Smoked brisket

Smoked brisket

Okay, let me just start off by saying that this is a recipe that I make in our barbecue. I’ve never been much of a BBQ snob but you know, being married to an American man it was kind of a requirement for us to have one. It’s one of those things!

In the beginning I felt super intimidated by it – I mean it’s this big, metallic thing with an actual fire burning inside. It was a bit scary! I thought Mike would be the one manning it for the most part but honestly, I started to play with it a bit and started trying out different foods – “let’s see how this cooks in there! And this! Do you think this will be okay in there?” – and it has actually ended up being kind of fun! Plus our BBQ is uber techy (which I love) and it’s a wood-burning one, which I wasn’t sure about before but it’s ended up being my favourite part!

The fact that it uses wood pellets just adds that extra layer of flavor that honestly I don’t think you can replicate. If you use a barbecue with coals it also has a very specific flavor, right? I know that having a gas BBQ is really convenient but if you care about the flavor profile and not just cooking something outside with friends and a beer (nothing wrong with that!), I’d definitely suggest that you look into getting a wood-burning BBQ. Ours is from Traeger if you’re interested, but there’s others out there too!

Anyways, all of that is to say that I never really used to cook big cuts of meat like this – I’d usually just roast them slowly in the oven with some potatoes and a sauce (nothing wrong with that either!) – but after trying it a couple of times it’s such a nice experience cutting into it and seeing the smoke ring and just in general, having meat cooked in a totally different way (for me at least)! So if you’ve got a grill and you want to give this a try, here’s how to do it.

 

Smoked brisket

 

First things first:

  • Take the brisket out of the fridge an hour or so before preparing it
  • Prepare your barbecue or smoker if you’re using one (clean etc)
  • Make sure to have a meat thermometer on hand!
Smoked brisket
This is our barbecue – small but mighty!

 

Rub:

  • 1 1/2 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp garlic
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tbsp mixed herbs (or italian seasoning)
  • 1/2 tbsp paprika

Smoked brisket

 

What to do:

  • First you need to prepare your meat. You can do this an hour or so before cooking but if you did it the day before it would be even better! I’ve used a 1.5 – 2kg brisket for this and the amount of rub is more than enough.

Smoked brisket

  • Remove any of the ties that usually hold the brisket together to make sure it’s all one flat piece. Use some paper towels to pat it down and make sure it’s completely dry.
Smoked brisket
For some reason, when I removed the string from my brisket it turned out to be 2 pieces instead of one! This doesn’t normally happen but it cooks the same – just keep an eye on the temperature!
  • Score the top of your brisket – using a small, sharp knife make a diamond pattern on the fat side (try not to cut any deeper!)

Smoked brisket

  • Mix your rub ingredients together (obviously you can use a different blend but this is my favourite!)

Smoked brisket

  • Generously spread the rub all over your meat. Top, bottom, sides… make sure it’s really well coated. Use your hands and pat it in to make sure it sticks.
    • Now you can let it rest for as long as you want. If you’re going to leave it overnight just pop it in the fridge but if not you can just leave it on your countertop or somewhere safe for a while, until you’re ready to start making it.

Smoked brisket

  • Make sure your BBQ (or oven) is preheated to 105C. If you have a fancy shmancy one like us you’ll want to set it on super smoke for extra flavor but if not it’ll still be delicious I’m sure!
  • Pop your brisket on your grill, fat side down. Make sure to use a meat thermometer as this is what will dictate how long it stays in for!

Smoked brisket

  • When your meat reaches an internal temperature of 70C (for this size it took me about 3h), take your brisket out and wrap it in aluminum foil. Pop it back in and get the thermometer back in. If you’re using your super smoke function I’d turn it off now.
  • Once the internal temperature of your brisket has reached 95C (should take another 3ish hours), take your meat out of the barbecue (or oven) and let it rest on your counter for about 30min – 1 hour.
  • Once it’s rested, remove the aluminum foil (careful as it’s probably full of juices!) and slice your brisket against the grain.

Smoked brisketSmoked brisket

  • And that’s it! Delicious smokey brisket – takes a long time but little to no effort!

 

Smoked brisket

 

Top tips:

  • I would really recommend that you season the meat the night before. The longer it sits in that rub, the better it’ll taste and also, it takes a looong time to cook and if you’re making it outside you may want to maximize your daylight.
  • If you’ve got some extra rub don’t discard it! It’s a great seasoning blend that you can use with other meats or veggies – on this day I used it to season my butternut squash but I’ve also used it on steak and chicken!
  • Cooking times will vary significantly depending on your grill, the outside temperature, and obviously the size of your brisket. This is why for something like this I’m fully guided on internal temperatures. Cooking thermometers are cheap so if you’re planning on making stuff like this I’d suggest you invest in one!
  • If you don’t have a barbecue but you’ve got a smoker I’m pretty sure you can use that as well! Just make sure to still use a meat thermometer and it’ll be the same.
  • Obviously if you make it in the oven you won’t have the smoky flavor but it’ll still be tender and delicious! I’d suggest using one of those racks that you’d use to make a whole roast chicken or turkey and on the bottom of that you can probably put some potatoes and when the meat drips it’ll flavor them like you wouldn’t believe it. Yum!

