Tired tenderloin, move aside — this outdoor party calls for smoked brisket! You could cook the center-cut beef in the oven, of course, but it’s summer, and we want to spend every minute we can outside. Besides, there’s nothing more mouthwatering than the scent of outdoor cooking in progress.
A local Mexican market was chef Katherine Costello’s inspiration for the entire menu, from the dried hibiscus blossoms for the marinade and meat-smoking element, to the horchata-glazed grilled shortcakes with grilled stone fruit, to the elote dressing for the salad. Kit encourages you to delight in the wonders of a Mexican market near your home. It may very well inspire you to add a little sizzle to your next cookout.
- While the meat is still cold, trim the fat cap down to 1/4 inch of fat. (You can leave it on, as fat equals flavor, but I prefer to trim.)
- 2 tablespoons coarse salt
- 2 tablespoons coarse black pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 1 teaspoon grated lime zest or any citrus
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup red wine (sweet works well with this)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons chopped or crumbled dried Mexican chili peppers (or dried pepper of your choice)
- 1½ cups dried hibiscus flowers
- Blend the salt, black and white pepper and zest together in a small bowl.
- Let the brisket sit at room temperature for 20-30 minutes.
- Place meat in a shallow pan and coat with olive oil; rub the dry ingredients into the meat. Add the wine and sugar, cover and refrigerate overnight (about 12 hours).
- Let the brisket sit at room temperature for 20-30 minutes before cooking.
- Preheat grill to 350 degrees.
- Make a small well with aluminum foil to place wood chips or I’ve chosen to use whole dried Mexican peppers, and dried hibiscus; soak for about an hour before placing them on the grill in an aluminum foil pouch placed on an old cookie sheet.
- Place meat on the grill, cooking for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees, and then lower the temperature to 250 degrees. (For a 3.5-pounder, I recommend at least 3 hours of cook time.) Keep the lid on and check every 45 minutes. It may take longer, but you will be able to tell when the meat fibers have passed the tough phase and tendered up. Remove from the grill and let it sit at least 20 minutes before serving. (I wrap mine in parchment paper.) Slice with a sharp knife, on the bias (against the grain) of the meat.
Grilled Elote Romaine Salad
- 3 large heads romaine, cut in half vertically
- 1 cup grilled corn kernels
- 1 cup fresh blueberries
- ½ cup finally chopped red or green onion
- ½ cup fresh cherry tomatoes
- ½ cup seeded, diced cucumber
- 2/3 cup mayonnaise
- 2 or 3 tablespoons Mexican creme or heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons sour cream
- 2 limes, zested and juiced
- Fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)
- 2 tablespoons Mexican chili powder
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- ½ cup grated cotija cheese (reserve a few tablespoons for a final sprinkle)
- Salt, to taste
- For the dressing, place the mayo, creams, lime (zest and juice) and cilantro in a bowl or food processor. Mix with an immersion blender or process on low until blended. In a separate bowl, loosely blend the chili powder and pepper into the grated cheese. Season with salt, to taste. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- While my brisket is resting, I crank the grill up to 450 degrees; place the romaine halves cut side down onto the grill; when the edges are pretty brown, pull them off. (They brown very quickly, so don’t leave the grill.) Arrange the lettuce on a platter, cut side up. Top with the salad ingredients; just before serving, drizzle with the dressing and sprinkle with the remaining cheese mixture.
Grilled Stone Fruit and Shortcakes
- 8 tablespoons butter, cut into tiny pieces
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- 1 cup very cold heavy cream
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 cups self-rising flour
- Horchata (use a mix of honey and lemon as a substitute if necessary)
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Place the butter, sour cream and cream in a small bowl and stir; place it in the freezer for about 20 minutes. Mix the sugar and flour in a separate bowl, and then add the chilled cream mixture all at once, mixing by hand until just blended. (Add a bit more liquid to make a wetter dough.) Gather the dough together in the bowl, and then place it on your work area between to large sheets of parchment; flatten until the dough is about 1 inch thick. With a cookie cutter (I used a glass), cut out 3-inch circles. Place in the 425-degree oven and bake until they are fully cooked and golden brown (12-15 minutes). Remove from oven and place on a rack to cool.
- Generously brush the rounds with horchata and place directly on a hot grill until it leaves a dark grill mark; carefully flip and do the same to the other side. Take them off the grill and cool.
GRILLED STONE FRUIT
- Olive oil, as needed
- 2 pounds ripe stone fruit (peaches, nectarines, plums), pitted and halved
- Preheat grill to about 440 degrees. Using enough olive oil to coat, toss the fruit with the oil. Place the fruit on the grill, cut side down, cooking just until they have some nice grill marks (only a few minutes); do a 45-degree turn on the fruit for added grill marks. Remove and slice.
- 16 ounces whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
- Whip the cream; fold in sugar and almond extract. Place shortcake on serving plate; top with fruit and a dollop of whipped cream.