turn on the heat, add the oil and then add the onion, celery, garlic and pepper, bring the heat down and gently fry until everything softens and caramelises, for about 20 to 30 minutes. Turn the heat back up and then add the chorizo, chilli and tomatoes, sauteing for a couple of minutes, stirring everything around with a wooden spoon. Add the cumin and mustard and continue to stir for another minute then add the honey, dark brown sugar, tomato sauce, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and lager. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 15 minutes. Take off the heat and leave to cool for 5 minutes and then blitz in a blender or food processor and then season to taste (I like to put lots of cracked black pepper in).

Take a stock pot or casserole with a lid and place the brisket inside. Pour over the sauce mix to cover and place the lid on your chosen cooking receptacle and put into the oven. Return every half an hour or so, or when you can remember and turn the brisket in the sauce. Repeat for around 8 hours or until the brisket becomes very soft and tender.

Remove from the oven and take the brisket out of the sauce on a chopping board, cut the string and with two forks shred the brisket, starting at one end, pulling the fibres apart length ways into ribbons (should be quite easy). Then mix back into the sauce.

Serve in white buns or between slices of bread and add slice gherkins.

Placed on makeshift barbecue for food stylisation
(no actual barbecuing took place for the brisket but we did cook lots of other things, honest)
It's very niiiiiiiice


PDH said…
Looks ACE! Which festy you planning to be at???
Unknown said…
Hey, I grew up Hereford - good ol' Heggies! This looks unbelievable.
Unknown said…
i've just made a dish called Auntie Regina's beef that you must look out for... can't post it yet but it's very similar to this... though perhaps not quite as stunning... I bow to you x

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