While traditional beef brisket rules the deli counter, pork brisket -- little known as it may be -- serves as a savory, tender and affordable alternative. Like beef brisket, this cut comes from the bottom half of the shoulder and features a similar consistency and texture, down to the signature marbling. Many chefs smoke pork brisket, but it can be braised and oven-roasted much like its beefy brethren.
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Rub the deboned pork brisket with the seasonings of your choice. Stick with salt and pepper, or add other savory seasonings such as sage and thyme. For a little more kick, turn to garlic, chili flakes or smoked paprika.
Lay the meat flat on a clean cutting board, then roll the meat into a rough cylinder shape. Tie the brisket with loops of kitchen twine, with each loop spaced about 1½ inches apart. Use kitchen scissors to cut the twine.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
Warm a few spoonfuls of olive oil or lard in a Dutch oven on the stovetop. Choose olive oil for a lighter taste or lard for a richer, heavier flavor.
Place the tied brisket in the Dutch oven for about 10 minutes, turning it every two minutes or so to brown it evenly. Halfway through the browning, add additional heartier seasonings or sides to the dutch oven, such as chopped garlic or Roma tomatoes, if you wish.
Remove the meat from the Dutch oven carefully and set it on a plate. Pour the oil or lard out until just about a spoonful lies at the bottom of the pot. Add a few cups of braising liquid -- milk, wine, beer and even cola can do the trick -- and fragrant seasonings, such as whole bay leaves, cloves or lemon zest. Deglaze the pot by cooking the mixture until it reduces by about half.
Return the brisket to the Dutch oven and place it in the preheated oven. Cover it and cook for about an hour, for a 3- to 4-pound brisket. Cooking times vary per size of the cut.
Remove the cover and cook the meat in the oven for about 30 more minutes, or until the meat is white and tender and the skin has a crisp texture and golden brown hue. Check the meat's internal temperature with a meat thermometer -- it should read between 160 and 170 degrees Fahrenheit to be ready to serve.
Things You'll Need
Olive oil or lard
For an extra-crisp finish, place the brisket on a hotel pan and cook it under the broiler for about 30 seconds to a minute.
Slice leftover pork to make delicious and hearty cold cuts, ideal for barbecue-style pork brisket sandwiches.