I messed with Texas and lost.  Even worse, I committed one of the biggest sins in Texas.   

Good friends here in Austin asked us to join a gourmet cooking group. After giving it some thought, we declined. We had been members of two previous gourmet cooking groups in Illinois and Nebraska, and each became an exercise in competitive, difficult cooking. So our friends regrouped and a few days later asked us if we would join a “non-gourmet” group. How could we say no to that?

At an organizational meeting my wife Ellen and I volunteered to host the first dinner. We decided that I would cook my very first brisket on our gas grill, smoked with mesquite wood chunks. The other couples would bring complementary, simple dishes.

As the grilling began, the grill on its lowest setting ran about 100 degrees hotter than briskets should be cooked. So I slathered on many coats of leftover marinade in part to cool the meat while cooking. I tried to look the part as indicated in the photo above.

As our guests arrived I brought in the brisket and began to slice it. At first I thought I was using the wrong side of the knife blade, but I wasn’t. The brisket was really tough. So I sliced it thin to ease the cutting on the dinner plates. Even though our guests were warned that the brisket was tougher than most, they sawed away on their brisket servings and ate slowly and seemingly happily. As I ate the brisket, I thought it was not only tough, but that it had an unusual, unpleasant taste to it. But everyone seemed to be having such a good time that I didn’t want to make any other negative remarks and detract from the group’s fun.

As the meal concluded, I remarked that my brisket recipe would remain a secret because I didn’t want any of them to ever serve me a brisket like this one. They laughed and continued with lively conversation.

A couple of days later I decided that I would send the group an e-mail message containing a brisket recipe that I thought would reproduce the brisket I had made to a tee. So here is that no-longer-secret recipe that is my best guess as to how to make a brisket as terrible as mine:

6 lbs. brisket, from an old bull

1/2 gal. kerosene

1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

8 oz. tomato sauce

2 tsp. chili powder

2 tbsp. minced garlic

1 medium onion, finely chopped

3 tbsp. ground black pepper

Lay the brisket in the driveway or street, covered top and bottom with old newspaper. Run over the brisket with the car ten times to tenderize the old bull. Lay the run-over brisket on a work bench in the garage and beat it with a ball-peen hammer until you can see light through the brisket.

Mix the kerosene, Worcestershire sauce, tomato sauce, chili powder, garlic, onion, and black pepper into a marinade. Soak the tenderized old bull in the marinade for 7-10 days. Six hours prior to serving, remove the old bull from the marinade, reserving the left over marinade as a sop during grilling. Grill the old bull on indirect heat at 250-300 degrees, over mesquite chunks, for six hours, sopping on the sop with an old paint brush not completely cleaned of lead-based paint. When the kerosene ignites on the grill, turn the meat rapidly for even burning until the kerosene burns away. Repeat these steps each time you apply the sop.

Remove the old bull brisket from grill and cut, with a dull knife, across the grain, into 1/4-inch slices. Serve while hot. Your guests will be amazed at how terrible this brisket is!

Yes, I messed with Texas and lost.  A friend said I could get deported for what I did. But that would be better than being hung from a tall oak tree.

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