I love Junior League cookbooks. Who doesn't? And, having spent my childhood in Nebraska, my go to choice is Amber Waves, from the Omaha Junior League.
This weekend, I went, as I have done so many times before, to the Best Ever Brisket recipe in Amber Waves. It is easy and delicious and my Second Dinner Party recipe -- the recipe I make for guests coming to my house for a second time. First time guests get Chicken Marbella from The Silver Palate Cookbook. I always use the recipes in that order so I can keep track.
BEST EVER BRISKET (adapted from memory)
Rub a brisket with liquid smoke and wrap in heavy duty aluminum foil. Put in roasting pan and cook. The recipe says to cook it for 30 minutes per pound at 350 degrees. If I remember in time, I do this.
If I don't, I put it in the oven at 225 overnight -- setting the oven to turn off before I wake up if it is a little brisket. This time, I have a six pound brisket, so I bunged it in the 225 oven at 8:00 pm and set the oven to turn off at 5:00 am. The point is to apply heat to food -- a higher temperature for a shorter time; lower temperature for a longer time. Nine hours won't hurt it and if it needs more time, I can goose it in the morning.
Take the fat off the meat (now or later). Save the pan juices. Chill the brisket well.
Make a sauce of 16 ounces or so of ketchup, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup molasses, 1 tablespoon liquid smoke, 2 tablespoons red wine, 1 tablespoon hot sauce, a clove or two of minced garlic (the recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of powdered). Boil for 15 minutes. Cool until ready to use.
Slice the brisket across the grain in thin slices, 1/4-inch if possible, trying to keep it in brisket form. Mix the sauce with at least half a cup of meat juice and mush the sauce between slices. Wrap brisket in heavy duty foil again. If this is too much trouble or too much of a mess, I just put it in a baking dish as close to the size of the brisket as possible, in as close to the original shape as possible, and cover with foil.
Before serving. heat at 275 for one hour, or until good and hot.
Serve with mashed potatoes, polenta, or some other starchy side dish.
There are usually no left overs.