Smoking a brisket is both a simple endeavour and a stressful one. You don’t want to overcook the brisket, or cook it at too high a temperature, as it can easily become dry and tough. However, there are a couple of tricks you can use to ensure a moist and tender brisket, rich with the flavour of smoke and spices. One is to brine the brisket for at least a day before cooking. I just submerge the brisket in a brine, while others will go to the trouble of injecting the brisket, much like you would with a ham. I suppose it depends on how much energy you have, or if you had an injection pump. I don’t. The other “trick” is something called the “Texas Crutch”, which is basically wrapping the brisket in heavy duty foil (or sometimes butcher paper) to allow the brisket to steam while it finishes cooking. At the end of the day, if you utilize both of these methods, and cook the brisket at an even low temperature, you will be rewarded with a delicious, meltingly tender, smoky slab of meat.
Note: You need to start this recipe two days before cooking. For the BBQ Spice, you can use your favorite brand. We make our own all purpose one at the shop; see recipe below.
Serves 6 to 8
½ cup sugar
½ cup salt
3 tbsp pickling spice
2 L water
5-6 lbs brisket (I prefer the fatty end, or “point”, but the leaner side, or “flat” is nice too)
1 cup BBQ dry spice rub (see recipe below)
- TWO DAYS BEFORE COOKING: In a large stainless steel pot over a high heat, mix the sugar, salt, and pickling spices with the water. Bring to a boil to dissolve the salt and sugar, then take off the heat. Once the water is cool to the touch, submerge the brisket in the brine so it is totally covered. Place the pot in the fridge overnight.
- The next day, remove the brisket from the brine and pat dry. Discard the brine. Place the brisket in a non-reactive (glass or stainless steel) pan, and season it liberally with the BBQ dry spice mix. Cover and place back in the fridge to marinate overnight.
- The next day, prepare your BBQ. Soak four to five cups of wood chips in water for 30 minutes. If using a propane or gas grill with a smoke box, light only one burner and preheat the grill to 250°F to 275°F. Place a handful of the soaked wood chips in the smoke box and put the box on top of the one lit burner until it starts smouldering. If using a charcoal grill, light the coals and pile them on one side of the grill. Close the lid and adjust the intake and exhaust damper to get the temperature to around 250°F to 275°F, then sprinkle a handful of soaked wood chips on the coal to begin the smouldering.
- Place the brisket on the indirect heat side of your BBQ, and close the lid. Maintain the temperature and smoke (adding woodchips and/or charcoal as needed) throughout the duration of the cooking process. After two hours, flip the brisket over. After another two hours, take the brisket out of the BBQ and wrap it in heavy-duty aluminum foil so it is completely wrapped. Place it back on the BBQ, close the lid, and continue cooking for another 1.5 to 2 hours, or until the internal temperature of the brisket reaches around 190°F, and feels soft to the poke of a fork.
- Remove the brisket from the BBQ and let it rest in the foil for 45 minutes before unwrapping, slicing thinly across the grain, and serving. I like to serve brisket with seasonal boiled corn and potato salad.
BBQ Dry Spice Rub
2 cups kosher salt
1 cup sweet paprika
3 tbsp onion powder
3 tbsp garlic powder
2 tsp rubbed dry thyme
4 tsp dry rosemary
1 tbsp ground black pepper
Mix all the ingredients well in a large mixing bowl. Store in an air-tight container for up to two months.
- Pour the bone broth into a sauce pot and add the star anise, peppercorns, bay leaves, and the chicken legs. Bring to a light simmer over a low heat. Add the celery, cover, and poach at a very low heat until the chicken legs are cooked through (about 40 minutes). To know when the chicken is cooked, use an internal thermometer plunged into the thickest part of the leg until it reads 165°F. Remove the chicken and celery and set aside.
- While the chicken is poaching, rinse the rice under cold water to remove the excess starch. Soak the rice in cold water until the chicken is cooked.
- After the chicken and celery are cooked and set aside, strain the broth, then measure and pour 2 cups back into the same pot. Quarter the celery lengthwise and place in a small bowl. Pour any excess broth over the celery and place the bowl on your stovetop (off the heat) to keep it warm until serving time.
