Grilling strategies to get deep flavor from big cuts of your holiday meat
While you can get a great coffee and beef flavor with almost any meat, Joachim says the pairing works particularly well with brisket because the cut boasts so much meaty, beefy flavor. (Bill Hogan/Chicago Tribune)
"You should think about grill-roasting because you can. The greatest invention in grilling is the lid,'' says David Joachim, co-author of "Fire It Up! More than 400 Recipes for Grilling Everything" published by Chronicle, with Andrew Schloss, a fellow Pennsylvanian, food writer and cookbook author.
Joachim is right. Grilling gives terrific flavor and can speedily cook small items of food. Big items, however, are problematic without a lid to trap the heat.
The grill essentially becomes an oven, he notes, allowing you to use indirect heat — cooking away from hot coals or gas jets — to cook the food slowly to a perfect doneness.
When it comes to big cuts, like beef brisket, pork shoulder or leg of lamb, you have to let them cook until they're fork-tender, Joachim says.
Little or no special equipment is needed: disposable aluminum pans to capture juices released while cooking (boil down to make a sauce) and a brush or baster with which to apply a flavorful mop (or grilling sauce) while the meat cooks. That's it.
In the recipe here, coffee is the surprising flavor agent for beef brisket. "It's such a powerful combination," says Joachim.
While you can get a great coffee and beef flavor with almost any meat cut, Joachim thinks the pairing works particularly well with brisket because the cut boasts so much meaty, beefy flavor. Coffee bolsters that flavor at each crucial step: a rub before grilling, a mop while cooking and a sauce for serving.
Gas or charcoal grill? Depends on you.
"Charcoal is not more difficult; it just takes a different kind of person," Joachim says. "If you drive a stick shift car, you probably will like charcoal more. If you're someone who just wants to turn a knob, gas is more convenient."
Espresso-powered barbecue brisket
Prep: 45 minutes
Chill: 8 hours
Cook: 4-6 hours
Note:This recipe is adapted from "Fire It Up!" by Andrew Schloss and David Joachim.
Juice of 2 lemons
2 cups strong brewed coffee, preferably espresso roast
1/4 cup molasses
2 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons coarse salt
3/4 cup espresso rub, see recipe
1 flat or center-cut beef brisket (3-4 pounds), trimmed, with 1/4-inch fat on one side
1 cup espresso grilling sauce, see recipe below
1. Mix lemon juice, coffee, molasses, balsamic vinegar, salt and 1 tablespoon espresso rub in a small bowl. Set this espresso mop aside. Rub the remaining espresso rub all over the brisket. Cover tightly with plastic wrap; refrigerate at least 8 hours.
2. Rest the meat at room temperature before grilling, about 1 hour. Prepare grill for indirect medium-low heat, about 250 degrees. Coat grate with oil.
3. Put the brisket, fatty-side up, on the grill away from the heat; cover the grill. Cook until severely browned and blackened in spots or very well-done (about 170 degrees on an instant read thermometer), 4 to 6 hours total. Mop or drizzle the brisket with the espresso mop on both sides whenever the surface looks dry, every 45 minutes during the entire cooking time.
4. After 2 hours of cooking, put the brisket in an aluminum foil pan, fatty side up; return brisket to the grill away from the heat. Cover the grill; continue cooking. You only need to mop the top, fatty side of the brisket once the meat is in the pan. If your grill has a temperature gauge, it should stay about 250 degrees during the entire cooking time. If using charcoal, add fresh coals about once an hour.
5. Remove the pan from the heat; let rest 20 minutes. Trim any excess fat; slice brisket across the grain. Serve with the grilling sauce.
Per serving: 368 calories, 25% of calories from fat, 10 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 97 mg cholesterol, 20 g carbohydrates, 47 g protein, 1,467 mg sodium, 1 g fiber.
In a bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons each finely ground dark-roast coffee, smoked paprika, dark brown sugar, coarse salt and ground black pepper; 1 tablespoon each ground ancho chili and finely grated lemon zest. Store in a tightly closed container in the refrigerator up to 1 week. Makes 3/4 cup.
Espresso grilling sauce:
In a saucepan, mix together 1 cup each brewed dark-roast coffee and ketchup; 1/4 cup dark brown mustard; 1/3 cup honey; 2 tablespoons citrus juice (lemon, orange or lime); 2 tablespoons hot pepper sauce; 2 teaspoons each ground black pepper and coarse salt. Heat to a boil. Lower heat; simmer until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Refrigerate in a tightly closed container up to 1 month. Makes 2 1/3 cups.