Thursday, July 14, 2011

Barbecued Brisket Sandwiches and Cucumber Ribbon Salad

This week has been so busy that I decided to utilize my slow cooker to ensure that dinner would be ready on time. With vacation bible school taking up our mornings and swim lessons taking up our evenings (and playdates in between), we've been out the door by 8:30 a.m. and have returned around 6 p.m. every night. I put this barbecue recipe together in the crockpot late on Monday night and placed it in the fridge for the next day. On Tuesday morning, I removed the crockpot from the fridge and set it on the lowest setting before we departed for a fun-filled summer day. When we arrived home on Tuesday night, the brisket was perfectly cooked and bubbling away in the delicious barbecue sauce. I quickly shredded the beef and threw together an easy zucchini salad and we had dinner in minutes!

Here's how the barbecue came together:

First, I combined all of the sauce ingredients in the crockpot. This is a chopped onion, minced garlic, ketchup, vinegar, beer, liquid smoke, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, chili powder, paprika, oregano, and brown sugar. Stir the ingredients together until combined.

A couple of days before, I began thawing a big chunk of beef brisket in the fridge.

From Wikipedia:

"Brisket is a cut of meat from the breast or lower chest of beef or veal. The beef brisket is one of the eight beef primal cuts. The brisket muscles include the superficial and deep pectorals. As cattle do not have collar bones, these muscles support about 60% of the body weight of standing/moving cattle. This requires a significant amount of connective tissue, so the resulting meat must be cooked correctly to tenderize the connective tissue."

In my opinion, brisket is best prepared over low and slow heat. My preferred method is the crockpot. Because of the way it shreds up for sandwiches, the brisket happens to be one of my favorite cuts for barbecue.

I got this 5-6 lb. brisket from one of the steers my grandpa raises. It was a big piece of meat!

As I trimmed off much of the fat, I began to sympathize with the poor cave women like Wilma Flintstone. This is how she must've felt trimming up Fred's enormous Brontosaurus steaks. ; )

After trimming off as much of the external fat as possible, I cut the brisket into three large chunks (mostly so that it would fit into my crockpot, but also to ensure even cooking) and covered it with the barbecue sauce. I refrigerated mine overnight at this point. If you've got the time, you could also just throw it all together in the morning and cook it right away.

After cooking all day, I removed the meat from the sauce and let it cool for a few minutes in a separate dish.

Then I shredded it.

You can use a couple of forks and shred the beef by poking them into the meat and pulling them apart in opposite directions. However, I prefer to use my hands. That way I can feel my way through the meat and remove any lingering bits of fat.

After shredding the beef, I put the finishing touches on the barbecue sauce. First, I stirred in a little cornstarch mixed with water to thicken the sauce a bit.

Then I used my immersion blender to puree the sauce for a smoother consistency. You can also use a blender or food processor for this step if you don't have an immersion blender. Or...get an immersion blender! I love mine. No need to worry about transfering the hot sauce from the crock pot to another appliance when you've got an immersion blender, you just stick the immersion blender in and tah-dah- smooth sauce in seconds! Best of all, you won't create more dirty dishes. Who wants to take apart and wash a blender? Invest in one of these instead: Cuisinart CSB-76BC SmartStick 200-Watt Immersion Hand Blender, Brushed ChromeHand Blenders) I use mine all of the time for soups, sauces, salad dressing, and smoothies. I love it!

With the beef shredded and the sauce finished, I bet that you can guess what's coming next. A reunion! Stir the shredded beef back into the sauce.

Now all you need is a bun! My family and I really enjoyed this recipe, which I found on
It's right up there with my favorite beef barbecue recipes. I still think that Slow Cooker Barbecued Short Ribs take the prize and I'll always be a fan of this tried and true Texas Beef Barbecue recipe. But I have yet to try them all side by side. In a blindfolded taste test I'm not sure which one I would pick....

I served the barbecue alongside this impressive Cucumber Ribbon Salad.

Isn't it pretty? You'd never guess that it came together in minutes. I purposely chose this recipe because it called for radishes. I'm not a huge radish fan, but I proudly harvested these radishes from my garden this week. They are the first crop to be ready for consumption. Yay! Of course I had to use them in a recipe. The radishes added that perfect "bite" to this fresh, tasty salad.

