I have been very eager to cook a beef brisket with my sous vide setup. Above is a nice whole beef brisket in a vacuum cryo pack. It is USDA Choice grade so it is nice piece of meat. I picked out a package with a nice white hard fat cap. Animals which were grain fed before slaughter are said to have the harder white fat cap.
Price was good at $1.99 a pound. In other parts of the country where brisket is more popular it can be found for less. Weighing in at 14 pounds, this package will feed quite a few people. Being just me eating, it will last quite a few meals.
Here is the whole cut of meat out of the cryo packaging. The thick white fat cap is facing down towards the cutting board.
In this case I am only cooking the “the point” of the brisket. This is the longer flat section of the brisket. There is a very nice 1/2 inch fat cap on the surface of the meat, this will provide nice juices and flavor to the meat. The left over roast are cut into two sections for shredded beef at a later date.
The fat cap is scored in a diamond cross hatch pattern and placed into my Masterbuilt Electric Smoker. If you don’t have a smoker, this is the smoker to get. Simple to use and makes great meat.
The meat is smoked at 140F for 2 hours using hickory and apple wood chips. One hour of hickory and one hour of apple. This does not cook the meat, but adds a nice smoky flavor it would lack if cooked with sous vide alone. Wood chips were added throughout the 2 hour smoke to keep a consistent wispy flow of smoke out the exhaust vent. A heavy smoke will add a bitter flavor to the meat.
After the two hour smoke, the meat has a nice golden brown color. There is minimal dripping from the meat in the bottom of the smoker.
The meat is seasoned on both sides with a very simple rub of garlic salt, pepper and paprika. When I cook meat, I tend to go with simple rubs and marinades.
The seasoned meat is sealed in a large vacuum package.
The cuts in the fat cap can still be seen from the outside of the packaging and all of the air has been removed. If you are unable to remove all of the air, it will be necessary to weigh the brisket down in the water bath to avoid floating meat.
The meat is cooked at 145F for 48 hours in my homemade Arduino OSSV (Open Source Sous Vide) setup. My circuit is still laid out on the breadboard. I have custom PCB’s on order which will replace all of the breadboards and jumper wires seen in the photo.
The temperature of 145F and cooking time of 48 hours apparently comes from the French Laundry restaurant. This is by far the longest cooking time I have ever performed on a piece of meat.
Two full days later, the meat is ready to be pulled out of the sous vide water bath. This is the longest I have continuously run the OSSV software, which remained stable for the full 48 hours.
There is a lot of liquid in the vacuum bag after a 48 hour cook. I saved the liquid to try to make a gravy for the meat, which failed. It tasted great but ended up with lots of starch and flour chunks. If you have any tips, please leave them in the comments section below.
Out of the vacuum bag, the meat is redder and more appealing than normal sous vide cooked steak.
Never the less, it still gets a once over with my trusty blowtorch, providing the characteristic brown and charred look.
The meat is brown all the way through. This is due to the 48 hour cooking time. The nice half inch fat cap, provides very nice flavor to the meat.
The meat is fork tender and has the perfect amount of smokiness. The rub provides a nice amount of flavoring to the outside of the meat. This brisket must be sliced as it has not been cooked at a high enough temperature to be pulled, as some like to do with brisket. I was afraid it would get a post roast texture, but I think due to the lower cooking temperature, it maintained a nice consistency.
This was a great cook. Everyone should try cooking a piece of meat for 48 hours. I would definitely do it again for a dinner party. If nothing else, the 48 hour cooking time will be interesting to talk about around the dinner table. As I did not have a dinner party, I had several pounds of leftovers which were consumed the subsequent week. The meat was just a good after being heated slightly days later.
Final Score: 8 out of 10