 

 

Smoked brisket

 

And that’s it! I know not everyone’s got a barbecue and much less a fancy shmancy one like we do – but if you do this is a great thing to make with it! Your brisket comes out super smoky and tender and juicy. The rub gives it a great flavor and whichever wood you decide to use it’ll give it a very particular smoky flavor too.

If you decide to make it I’d suggest pairing it with my roasted butternut squash and maybe some greens on the side but you can also cut it very thinly and use it for sandwiches or even chopped up into a frittata. The options are endless! I hope you like recipes like this and you give it a try! If you do make sure to share it with me and as always, thanks for reading me and see you again soon!

Roasted butternut squash

Roasted butternut squash

This is one of those undiscovered gems for me. I’ve always associated butternut squash with soup and most of the time, not well-seasoned soup. Also, any time I saw it at the supermarket I just didn’t know what else to do with it, so I’ve never really been very into it! And then one day I saw one of the YouTubers I follow make a veggie dinner and she used butternut squash as part of the meal – it looked so interesting to me I decided to try it and since then I’ve made it a bunch of times at home. I’ve tinkered with the method and found a way to make it my own and let me tell you, it’s become one of our favorites!

Butternut squash is actually quite sweet – kind of like pumpkin or sweet potato. So whichever way you make it you really need to think about your seasoning as this will make the biggest difference! I think the best flavour to compliment the sweetness of the squash is smokey. So I love to use smoked paprika and smoked flakey sea salt to finish it. I think it really does make all the difference here. If you have any seasoning that’s good for steak or big cuts of meat (stay tuned for my smoked brisket recipe!) that would work really well here too.

 

Butternut squash

 

 

First things first:

  • Preheat your oven to 220C
  • Wash and dry your butternut squash

 

Ingredients:

  • Butternut squash
  • Seasoning of your choice (see below)
  • Olive oil

 

How to make it:

  • Even though we’re not going to be eating the skin of the butternut squash, I like to wash the skin a bit to get rid of any soil or anything else that might be on it. Just a quick scrub will do!

Butternut squash

  • Cut the top and bottom of your squash and then cut it in the middle, lengthwise

Butternut squash

  • With a spoon, remove the seeds from your squash. It’s a lot easier to do with a spoon than it is with a knife, but still be careful when you do this! It starts to get a bit slippery in there so just be patient.
    • Note: you don’t have to discard those seeds if you don’t want to. You can just remove all the flesh and then rinse the seeds, pat them dry and roast them in the oven until they become fragrant. 

Butternut squash

  • Grab a baking tray, line it with aluminum foil (trust me, it’ll make the biggest difference when it comes to cleaning!) and place your squash on it, open-side up. Season it however you like and drizzle with some olive oil
    • Note: My favourite way to season it is with a blend that I make which has salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder (if I have it), and lots of smoked paprika.
    • Sometimes I also add mixed dried herbs or fresh herbs – usually rosemary and sage.
    • On this day I used some leftover seasoning from my smoked brisket which is basically the same thing!

Butternut squash

  • Once your squash is all dressed up, put it in the oven at 220C for about 45min. Keep in mind that depending on your oven and the size of your squash, the cooking time may change.
  • When you think it’s about done, poke the thickest part of your squash with a knife and if it goes in and out super smoothly (as if it was soft butter) then it’s all good to go. If you get any resistance, pop it back in for another 5-10min and re-check.
    • Don’t be alarmed if the top looks really dark and almost burnt. This is just the top and in my opinion it’s actually the best part! You’ll see.

Butternut squash

  • Let it rest for 5-10min and serve it however you like! I like to just use a spoon to scoop it out. I use a fork to help myself with holding the skin down (it’s too hot for my fingers!). It should come off from the skin nice and easily.

Butternut squash

  • And that’s it! Sprinkle some flakey (smoked if you can) sea salt over the top and it’s good to go!

Butternut squash

  • I like to serve it “messy” because I feel like that way the ratio of seasoned and not-so-seasoned flesh is nicer but if you want to just cut it up into neat little chunks you can too – it’s up to you!

Butternut squash

 

I hope you give this recipe a try and if you do, let me know if you like it! It’s one of those super simple things to make that are just so yummy! It’s also super easy to prepare and great for a weeknight dinner.

Also, I always serve this as a side dish but if you’re veggie it’s great as part of your main meal – I’ve had it before with a serving of quinoa and some greens and it’s really filling and delicious!

Thanks again for reading me and stay tuned for more yummy recipes!!

Perfect roast chicken

Perfect roast chicken

Roast chicken is one of those staple meals that everyone should know how to make. When I was growing up, my parents and I used to love getting rotisserie chicken every once in a while and it felt like such a treat! That distinct roast chicken flavour with the crispy skin and those beautiful juices at the bottom… if you know what I’m talking about then it’s very likely that your mouth is watering too.