I quickly readied the veggies for this salad: cucumber, radish, and red onion. Note: I scooped the seeds from these cucumbers with a spoon.

I used a plain ol' vegetable peeler to thinly slice the radishes.

It created perfectly uniform, thin slices.

Then I chopped 1 cucumber into chunks.

I used the veggie peeler to slice the second cucumber into ribbons. I purchased these cucumbers at the grocery, but tonight I counted 14 cukes growing on the vine of my garden cucumber plant (and it's not done growing yet!). Soon, I'll be able to step into the backyard and gather all of the cucumbers I need for recipes like this.

Arrange the cucumber ribbons around the outside of your serving plate or bowl.

These look pretty and the peeling goes really fast! Not tricky at all!

The recipe also calls for tomato-basil feta cheese. Lucky me! It was on sale this week at our local supermarket.

Ohhhh, and kalamata olives. I got mine from the olive bar at the grocery. I cut them in half so that there was a bit of olive in almost every bite.

I stirred the chopped cucumber, sliced red onion, radishes, feta, and olives together with some Italian dressing.

Then I heaped the mixture in the center of the plate with the cucumber ribbons.

It was both pretty and delicious. The few simple ingredients packed a big flavor punch. We ate it with our barbecue sandwiches and then I put the leftovers in the fridge and took them to a picnic the next day. This salad was even better the second day!

Here's a closer look:

This was such a great dinner!

Here are the recipes:

Slow Cooked Barbecue Beer Beef from

1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup beer
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
4 drops liquid smoke flavoring
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 pounds beef brisket
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons water
16 potato buns, or as needed

1. Place the onion and garlic into a large slow cooker. Pour in the ketchup, beer, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and liquid smoke; set aside. Combine the salt, pepper, chili powder, paprika, oregano, and brown sugar until evenly blended. Rub the spice mixture all over the beef brisket. Place the brisket into the slow cooker. Sprinkle the remaining spice mixture over top.
2. Cover, and cook on Low until the beef is easily shredded with two forks, 10 to 12 hours.
3. Remove the beef from the slow cooker, and place into a large bowl. Ladle the fat from the remaining sauce in the slow cooker and discard. Pour about 2 cups of the sauce from the slow cooker into a saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Dissolve the cornstarch in the water, and stir into the simmering sauce. Cook and stir 5 to 10 minutes until the sauce has thickened. Meanwhile, shred the meat into small pieces using two forks.
4. Pour the thickened sauce and remaining sauce from the slow cooker into a blender, filling the pitcher no more than halfway full. Hold down the lid of the blender with a folded kitchen towel, and carefully start the blender, using a few quick pulses to get the soup moving before leaving it on to puree. Puree in batches until smooth and pour into a clean pot. Alternately, you can use a stick blender and puree the sauce right in the slow cooker.
5. Stir the shredded beef and pureed sauce together in the slow cooker. Use tongs to serve

*Because my brisket was 5 1/2 lbs, I increased the sauce recipe by 1-1/2.
*This recipe makes a good amount of barbecue. We had plenty for dinner, then I put a pound in the fridge to eat as leftovers and I froze about 3 pounds in two packages for later. It freezes well!

Easy Crisp Cucumber Salad from Kraft Foods and adapted by me

2 large cucumbers
8 radishes, thinly sliced
1/2 cup ATHENOS Crumbled Feta Cheese with Basil & Tomato
1/3 cup KRAFT Zesty Italian Dressing
1/3-1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved
1/2 of a red onion, thinly sliced

Make It

USE vegetable peeler to cut 1 cucumber into long thin ribbons.

Chop remaining cucumber into 1-inch cubes. Toss with remaining ingredients.

SPOON cucumber mixture onto center of platter; surround with cucumber ribbons.

Kraft Kitchens Tips
Prepare with KRAFT Light House Italian Dressing.
nutritional information per serving

Calories 100 Total fat 6 g Saturated fat 1.5 g Cholesterol 5 mg Sodium 300 mg Carbohydrate 9 g Dietary fiber 2 g Sugars 4 g Protein 3 g Vitamin A 6 %DV Vitamin C 10 %DV Calcium 6 %DV Iron 4 %DV


1 comment:

Kim said...

People laugh at me all the time but I seem to only use my slow cooker in the summertime. Seems like we are far more busy in the summer and I have less time to cook. Viva la slow cooker:)

The brisket looks great!

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