April sees some of our BBQ family celebrating Passover, one of the most important events on the Jewish calendar and commemorates the freeing of the Jewish slaves from Egypt under the leadership of Moses. And so we have our Texan Brisket Passover Recipe, with Sweet Potato Pie, Veggie Kebobs and Homemade Matza Bread.
If you are Jewish then you probably know all there is to know about preparing a Passover meal. If you’re not, there are some things that you need to remember. Firstly, your ingredients need to not only be Kosher but also permitted for Passover. That’s right – some foods that are Kosher that are not allowed to be eaten during Passover. For example, Kosher bread rolls, which are very common in the BBQ world are not allowed during Passover as they are ‘leavened’ (they have yeast and have risen). This is why we’re making Matza Bread.
There are also rules about how the food is prepared too. For example, food must be cooked within 18 minutes of touching water so you need to be on the ball. This can be quite the challenge for even the most seasoned of cooks and yet I saw an opportunity. Be’te avon!
Texan Passover Brisket Recipe: The Rub
BBQ is simple in Texas: beef, salt, and pepper. That’s it. So that’s exactly what your rub is going to be: put 1/4 cup of Kosher salt and 1/4 cup of whole black pepper in a grinder and grind it. I like mine a little chunky.
Texan Passover Brisket Recipe: The Brisket
The next step is to trim up your brisket. It’s important that you got a fresh brisket and not one that’s been vacuum sealed: vacuum sealed meats need to be washed and if the meat touches water then it needs to be cooked within 18 minutes, which isn’t going to happen with a brisket!
When it comes to doing the trimming you want to make sure that you cut off any overhanging pieces, square up the edges and leave about 5mm (¼ inch) of fat on top. As we’re cooking the brisket whole, that’s as far as we’re going to go – some people like to separate the point from the flat but we don’t need to.
Next, apply your rub. Liberally. Put some on, and pat it down. Keep applying until it won’t stick anymore. Then you’re done.
Texan Brisket Passover Recipe: The Smoker
Dial your BBQ or smoker in to 275F (135C). Make sure you have a water pan to help keep the cut moist. You can use a drip pan with a little water to catch the drippings off your brisket to make sauces, gravies etc. Throw in a few chunks of your favourite smoking wood (I like apple), close up the smoker and leave it alone for three hours.
At the three-hour mark you should be finding yourself in ‘The Stall’ – a period of time where the temperature of the meat seems stuck between 160F – 170F (71C – 77C). This happens as moisture forms on the surface of the meat, which when exposed to air creates an evaporative cooling effect.
You can just power through it. Eventually the temperature will start to rise again. Or you can do the ‘Texas Crutch’. This involves placing the piece of meat on a large piece of foil, adding some liquid and sealing it up. The trade-off will be moisture vs bark. If you don’t crutch, then your brisket has a higher chance of drying out but you will have better bark. If you do crutch, your brisket will probably be moister but your bark will also be moist.
In this case I spritzed the brisket and wrapped it in heavy duty aluminium foil. If you do foil it, then you don’t need to worry about putting any more wood on there for smoking.
Now you can leave it alone for another 3 hours. At the three-hour mark you can check your brisket for internal temperature. You’re looking for 195F – 210F (90C – 99C). The magic number is 203F (95C). If you’re not there, wrap it back up and put it back for another hour. If you are, wrap it back up, put the whole package in a dry esky and tuck it in tightly with a towel. This will keep your brisket toasty warm for hours and will also let you rest the meat which is really important.
The minimum that you need to rest the brisket for is one hour. While your brisket is resting, you can start preparing the rest of your foods.
Texan Brisket Passover Recipe: Sweet Potato Pie
Peel and chunk 1 kg of sweet potatoes and boil them for approximately 15 minutes until soft. Drain the potatoes and put them back in the saucepan. Add 1/4 cup of margarine (not butter – you can’t serve dairy and meat at the one meal), 1 egg, 1 tsp of vanilla extract, and 1/2 tsp of kosher salt and mash it all together. Then gently stir the pecans. Spray a baking tray with a neutral oil (coconut is good as it will make the pie taste a little sweeter) and put the mixture into the tray. Smooth out the top with a spatula and put it into an oven that’s been preheated to 350F (180C) for 20 minutes, until golden brown on top.
Texan Brisket Passover Recipe: Veggie Kebobs
While you’re waiting on the pie, chop 4 mall red potatoes, 1/3 medium red capsicum, 1/3 medium green capsicum, 1/3 medium yellow capsicum, 2 zucchini, into bite-sized pieces, thread them and a punnet of vine-ripened cherry tomatoes onto some skewers (soak them in water first if you’re using wooden ones). Brush them with the olive oil and season with salt. Don’t grill them yet though.
Texan Brisket Passover Recipe: Homemade Matza Bread
Once the pie is finished (cover with foil and towel to keep it warm), increase the temperature to 480F (250C) and put in a non-stick baking tray, allowing the tray to get nice and hot.
Put 1 cup of plain flour in a bowl and prepare a surface by sprinkling it with flour. Add the water a little at a time, combining to make a dough. Put it on the prepared surface and knead for roughly a minute. Break the mixture into 4 and then roll each piece out into very thin discs, approximately 15 centimetres (6 inches) across. Prick it several times with a fork to ensure no chance of it rising. Pull the tray out of the oven, quickly put on the Matza Bread and put them back in the oven. They will need two minutes on either side, at which point they will be lightly browned and crispy. Put them on a rack to cool and then brush lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
Now you can head back outside, quickly grill your kebobs and bring your brisket back into the house.
Texan Brisket Passover Recipe: Plating Up
To slice brisket, start at the end of the flat and cut against the grain to ensure the meat is as tender as possible. Once you’ve cut to where the point rises from the flat, you’ll find a thin layer of fat running between the two. Run your knife through this layer of fat to separate them and continue slicing each piece against the grain. This is important as the two muscles run in different directions.
If you’ve cooked it right, a slice the width of a pencil will bend over your finger. If it doesn’t bend, then it hasn’t reached the ideal internal temperature. If it breaks apart, then you’ve overdone it.
To plate up, simply grab whatever amounts you want and throw them on a plate. I really enjoyed breaking off a piece of Matzah, and putting on a bite-sized piece of brisket and a small spoonful of sweet-potato pie. The savoury of the beef and sweetness of the pie combined really well with the softness of the pie and the crunchiness of the Matza. It was amazing!
If you are Jewish then you most likely know everything I’ve talked about here, but if not, your Jewish friends and family are really going to appreciate this Texan Passover feast. Enjoy!