- Strain the rice and add to the pot with the broth. Bring to boil over a medium heat, then lower the heat to a bare simmer, cover, and cook for 20 minutes, or until the rice is fully cooked and has absorbed the broth. Take off the heat and let sit for an additional ten minutes.
- Preheat the broiler to high.
- Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place the chicken legs, skin side up, on the sheet. Place it under the broiler until the skin is golden brown (about one minute or two).
- To serve, place a scoop of rice into four shallow bowls or plates. Take the celery out of the broth and set on the rice, then place the browned leg next to the celery. Pour a tablespoon or two of the broth from the celery bowl over the chicken leg. Season with salt and pepper if desired, then sprinkle 1 tbsp of the blue cheese and green onions over each dish. Serve immediately.
- Season the steak liberally with salt and pepper, then lay it in a shallow dish with the smashed garlic and thyme. Marinate for 30 minutes while your grill is getting hot.
- Prepare your grill so that one half has a high-heat flame and the other half is unlit. If using a charcoal grill, combine your hot coals in either a small pile on one side of the grill, or better yet use a charcoal box that fits under the grill, and set it only on one side of the grill. If using a propane grill, only light one element and set it to high. Close the lid to preheat the whole grilling area.
- Set the marinated steak on the cool side of the grill and leave the lid open. The steak will slowly get warm – this process can take up to an hour or more, depending on a few variables (thickness of steak, type of grill, etc). Keep your eyes on the steak, flipping occasionally. Use an internal thermometer to check the internal temperature. When it’s five to ten degrees lower than the desired temperature, remove the steak from the grill.
- While the steak is cooking, make the salsa verde. Place all of the ingredients except the shallot in a food processor and puree until emulsified. Stir in the shallot and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
- Make sure the grill’s “hot side” is screaming hot before searing the steak right on top of the fire. Grill for one to two minutes per side to caramelize the exterior, then remove the steak and rest the meat for five minutes.
- When the steak has rested, slice it and place on a serving platter with the salsa verde in a small bowl on the side.
- Using the “High” “Sauté” function on the Instant Pot heat the 2 tbsp of olive oil. Season the chicken legs with salt and sear in the oil until lightly golden all over. 5-6 minutes. Remove the chicken legs to a plate.
- Reduce the “Sauté” to “Low” and add the butter, onions, garlic, bay leaf and ginger with a pinch of salt. Sauté lightly until the onions are translucent and everything is aromatic. 5-7 minutes. Add the ras el hanout, cinnamon, cumin, pepper and sauté 1 more minute. Turn the “Sauté” function off.
- Add the saffron and its soaking water. Return the chicken to the pot and pour in the ½ cup of water. Lock the lid of the Instant Pot in place and set it to cook 25 minutes under low pressure. Once the cooking timer has gone off, allow everything to cool and the pressure to release itself by just leaving it alone for a further 30 minutes. This process will take about an hour start to finish; just let the instant Pot do all the work.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to the boil, add a pinch of salt and blanch your kale for 2-3 minutes until just tender. Remove from the water and let cool. Squeeze all the excess liquid from the kale, really squeeze it, forming a tight ball. Finely chop the kale and save it for later.
- Once you’ve let the pressure release naturally from the Instant Pot (at least 20 minutes after the cooking is done) remove the lid and lift the chicken legs out of the pot. Allow them to cool enough to handle. Just leave everything else in the pot.
- While they are cooling, peel and grate your potato. Don’t do this in advance as the potato will oxidize quickly. I just grate the potato on a classic cheese grater…. nothing fancy.
- Add the grated potato, tomato, apricot and pistachios to the spiced onion-y liquid in the instant pot. Turn the ”Sauté” function back on “Low” and bring everything to a simmer. Check the seasoning and add a little salt if required. Simmer for 15-20 minutes. The potatoes will dissolve and thicken everything up. Stir from time to time to prevent the bottom from burning.
