Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Musical Geography Question for the Day

If a headless Norwegian aims a Thompson gun at you and blows you away, where does your body end up?

Blood on the Oregon Trail

Thanks for the Memory to Coalition of the Swilling via It Comes in Pints?

Those two US soldiers have been found murdered. One of them was an Oregonian, and you can hear a final voice mail he left his parents here.

My thoughts and prayers are with their families.

So Much For That Theory

Remember when I mentioned that The Lad had taken his first steps? Someone reassure me I'd catch his second. They were proven wrong yesterday.

I did, however, catch his subsequent steps. And while he's still wobbly, and only takes steps towards a safe prop, he has officially joind the biped crowd.

Chili Con Carnal

I was going to try once again to break out of my recipe blogging slump, and once again I have something to offer that's not quite a recipe, but at least this time it's mine.

This is more like a story -- the story of the journey of a raw, 13 pound piece of meat, to it's final destination in my belly as succulent, tender, barbecued brisket. Mr. Priapus was good enough to track down a recipe for me. Of course, this was only my point of departure. As most of you know, I like to take basic concepts and apply local Oregon flavors and ingredients to them. So what was to be expected?

To try to adapt the marinade recipe to local ingredients, I analyzed what each ingredient in the original brought to the table: Sweetness, acidity, etc. Based on that, I found a set of ingredients from around here which, when combined, provided similar functions but dofferent flavors. Here is what I used:

1/2 medium sweet yellow onion, sliced thin
2 Oregon Myrtlewood leaves
1 cup soy sauce
1 1/2 cups red wine
5 crushed garlic cloves
1/4 cup Worchestershire sauce
4 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 quarts cranberry juice
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup blackberry syrup
1/4 cup salt
1 6-pack Deschutes Brewery Obsidian Stout

And, of course, the 13-pound brisket. Now, normally, I get a little tired of the Texan obsession with size -- bigger doesn't necessarily mean better (case in point: Rosie O'Donnell and Kate Beckinsale. Compare and contrast, class). But in the case of brisket, they're right. A big, full-sized, untrimmed brisket has two things going for it: Lots of mass, which translates into better heat retention and thus better slow cooking; and lots of fat, which translates into better flavor.

Here's where a bit of old Oregon Trail Pioneer Ingenuity came into play, but unintentionally, and actually worked to my benefit. I didn't have a pot big enough for the brisket and the marinade, so I bought one of those plastic storage containers -- a 3 gallon sucker, like a shoebox on steroids -- and put the brisket in that. The marinade didn't come up over the brisket, so I let it marinate for 8 hours, then turned it over for another 8 on the other side. In the morning, the lid of the container made a perfect place to hold the brisket while I put the dry rub on the fat side, since my cutting board wouldn't... well, cut it.

The dry rub recipe sort of evolves, as I modify the contents of the jar each time IU take some out, but here are the main points:

1 part salt
3 parts sugar
garlic powder
onion powder
mustard powder
ground oregano
hot chili powder
smoked Hungarian paprika
ground sun-dried tomato mix

I used about 1 or 2 cups of this on the fat side of the brisket, then put it in the smoker. I placed a steel pan under it containing 2 cups of the marinade and all the onions and garlic from the marinade, as well as 1 shot each of bourbon, tequila, and Oregon apple brandy. I smoked it for five hours like that, then placed it in the pan with the marinade, liqour, and its own drippings, and smoked it for 3 hours like that, then removed it from the pan and finished with three more hours of smoking on the rack -- a total of 11 hours. While it was smoking, I made a pot of barbecued beans to go with it:

1 lb pinto beans, soaked overnight
6 pieces of bacon, chopped
3 oz piece of brisket fat, found in the package with the brisket and marinated along with it
1/4 cup blackberry syrup
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup unsulphured molasses
1/2 cup brisket marinade
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Oregon Myrtlewood leaf
1/4 tsp geound oregano
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp hot chili powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp salt
1 quart water

In a cast iron Dutch oven, I started cooking the bacon and brisket fat, then as they browned, added the onions and sauteed them with a pinch of the salt. Once they were caramelized, I deglazed with the brisket marinade, then added all the other ingredients. I brought hte entire thing to a boil, and let it boil for 10 minutes. Then I moved it out to the smoker, without a lid, to allow it to simmer for couple of hours exposed to the smoke. Finally, it was returned to the stove and covered with a lid to simmer the rest of the 5 hours I cooked the beans. The came out almost as delicions as the brisket, which was topped with my marionberry barbecue sauce:

1 cup marionberry syrup
2 15 oz cans tomato sauce, no salt added
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 habanero pepper
4 cloves fresh minced garlic
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp ground oregano
1 tsp ground rosemary
1 pinch driend mint flakes
1 tbsp yellow mustard
1 tsp Hungarian paprika
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 Oregon myrtlewood leaves
1 tsp ground cumin

Combine tomato sauce, syrup, vinegar, habanero, and salt in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Add the rest of the ingredients, reduce heat to low, simmer 3 hours or until habanero releases desired amount of heat. Remove and discard habanero, remove sauce from heat, and let cool.

All in all, a delicious meal. The next day, I decided I wanted chili. Actually, I had already decided on it, because I had an idea: usuallu good chili requires hours an hours of slow cooking, but since I already had the remainder of 13 pounds of slow cooked meat, why not? SOooooo....

Brisket Chili

1 cup barbecued brisket fat, trimmed from the meat and cubed
2 or 3 pounds (who measures? I just gessed) barbecued brosket meat, trimmed and cubed
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 12 oz bottles of beer (I used 1 24 oz bottle of Siletz Brewery Spruce Ale)
24-30 oz tomato sauce or puree
6-8 cloves minced garlic
1 tsp ground oregano
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp cayenne pepper powder
1 tsp hot chili powder
1 tbsp paprika
1 tsp mustard powder
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 shot tequila

In a Dutch oven, render the brisket fat over medium high heat, removing pieces once there is 1/4 inch of grease in the pot. Sautee the onions with a pinch of the salt. When they have caramelized, deglaze with 12 ounces of beer, drink the other 12. add brisket meat, tomato sauce, tequila, and all spices. Bring to a boil, boil for 10 minutes, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 3 hours, stirring occasionally.

Chili is another issue on which I agree with Texans: NO BEANS! Sadly, for all her positive qualities, TFR doesn't agree. But this time I put my foot down, and the results were delicious. The Lad devoured it like the little carnivore he's becoming. TFR took my compromise suggestion and added some of Saturday's barbecued beans to her chili *shudder*, and I ate mine as God intended. Everybody was happy -- very happy.