And May is National Hamburger Month. How can you go wrong? First, a favorite burger recipe, then one for brisket.
The Inside-Out Burger: If I’m making bacon cheeseburgers to bring to a barbecue, even if it’s on my back deck, instead of bringing a package of bacon and a package of cheese and a stack of burgers, I put all the ingredients inside the patties themselves. As the burgers cook, the fat from the bacon and the gooey cheese melt and combine with the burger meat to make a really tasty and moist burger.
2 lbs. ground beef
1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, cut into 1/4″ cubes
1/2 lb. bacon, cooked crisp, cooled and crumbled
avocado oil or pork fat
In a bowl, combine the beef, the cheese and the bacon, mixing well so that all the ingredients are evenly incorporated. Form the beef into 1/4 lb. patties. Refrigerate them until you’re ready to cook to firm them up.
Heat a cast iron skillet and add a drop of oil or pork fat. Place the burgers in the hot skillet to sear and sprinkle with the garlic salt. When browned, flip the burgers and place the skillet in a 350-degree oven to finish cooking.
Brisketta: There’s a wonderful Italian roasted meat dish called Porchetta (por-ketta). The classic version consists of a pork belly that is seasoned and then wrapped around a pork loin. The meat is tied, then roasted slowly for hours, basted with wine and the meat juices until the pork is cooked and the outside skin is crackly and crispy. Then it’s sliced like a log and served as a sandwich or a main dish.
I decided to use the same method of cooking for beef brisket, and I called it “Brisketta.”
I flipped the brisket fat-side-down on my cutting board and carefully sliced it down the middle horizontally to make two large–even thinner–slabs of meat. The bottom half, with the fatty side of the brisket, would eventually be my outside layer. The top half would be my inside layer.
I took the top half and slathered some of my seasonings on it. Then I rolled it tightly into a log. I slathered more of my seasonings onto the bottom half of the brisket, then rolled it around the first log, so that the fattiest side of the brisket would now be on the outside of this large meat log. I tied the meat log up tightly with butchers’ twine and let it rest in my fridge overnight.
7 lbs. beef brisket
1 tablespoon fennel seed, toasted and cooled
5–3″ strips of bacon, cooked and cooled
2 tablespoons oregano
2 tablespoons parsley
2 teaspoons basil
2 tablespoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons granulated onion
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
Grated zest of 2 lemons
1/2 cup olive oil
Pour the fennel seed in a hot, dry pan on the stove. Toast the seeds until they release their aroma, but don’t let them burn. Set aside to cool.
Crumble the bacon strips and place in the bowl of a food processor. Add the cooled fennel seeds, oregano, parsley, basil, salt, pepper, onion, garlic, and lemon zest.
Run the food processor and slowly pour in the olive oil, until you have a paste much like pesto.
Slice the brisket in half horizontally. Save the piece with the fatty side for last, because this is the piece that will wrap around the others, with the fatty side out. Smear the rub on the first piece of brisket and roll it tightly into a log. Smear the rub on the second piece of brisket and wrap it around the first piece, making sure the fatty side is on the outside.
Once you’ve rolled both pieces into a single meat log, scored the fatty exterior with a knife and rub any leftover seasoning paste onto it. If you have none left, simply season with salt and pepper.
Tie the meat log tightly with butchers’ twine, tucking in all loose ends.
At this point, you can place the meat log in the fridge until ready to cook, remembering to remove it at least an hour before cooking so that it comes back to room temperature.
Pre-heat an oven or smoker at 250 degrees. Place the meat log directly on the grate, with a pan underneath to catch the dripping fat. Place a bowl of water in there as well, to keep the meat moist while it cooks. Cook for 4 1/2 hours, or until the interior temperature reaches 130 degrees. Let it rest an hour before slicing…if you can wait that long!