The time is upon us…the unofficial end of summer, Labor Day weekend. While I mourn the days at the beach, Milwaukee summer festivals and long days filled with sunshine I also am excited to fall into Autumn. The bountiful harvest of fall is just beginning to come to fruition. The days are a bit shorter and the call of the apple orchards and pumpkin patches can be heard if you listen closely. My family celebrates Labor Day with a good old fashioned cookout. You can’t go wrong with enjoying great weather, great friends and family and delicious food!
This year I am preparing a brisket. Brisket is a cut of meat from the breast or lower chest
of beef. The beef brisket is one of the nine beef primal cuts, though the precise definition of the cut differs internationally. Due to the location of this cut of meat from the cattle and the significant function of that muscle, the resulting meat must be cooked correctly to tenderize it. One way to tenderize is it to use a brine.
A brine is not the first thing that comes to mind when preparing a brisket. However, I have found that it significantly tenderizes the meat and makes for the extra "wow factor" in the final product. It is a salt and water solution used to enhance the flavor and tenderness of meats. What makes a brine different then a marinade? While both techniques impart flavor a marinade is a sauce with an acidic base (think wine, vinegar or lemon) typically working on only the outside of the meat. A Brine penetrates the protein allowing the cells to break down to provide for a juicier more flavorful product. Both play an important role in the kitchen. When feeding a crowd brining is a step that shouldn’t be skipped!
4 Cans Beer
1 C Kosher Salt
¾ C Brown Sugar
2 Yellow Onions, thinly sliced
1 Bulb Garlic, Cut in Half
3 Lemons Halved
4 Spring Thyme
5 Bay Leaves
1/4 C Peppercorns
Bring to a rolling boil so all the herbs and aromatics can release all their flavor (approx. 10 minutes). This mixture will be powerfully seasoned. To bring the temperature down and balance out the flavor- add 4#’s ice cubes and stir. Finally add the brisket to this brine allow to sit anywhere from 4 hours to overnight in the cooler. Once out of the brine, it is important to dry off the meat completely so there is no steam involved when it hits the heat. Generously season with dry rub (ours is Memphis style).
SMOKED BRISKET: Keep your smoker between 250 and 300 degrees (Applewood preferred). Smoke the brisket anywhere from 5-8 hours until the meat is tender, rest for 1 hr before slicing.
GRILLED BRISKET: Sear the brisket directly over medium coals about 20 minutes per side. After searing, allow approximately 1 hour of cooking time per pound. Slow cook the brisket over indirect heat at a low temperature of around 250 ˚F. Measure cooking temperatures in a closed pit or grill with an oven thermometer set near the brisket.
This Labor Day weekend is also the 115th Anniversary celebration of Harley-Davidson, a true Milwaukee legend. We are hosting a “Parade Party” on Sunday, September 2nd. A parade of over 1,000 Harley-Davidson motorcycles will rumble directly in from of the Ambassador Hotel along Wisconsin Avenue. Join us to watch the spectacle of beauty and brawn as customized motorcycles and show bikes from around the world thunder through downtown Milwaukee. We will be serving smoked brisket sandwiches along with some other classic cookout favorites such as Milwaukee brats and burgers. We will have the smoker and grills fired up by 11am. Additionally, we will have a Bloody Mary bar available. The parade starts at Miller Park at 1pm. It should begin to pass the hotel around 1:20pm.
Please note that The Fitz, Gin Rickey and Deco Café will be open their regular hours and will be serving our full menus in addition to what we are offering at the Parade Cookout.