Merle's Barbecued Beef Brisket with all the Fixin's

  • Active Time 25m
  • Total Time 8h 55m

Serves 6 to 8

Merle Ellis, known through his syndicated newspaper columns and by television fans as "The Butcher", is an old friend of ours, and this is a simple, finger-lickin' recipe for barbecued brisket. Merle is certainly well qualified on this subject; he has been awarded a Ph.B. (doctorate in barbecue) from the Kansas City Barbecue Society! His best-selling book, "Cutting Up in the Kitchen", has sold almost 1 million copies, and this recipe is taken from his most recent opus, "The Great American Meat Book" (New York: Knopf, 1996). As Merle describes this brisket, "it's good, and it's hot!" Feel free to mix and match the 'fixin's', adding or substituting your own favorites as you wish. WINE SUGGESTION: West Coast Pinot Noir works well with the barbecue flavors, as does a Cabernet Sauvignon from California.


  • For Brisket:
  • 1 (10-ounce) bottle Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup Tabasco sauce
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dried red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 cups cider vinegar
  • 5 pounds beef brisket, choice grade
  • For Salsa:
  • 10 strips bacon, cooked and diced
  • 3 cups fresh corn kernels (from 4 ears of corn)
  • About 1/3 cup of water
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 red jalapeno chile, thinly sliced, with seeds
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • For Rice:
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 onion, finely diced
  • 3 ounces nopales (cactus pads) diced, about 2/3 cup
  • 1 cup long-grain white rice, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup bottled diced pimentos, drained
  • 1/4 cup seedless raisins
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup pineapple juice
  • 2 cups water


TO PREPARE BRISKET: Place the Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, butter, black pepper, red pepper, salt and vinegar in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Line a large roasting pan with foil and place the meat in it. Pour the sauce over the meat and fold the foil over to cover. Marinate in the refrigerator for 4 hours; remove from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature.

TO PREPARE SALSA: Place the bacon in a mixing bowl. Put the corn in a large sauté pan, add about 1/3 cup of water, and cook for 3 minutes over medium-high heat until the corn is tender and the liquid has evaporated. Transfer the corn to the bowl with the bacon. Add the vinegar, jalapeno, olive oil, salt and pepper and mix well. Keep refrigerated.

TO COOK BRISKET: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Transfer the roasting pan to the oven and bake for 4 or 5 hours, or until very tender. For the last hour of cooking, fold the foil down to allow the meat to brown and soak up as much of the sauce as possible. Serve with the extra sauce on the side.

TO PREPARE RICE: Melt butter in a sauté pan and add the onion. Sauté over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the cactus and sauté for 5 minutes longer. Add the rice, pimentos, raisins, cinnamon, pineapple juice and water and bring to a boil. Continue to boil until the water has evaporated to the level of the rice; then reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pan and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally so that the rice does not stick to the bottom of the pan. When the water has evaporated but the rice is still moist, turn off the heat. Let the rice stand for 5 minutes, and then fluff with a fork.

TO SERVE: Serve the carved brisket family-style, with 'all the fixin's'. In addition to the corn and bacon salsa and rice, serve your favorite beans, greens, corn bread, etc.

HELPFUL TIPS: The colorful rice is given a sweetness by the cinnamon and fruit juice but contains no sugar. The raisins and cactus provide an interesting texture. Sliced cactus is often available in produce sections of supermarkets, especially in Latin neighborhoods, and whole cactus pads are usually sold in Latin markets. If using the latter, peel the cactus using thick leather gloves to make sure the spines don't get you! If you can't find cactus, or if you prefer, substitute 2 diced carrots and 1 diced stick of celery, add with the onion, and cook together for 10 minutes.

Recipe reprinted by permission of Harper Collins. All rights reserved.

RecID 5212

nutrition information per serving

936 calories; 51g total fat; 221mg cholesterol; 1769mg sodium; 51g carbohydrates; 3g fiber; 68g protein

These nutrition facts are calculated according to the ingredients listed in this recipe. Any substitutions will change these facts. Although we strive for accuracy, please note that food manufacturers occasionally change their food formulas, which could affect the calculations as shown.

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