Texas Brisket on La Cajita China
Recipe by Dorothy Randoll
Beefy, moist, falling-apart tender brisket is what you"ll have with these easy instructions for preparing one 15-pound brisket on La Cajita China. The same process works with La Caja China and as many as six briskets.
What you need:
La Caja China or La Cajita China
Brisket: Buy an untrimmed (sometimes called packer style) brisket available at most grocery stores. It will have a thick cap of fat, and is usually in heavy plastic packaging. In Texas, it's frequently on sale during the summer for 99 cents a pound. We stock up for barbecuing all winter long. A 15-pound brisket fits nicely on La Cajita China; briskets are available in size from about 8 pounds and up. Calculate about 2 servings per pound. Leftovers reheat and freeze well, so don't underestimate quantity. Besides, you probably won't have much left over to worry about! La Caja China can accommodate about 6 briskets, depending on their size.
Dry rub: Tyler Florence's Ancho Chile Rub is excellent on brisket. You may already have a personal "house blend" combination of seasonings that you like. For those who prefer less spice, try this:
1/2 cup kosher salt
Dorothy's Barbecue Sauce
3/4 cup brown sugar
Prepare the brisket:
Place brisket on large rimmed baking sheet and generously apply dry rub, whichever type you prefer, to all meat surfaces. Let stand at room temperature until cooking time.
Prepare La Cajita China:
11 a.m. - Remove brisket from refrigerator, rinse, apply dry rub; prepare roaster.
Noon - Place brisket on grate in La Cajita, fat side up. Put top tray on pig roaster and build fire, using 4 - 5 pounds of charcoal in center of charcoal pan. Allow about 20 minutes for coals to burn evenly.
12:30 p.m. (or when coals are ready) - Spread coals evenly over the surface of the charcoal pan. Keep an eye on the fire for safety reasons; do not leave a fire unattended.
1:30 p.m. - Pour about 3/4 cup basting sauce (or my barbecue sauce) into a container. Lift the charcoal pan and place on grill handles. Brush the fatty meat surface generously without removing it from grate. Quickly replace the charcoal pan and add another 4 - 5 pounds of charcoal, distributing them evenly over the already burning coals. Reserve any unused basting sauce.
Prepare the aluminum foil:
2:30 p.m. - Remove the charcoal pan and set aside. Using
carefully place the brisket on top of the 2 sheets of foil on the
rimmed pan. Pour any remaining basting sauce over and top with the third
sheet of foil. Fold up all edges of foil to enclose securely. With oven
mitts, place the foil-wrapped brisket, pan and all, into La Cajita and
cover unit with charcoal pan. Add 2 - 3 pounds of charcoal, distributing
evenly over the already burning coals.
3:30 p.m. - Remove the charcoal pan and set aside. Place an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the brisket, poking through the foil. We are aiming for an internal temperature of 180 degrees. It will probably take one more hour of cooking to reach that, but you need to check now to avoid overcooking. Add 2 - 3 pounds of charcoal, distributing evenly over the already burning coals.
4:30 p.m. - Remove the charcoal pan and set aside. Place an
instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the brisket, poking
through the same hole in the foil.
5:30 p.m. - Carefully remove the top piece of foil from the meat. Using oven mitts, transfer the brisket to the carving surface. I suggest placing a cutting board in a rimmed pan. This will catch any juices, which can be poured back over the meat after it's carved. It will also help keep the counter clean. You will have several cups of meat juices trapped in the aluminum foil. (Carefully pour this into a large bowl and refrigerate. After the fat conceals on the surface, remove and discard. Transfer the pure beef juice to containers to freeze for later use in chili, stews or gravy.)
To carve the brisket, carefully slice off the fat cap and
discard. There are two sections to the thicker part of a brisket,
separated by a thin layer of fat that has mostly dissolved by this
point. However, you can see where the two sections separate. Carefully
cut along that seam horizontally to remove the top portion. You now have
two pieces of brisket, one larger than the other. Slice the brisket
against the grain of the meat, paying attention as the grain direction
changes. Place on a large platter. You'll be ready to serve at 6 p.m.
Meanwhile, back at La Cajita:
Serve the brisket with warm barbecue sauce on the side. Have buns, sliced onions, pickles and lots of napkins available.