- Pick the chicken off the bone, discard the bones and skins (or save for bone broth)
- Once the sauce has thickened up nicely, turn the heat off and fold in the honey, followed by the chicken and kale. Adjust the seasoning if required and balance it with a little bit of lime juice to taste. Transfer to a container and refrigerate overnight to allow the flavours to develop.
- The next day, remove the phyllo pastry from the fridge and reserve between two damp towels while you’re working with it. You can make small individual pies if you like and have small ring moulds or pie plates (disposable plates work). I made 1 large pie in a 9” spring-form pan. The spring form makes it easier to remove after but isn’t necessary. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Brush your pie plate or mould with olive oil. Brush 1 sheet of phyllo with oil and lay it so that the oiled side is down and covers the entire bottom and then drape it over one side (see photos below). Brush the side facing up with oil too. Lay another sheet over the bottom and offset the remainder of the sheet draping over the side next to the first. Brush the top side of this sheet with oil too.
- Continue to lay sheets in this manner going around the mould until you have created a star pattern with the phyllo and all the sides are covered with lots of phyllo draped to cover over the top too. The base should be layered about 6 sheets.
- Fill the pie with the chilled filling. Now start to drape the overhang from each sheet over the top of the pie, brush each with olive oil after you lay it over the top. You should have enough overhang to easily enclose all the filling and make a top layer about 6 layers deep as well, if you need to you can add another sheet or two on top to cover……. This is difficult to explain in words, but not actually difficult. See the attached photos or YouTube “Making a Pastilla” for clarity if required.
- Once the pie is fully enclosed, transfer to the preheated oven and bake until the pie is crisp and golden. Approx. 35 - 40 minutes.
- Let the pie cool about 5-10 minutes then transfer from the mould by flipping it out onto a plate or opening the springform. Garnish with chopped pistachios and loomi. Let cool at least 30 more minutes before serving. It will stay crisp for 3-4 hours. If you want you can pop it back into a 350°F oven for 5-10 minutes before serving and it will crisp right back up.
- In a small bowl, soak the dried figs in the Madeira for 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 325°F.
- In a work bowl, mix the ground pork with 2 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper, the clove, nutmeg, and white wine. Mix well. Using a slotted spoon, remove half of the figs from the Madeira and mix them into the pork. Reserve the rest of the figs in Madeira.
- Form the ground pork into a football shape, then stuff it into the cavity of the glove-boned chicken. Fold the drumsticks in an “x” around the back of the bird, then loop and tie a piece of twine around the equator of the chicken to truss it.
- Place the stuffed chicken breast up on an elevated rack on a roasting pan. Season well with salt and pepper, then smear the 3 tbsp of soft butter all over the bird. Add the thyme and the liter of chicken stock into the roasting pan, then cover with tin foil. Place in the hot oven and roast for three hours, or until an internal thermometer reads 155°F. Take the roasting pan out of the oven.
- Turn the oven up to 400°F. Remove the foil from the pan, and using a spoon or ladle remove and reserve the roasting juices. When the oven is hot, place the chicken back in and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, or until an internal thermometer plunged into the center of the chicken reads 165°F, and the chicken is golden brown all over. Remove and rest for ten minutes, covered.
- Meanwhile, make the sauce. In a small pot over a medium heat, bring the remaining figs and Madeira to a simmer. Reduce by ¼, then add the roasting juices from the chicken. Bring to a simmer and taste for seasoning, adjusting with salt, pepper, and a squeeze of lemon juice for brightness.
- Whisk the cornstarch and water together to make a slurry, then whisk it into the fig sauce to thicken. Reduce until the sauce coats the back of a spoon. Pour the sauce into a gravy boat.
- To serve, first carve the chicken. Cut away the drumsticks and the chicken wings, then slice the bird in ¼ inch slices. Arrange artfully on a platter and serve the sauce on the side.
- With a sharp knife, score the duck breasts – skin side only - in a cross-hatch patten. Season them with salt and pepper
- Lay the duck breast, skin side down, in a room temperature large pan. Place the pan on a medium heat and cook the breasts, skin down, for about ten minutes, or until the fat has rendered and the skin is golden brown. Flip the breasts and cook on the meat side for an additional 4 minutes, or until an internal thermometer inserted into the center of the breasts reads 135°F (for medium). Remove the duck from the pan and rest, covered to stay warm.
