I haven't seen many requests recently for "Like a Brisket" tutorials from people who are thinking about cooking other pieces of meat like a brisket for the first time (See the Like A Brisket Roadmap
for more info which will help you understand how this process came to be known as "like a brisket"). There are a few brisket tutorials out there (like my own here
), but I thought a basic tutorial showing how to make a simple first time like-a-brisket would be nice to have. So I set out to make this here.
This basic like-a-brisket which I am talking about is a no-frills, just plain good and tasty piece of meat cooked like a brisket without all the fuss with explanations or reasonings for why things happen, such as stalls, evaporation, dryness, toughness, etc. I just leave it real basic here. These instructions might make a great piece of meat cooked like a brisket every time with basically zero chance of messing up (or maybe not), with absolutely no hard to understand directions that may cause lots of hard to answer questions to the first-time like-a-brisket maker. If this is your first ever like-a-brisket, and you simply want to know how to make a good like-a-brisket right now, this could very well be for you.
The first time someone sets out to make like-a-brisket they have a ton of questions. What is meat, what is the difference between fat and connective tissue, what causes the stall, do I foil, what woods do I use, what temp do I cook it at, why would I want to cook that like a brisket, etc. I do not intend to answer any of these questions, and in fact, I will shed light on none of them and dodge a couple others.
The first question I am not going to answer is, "What is a like-a-brisket?"
Below you will see a picture of a Round Sirloin Tip Roast from Sams Club still in the cryovac wrapper.
This piece of meat has muscles and stuff running through it, and is considered a lean and somewhat tender piece of meat. In fact, if you look up info on this meat, everyone will say it will be tough and dry if cooked past 160 degrees internal. That is unless you cook it like a brisket (as hard as that may seem to believe). It does have some fat deposits in various places, and connective tissue holding the whole thing together (otherwise it could not be a piece of meat), but nowhere near as much fat or connective tissue as in a brisket. Technically, all meat has connective tissues, and if you consider the accepted theory that cooking like a brisket breaks down these connective tissues to make a moist, tender product, then logically this piece of meat can also make a tender, juicy product if cooked like a brisket.
This particular piece of meat is USDA Choice as indicated by the stamp on the packaging. Choice like-a-briskets are a good choice if you want a good like-a-brisket. I always look for the best looking like-a-briskets meat-quality-wise first, and then the one that would be the most unexpected to be cooked like a brisket.
I removed the meat from the cryovac and applied a layered rub, the same rub as described in my brisket tutorial
thread. I put the rubbed like-a-brisket in a pan.
You do not have to put yours in a pan if you do not want to. I do not always use a pan when I cook like-a-brisket, so this is optional, and can be determined based on what you are trying to do at the time. One question I will not be answering is, "Why did you put it in a pan".
I put this on my WSM to cook at 270 degrees.
Three hours later, it looked like this.
Then I foiled it.
The next question I'm not going to answer is "Why did you foil it?". Some people foil their like-a-briskets because they claim it speeds up the cooking and avoids the dreaded stall. The next questions I am not going to answer are "what is the dreaded stall", "why does it happen", and "why is it so dreadful". Instead I am simply going to wrap the meat in foil, the same way wrapping my head in foil helps in other confusing sorts of situations.
The next question I'm not going to answer is "what the heck was that stuff you added to the meat along with the foil"? Sorry, but this stuff is ancient pitmaster knowledge that can only be learned with lots of experience. It might look like carrots and potatoes, but that is just an optical trick I learned to prevent people from shigging my secrets.
I let the like-a-brisket continue cooking in the foil until it was probe tender. I poked a hole in the top of the foil with my probe the first time I checked for tenderness. I used this same hole each time I checked for tenderness, going in at a few different angles to check the tenderness throughout the meat. This helped to keep the foil environment as sealed as possible without having to completely open it and refoil each time.
The next question I am not going to answer is "what temp was it done"? I have no idea what the temperature was, and frankly, I don't care. What I am interested in is having a tender, juicy like-a-brisket. So temperature does not matter. Tenderness does. It was done when my probe slid in like a hot knife through butter. Now, by chance, the probe I used was my Thermopen, and it did say 207.4 on that last probe, but again, I was not trying to actually take the temperature but instead was focusing on the tenderness. I also did not go by time, but by tenderness. I did happen to notice that it was done after 6 hours and 45 minutes, but that was not how I determined it was done.
I let the like-a-brisket rest uncovered for a bit to let the juices redistribute throughout the meat. The smell was wonderful, and smelled like a brisket. Not all like-a-briskets needs to smell like brisket, especially if they are not beef. This one did smell like a brisket however.
Then I sliced it. As you can tell, it was tender (it was somewhat fall-apart at the edges but not the center), juicy and delicious, just the way a perfectly prepared like-a-brisket should be.
So now, with this tutorial, you too can cook like-a-brisket. This method might just work for any cut of meat you can think of (or maybe not). Sure, there may be other ways to add complexity to the whole thing, but starting with the basics like this is the best way to start learning. This is a seemingly sure-fire way to make a good like-a-brisket (in theory at least). Now that you know this method, feel free to start experimenting with other methods you think could make the best like-a-brisket, until you settle on your own sure-fire method.