Many thanks to Alan, our guest blogger, for this delightful rendition of his recent experience with one of our small briskets. He breaks down his preparation methods and shares his and his family's review- spoiler alert: he raves JUST a little bit. And as the rancher's apprentice, I can't help but rave about our beef with him! I'm learning the ropes from true artisans- and Alan has just found out exactly what that means. Follow him on Instagram (@an_oregon_family) for more photos on his many grills and cooks!
This is a story of conversion.
If you’ve attended church at all in your life you have a certain understanding, or expectation, for what “church” is like. In some towns you can find a church on almost every other corner. You see those churches—regardless of denomination—and say to yourself “I know what it feels like in there, I know what to expect.” However, if you’ve ever found a CHURCH, then you know what a rich, dynamic, fulfilling experience it can be. How...expanding.
There is a definite difference. If you know, then you know.
I now know the same can be said for meat, specifically, beef.
I have purchased beef from a variety of places, probably the same type of places most folks shop...Fred Meyer, Safeway, Winco, Cash & Carry. My beef shopping choice du jour has generally revolved around which store also happened to have milk on sale, or a great deal on eggs, or cheese, or...you fill in the blank. Basically, my beef shopping choices were all based on things that had very little to do with beef, or the quality of that beef.
Here’s why. Regardless of store, my beef experience was basically the same. It was about price, and it was simply an alternative to pork, or chicken, or turkey. The taste was fine, it was ok. Bottomline: I knew what to expect. Or I thought I did.
Then something changed for me. I found BEEF. Clear Creek Beef.
Through the magic of social media and Instagram, I came across Clear Creek Beef, and Sheen, the Rancher’s Apprentice. The Clear Creek story and their mission resonated deeply with me. I am #bornandraised an Oregonian, and I love this state, and the pacific Northwest. The diversity here—people, geography, business—combine to draw out an innovative, pioneer creativity that is uniquely Oregon. I find myself drawn to that which is uniquely Oregon; it both grounds and inspires me. Clear Creek Beef fits this description perfectly. Long story short, I soon found myself on the receiving end of a beautiful 3-pound brisket.
I was excited holding this cut, and a little nervous, too. Brisket is almost mythological in its meat status, so when my thoughts turned to the upcoming cook, I knew that I had to do justice to the steer that surrendered this special cut of beef. In my opinion, that meant letting the beef flavor shine through, and that meant it was going on my Traeger Bronson grill.
If you’ve ever had low and slow smoked brisket you know how awesome it can be. With a beautiful Clear Creek brisket in hand I knew that I wanted to focus on simplicity to allow that pasture-raised beef flavor to shine. After a review of options, I decided upon going “Texas style,” a guarantee for big beef flavor that almost melts in your mouth. Texas style means salt, pepper, smoke, and time. That’s it—simple, straight forward...perfect for me.
The day before I planned to grill, I prepared to trim up the brisket by giving my best boning knife a few extra passes on the sharpening stone.
FYI: Frankly, trimming is what made me the most nervous with this cook. If you’ve never trimmed a full brisket before I’d definitely recommend reviewing some of the how-to videos or articles available on the Internet before you feel like you understand what and how to trim. Personally, I’m a big fan of Aaron Franklin (@franklinbbq), Susie Bulloch (@heygrillhey), and Danielle Bennett(@divaqbbq) for their passion and approach to brisket and grilling.
Now, we all know that fat equals flavor. However, the visible fat deposits and silver skin on briskets don’t really render down, and they certainly won’t provide any added flavor benefit, so I felt confident that I could trim away! Besides, it’s the marbling that truly makes the beef sing, and my Clear Creek brisket had marbling to die for!
After steeling my nerves with a second cup of black coffee, I set to my task. Ten minutes later I had removed about 8 oz of fat and separated the “flat” from the “point.” My Clear Creek brisket was now divided into two nice slabs of beef ready for seasoning—my favorite part.
