Barbecued beef brisket with mac and cheese. Photo: Marina Oliphant
American barbecue has become very popular lately. It is quite different to Aussie barbecue, but no less flavoursome. Different types of meat are cooked - pork butt is very popular, for instance. It is from the top of the shoulder, funnily enough, and is delicious when slow cooked.
Beef brisket is another popular cut for long, low-temperature cooking. You can rub it with a spice mix and cook it in the oven, then finish it over charcoal, as in this recipe. Or, put it in a barbecue with smoke chips and cook it for hours on a low temperature, basting and turning the meat. The result is the same - very moist, tasty meat.
Then there are the side dishes that are fantastic with meat cooked in this style. Collard greens, corn bread or macaroni and cheese are all incredible. This mac and cheese, as it is commonly known, is one of my favourites for a lazy cooking night. Just add a charcoal chicken from the local chicken shop and a few dressed green leaves and enjoy.
Barbecued beef brisket
A piece of brisket, about 5kg
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
500ml tomato sauce
100ml Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp malt vinegar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp Tabasco sauce
1 tsp chopped thyme
2 tbsp each chilli powder and mustard powder
1 tbsp each paprika, ground cumin, garlic powder, ground black pepper, castor sugar
1 bay leaf, crushed
To make the barbecue sauce, heat the oil in a frying pan, then cook onion and garlic for a few minutes until soft. Add the rest of the sauce ingredients to the pan with a good pinch of salt and simmer for 20 minutes. Use a hand blender or food processor to whiz it to a smooth puree.
Heat the oven to 150C. Make the rub by mixing all the ingredients with a pinch of salt. Rub the mix all over the beef and set aside.
In a large roasting tray, mix the barbecue sauce with two cups of water. Add the brisket to the tray, cover tightly with baking paper and then foil, then cook for four to five hours until the meat is really tender when you push a fork into it. The beef can be cooked the night before - just leave it to cool in the tin covered with foil.
To finish the beef, fire up a barbecue and wait until the coals have settled - you want a low, not fierce, heat. Lift the beef out of the roasting tin and place on the barbecue to char. If your barbecue has a lid, close it. Cook for about 20 minutes, turning the meat carefully with tongs, until lightly charred all over and heated through. Lift on to a board and serve sliced with the remaining barbecue sauce on the side.
Serves 6 or more.
When you place the brisket on your barbecue, try to move the coals to either side so they are not directly under the meat. This will avoid drying it out.
Mac and cheese
1 small brown onion, finely diced
4 rashers streaky bacon, diced
150g grated aged cheddar
350g grated gruyere
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp seeded Dijon mustard
1 tsp smoked paprika
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp chopped parsley
100g fresh sourdough breadcrumbs
Put the macaroni in a pot of boiling salted water and cook for eight-10 minutes, or until al dente. Drain and refresh in iced water, then drain again to remove excess water. Heat a little olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the diced onion and bacon and cook until golden. Remove and drain on a paper towel. Add the cream to the same pan, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Add the cheeses, garlic, mustard and paprika and simmer for fiveminutes, stirring, until the cheese has melted and sauce is thick. Season and add the macaroni, onion and bacon. Preheat the grill.
Place the macaroni mixture into one large gratin dish. Mix the breadcrumbs with a little oil. Sprinkle the parsley then the breadcrumbs over the mixture and grill until golden brown.