Chicken is such a versatile meat, but to be honest I got so sick of it during my medschool years that I just didn’t want to ever see it on my plate! I still go in waves about this actually – it’s something that we eat so often that I just get so bored of it and I don’t know how to make it anymore. When this happens to me I always go back to making a beautifully golden roast chicken and every single time it helps. It never fails! Always delicious, with a crispy skin and yummy juices. Plus the potatoes – obviously.

Roast chicken

So there are a few tips and tricks that will hopefully help you make the best roast chicken ever and also once you master it you can apply most of these tricks to any other bird – like a Thanksgiving turkey! (I know I’m not American but hey – any excuse to eat delicious food!). I will share a recipe on that later on.

First things first:

  • Get your chicken out of the fridge so it comes to room temperature – about an hour or so is about right, but a few hours won’t do it any harm either!
  • Take the butter out of the fridge to soften up – I usually do this at the same time as the chicken
  • Preheat your oven to 200C

Ingredients:

Roast chicken

  • Whole chicken – I used a 2kg free-range chicken
  • 100g butter
  • Potatoes – as many as you like, I used 1kg
  • Onions – I used 2
  • Garlic – as many or as few cloves as you lik
  • Rosemary – few sprigs
  • Dried herbs and seasoning (read below)

Roast chicken

  • 1 cup chicken stock (or stock cube)
  • 1 cup white wine

How-to:

  • Prepare your butter – take the softened butter and mix in whatever herbs and seasoning you like – I like to add salt, pepper, garlic powder, mixed Italian herbs and onion powder but I change my seasonings depending on how I’m feeling.

Compound butter

  • Cut up your potatoes and onions and place them on a large roasting tray with your garlic and rosemary. Drizzle some oil, salt and pepper and mix them up until they’re evenly seasoned.

Roast veggies

  • Make a little pocket under the skin of your chicken. Do not skip this step!! Might seem a bit gross but honestly it makes all the difference. Just near the opening separate the skin from the meat with your fingers and extend that opening through as much of the breast as you can.

Roast chicken

  • With a small spoon, put the butter in those pockets you’ve just created and spread it with your hands. Make sure to also get onto the leg creases!

Roast chicken Roast chicken Roast chicken Roast chicken

  • Once you’ve put the butter under the skin, rub the rest of it all over the chicken.

Roast chicken

  • Place your chicken either on a roasting rack like I have here, or directly on top of your potatoes and onions. Either way would work!
  • Sprinkle a small amount of salt and pepper over your chicken and drizzle a bit of olive oil to maximize crispiness

Roast chicken

  • Place your tray in the oven and roast for about 30-45min (about halfway through cooking). Then take it out and pour your chicken stock and white wine all over your chicken and potatoes mixture. Put it back in the oven and roast for another 45min or until it’s fully cooked through.

Roast chicken Roast chicken

Top tips:

  • Lots of nice pictures online (and well-known chefs) will show you trussed chicken – that’s using twine to tie up the chicken so that the ends don’t burn and it all cooks evenly – but honestly for normal everyday home cooks I don’t think there’s a point in doing that. If you just leave it all loose, tuck the wings underneath and let the legs hang where they want to, it all cooks pretty evenly anyways. Plus you get lots of crispy skin!
  • If your oven heats up unevenly I’d suggest turning the chicken when you get it back in the oven halfway through cooking so it cooks evenly.
  • I don’t tend to use a meat thermometer very often but if you want to use it you should place it in the thickest part of your chicken, making sure to not be touching bone. When it reaches 73C it’s all good to eat.
  • If you don’t have a meat thermometer don’t worry! When you think it’s done, pull the leg away from the body and make a little incision in that leg meat. If the juices come out clear and the meat looks opaque, it’s fully cooked. If there’s any remnants of pink in either the meat or the juices, pop it back in the oven for about 10-15min and test again on the other side.
  • As a general rule, for a 2kg chicken cooked at 200C it takes it about 1h 20-30min to cook through.
  • Let the chicken rest when it comes out of the oven! Like when you cook any kind of meat, don’t cut into it as soon as it’s cooked. Let it sit for about 10-15min and then you can carve it. Don’t lose those precious juices by cutting into it too soon!
  • You can change up the veggies if you’re not that into potatoes (is that even a thing?!) or if you want to cut down carbs a bit. I’d suggest using things like carrots, parsnips, celeriac and sweet potatoes. Basically choose something hearty that will be fine in the oven for a long time.

Roast chicken

And that’s it! It takes a bit of prepping but you can feed a crowd (or meal prep for the week) with very little effort! I love recipes where you don’t have to be standing over the stove for hours, particularly on weekdays or for dinner parties – it’s so much more convenient! These proportions will feed 4 people happily without any other sides but if you want to feed more people I’d suggest you give my husband’s favorite salad a try as a light but filling side! Also you can use a larger amount of potatoes or other veggies and a bigger bird if you’re feeding more.

I hope that you found this recipe helpful and that you give it a try – would love to hear your thoughts on it! Thanks for reading me and see you again soon!!