I had any number of beef-centric rubs and seasoning blends available to me, but I wanted to taste BEEF, not seasoning. For me, the decision was clear: simple Texas style seasoning--coarse salt and black pepper. I prefer to blend my salt and pepper before applying them to the meat, so I measured out equal parts of each (about 2 tablespoons each) and combined them in a spice shaker container. After applying a light coating of olive oil as a “binder” I shook the spices over the meat, creating a nice even layer across the entire surface of the flat and the point. Oh, let me tell you, it looked so good; I could picture the bark forming already. I may have even drooled a bit.
With the seasoning applied, I covered the brisket with plastic wrap and placed it in the refrigerator, letting it rest for about 20 hours. Yard work, family activities, and more yard work filled the rest of my day, capped by a Traeger-grilled cast iron pan pizza for dinner. At day’s end the beef was prepped, my yard looked good, the family was fed and happy, and I was fully ready for brisket glory!
The next morning it was time to start the cook! Pulling the brisket from the fridge so it could raise to room temperature, I fired up my Traeger Bronson on a blend of hickory, maple, and cherry pellets, setting it to 250 degrees to allow the smoky goodness to really bathe the brisket. My goal was to get consistent heat and a steady flow of smoke over the meat as it slowly cooked. I was not in a rush.
Going low and slow with a brisket means that you are cooking based off of meat temperature, not time. I was seeking an internal temperature of 165 degrees, so I inserted my digital meat thermometer and closed the lid.
165 degrees arrived after about three hours in the smoke, and I wrapped both pieces of meat in peach butcher paper. This is a crucial step as it helps ensure that the brisket is mouth-wateringly tender, with a super dark bark crust. I placed the brisket packs back in the Traeger and raised the temperature to 275 to finish off the cook, looking for an internal temperature of 203. The smoke continued to roll, and I enjoyed a glass of pre-brisket red wine with my wife in the spring Oregon sunshine.
After a full glass (or two), 203 degrees arrived and I pulled the meat from the grill. I have to say, I was tempted to dig right in—my hunger, combined with the grilling aroma (and the wine) were making me dizzy with anticipation. However, I resisted temptation, hearkening back to Susie Bulloch’s advice:
“Rest your smoked brisket. DO. NOT. SKIP. THIS. STEP. Resting your brisket allows so many of those hot and bubbly juices to settle down a little and redistribute to the meat. It also brings your brisket down to perfect slicing and serving temperature.”
Advice heeded, I wrapped the brisket packets in a clean, old towel and placed them in my cooler for the requisite resting period.
Heading indoors, I prepped green salads for the family and put the finishing touches on a quartet of cheesy twice baked potatoes, coating them in way too much melted shredded Tillamook cheese. With the table set, the family pressing me for dinner, and a reasonable brisket rest period (40 minutes) it was time to slice and eat!
And now, the conversion starts...
Buttery. Break apart tender. Beefy. Rich. Juicy delicious. So good.
There are not enough adjectives to fully capture the tastiness, the tenderness, the richness of this meat. No knives were used at the table. Not a scrap of beef was left on a plate, no fat trimmings pushed to the side. It was not until the brisket was gone did anyone even start in on their potatoes or salads. There were no leftovers. There were many smiles.
Brisket is indeed the stuff of myth, and the Clear Creek brisket we enjoyed only added to the legend.
I thought I knew what to expect from beef, but that was before I had experienced BEEF. Pasture-raised, hand-finished. Clear Creek Beef.
Our brisket dinner was a rich, vibrant, fulfilling dining experience.
There is a definite difference. If you know, then you know, and you want more.
You can probably tell by his IG name and logo that Oregon holds a special place for Alan. As a native Oregonian currently living in the Portland area, Alan appreciates the beauty and splendor found in all four corners of the state and finds the Pacific Northwest essence uplifting and enriching.
This inspiration has led Alan to grill and cook in a way that he hopes fills his growing family’s tummies and spirit. Alan strives to use local ingredients whenever possible, believing that they are fresher, healthier, and make his meals better, and more enjoyable.
Inspired by authenticity and passion, Alan believes that quality product made by passionate folks doesn’t just connect you to great stuff, it connects you to great people.
Alan blogs about his cooks on Instagram, and can be found @an_oregon_family. He longs for days of wide open skies, snow-capped mountain ranges, and endless opportunities.