- Meanwhile, start the sauce. In a sauce pot over a medium high heat, melt the tablespoon of duck fat. Add the shallot and garlic to the pot and stir well with a wooden spoon. Cook for three minutes or until the shallots start to caramelize. Deglaze with the port, then add the orange strip, thyme, and bay leaf. Simmer for one minute before adding the beef stock, blueberries, and balsamic vinegar. Continue simmering for another four or five minutes, until the blueberries have burst and the sauce has slightly thickened.
- At this point the duck breasts should be out of the pan. Drain the duck fat from the pan (save for another use), and place the pan back on the medium heat. Pour the contents of the blueberry sauce into the duck pan, and stir well to get all of the cooked duck bits into the sauce. Whisk the cornstarch and the cold water together, then whisk the slurry into the sauce to thicken. Simmer for another minute – the sauced should be able to coat the back of a spoon. Season to taste before taking the sauce off the heat. Remove and discard the herbs and orange peel. Add the tsp of butter and stir well to emulsify it into the sauce.
- Pour the sauce into a serving dish. Slice the duck breast, fan it out over the sauce, and serve.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- In a small bowl, combine the coriander seeds, cumin seeds and caraway seeds. Spread the spices on a sheet tray and toast in the oven for 1 to 2 minutes; you should faintly detect the scent of the spices. Remove the tray from the oven and set aside to cool. Add the paprika and chili flakes to the spice mix.
- Using a mortar and pestle (or, alternatively, a food processor), grind the garlic cloves until they become a paste, and then add the red bell pepper. Season with salt, and then add the spices and the 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil and blend well. When blended, transfer the harissa to a container and top with some additional olive oil. This will keep for 3 to 6 weeks, covered, in the refrigerator.
- In a large bowl, combine the yogurt, ginger, ground cumin, chili flakes, espelette pepper, harissa, olive oil and salt. Whisk until smooth and pour into a baking dish.
- Lay the chicken halves, skin-side up, in the yogurt mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a couple of hours to marinate. (You can make the marinade the day before and marinate overnight).
- Pre-heat oven to 400°F and line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or foil for easy clean-up. Place marinated chicken skin-side up, drizzle with a little olive oil and season with salt & pepper. Turn temperature down to 375°F.
- Roast the chicken until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thigh registers between 155°F and 160°F, 35 - 40 minutes.
This January 25, the gang at ASI Archeology will hold their 32nd annual Robert Burns Day office party and Sanagan’s is proud to be their Official Purveyor of the Haggis. Or is it Offal-icial Purveyor?
Our house-made haggis features offal from our Ontario lamb combined with oatmeal, onion, lard and seasoning in an all-natural beef bung. We are honoured to supply it to ASI and to you for your Robbie Burns celebrations.
Martin Cooper is the Senior Archeologist at ASI and the driving force, all these years, behind the party. One assumes he’s steeped in Scottish ancestry and goes around saying things like “ach” while playing golf in the rain.
“I’m actually Jewish. I have no Scottish blood at all”, he explains, with a laugh, from across the boardroom table at ASI’s office on Bathurst Street. “But when I was growing up, my backyard in North York faced onto the backyard of the Colonel of the 48th Highlanders and every summer he’d have the whole pipe band in the backyard”. Who could resist such an onslaught of Scottishness? While majoring in archeology at U of T Martin, a.k.a. Rabbi Burns, minored in Romantic Revivalist poetry, reading lots of the Ploughman Poet. So once he established the original ASI office above his father’s dental practice in the ancestral Kensington/Annex neighbourhood, it went without saying that they’d whoop it up Scottish style every Burn’s Day. “Even then we’d pipe in the haggis. The piper would have to tune up in the patients waiting room”.
Whatever your Burn’s Day party origin story may be, we can help with the haggis. Just call 416-534-9747 and place your order.