Our new book is all about using sous vide to serve great meals around a busy schedule. One of the ways sous vide can do this is by taking a traditionally difficult meal and making it very easy. For most people, doing a brisket, especially a BBQ brisket, is just impossible during the busy work week because there is no time to smoke and grill it for hours.
Using sous vide for the brisket allows you to prep and bag the brisket in 10 minutes when you have time. Then a few days before you want to eat simply put it in the water bath and forget about it. Once it's cooked you quickly sear the sous vided brisket and you're all ready to eat.
I love a good brisket and cooking it sous vide can result in a really juicy brisket. Plus sous vide makes the process a lot easier. For this recipe we apply a rub and some liquid smoke before sous viding the brisket. This adds additional flavor to the process in a quick and easy way. If you have time you can always smoke it using a traditional smoker and the flavor will be even better.
Beef brisket is one of those meats that can be hard to cook sous vide for at a standard time and temperature because there is so much variety between briskets. Some are very tough and others more tender and some have lots of fat and connective tissue, others are leaner and cleaned better. This makes it pretty difficult to say a brisket should always be cooked for X hours at Y temperature.
I tend to cook my brisket for 2 to 3 days, depending on how much connective tissue there is. If I have the time and I want to be precise I'll open the bag, cut off a piece, and taste it for tenderness every 12 hours or so. This way I'm assured of having a tender sous vide brisket. It's a little extra work but some days I definitely think it's worth it.
I like my sous vide brisket cooked at 135°F (57.2°C) but many people like it at 141°F (60.5°C) and some go as high as 155°F (68.3°C) for a more traditional texture. I just recommend experimenting and seeing which temperature you like best.
The rub I used for the sous vide brisket is a pretty typical barbecue rub but you can use any rub you like. I also added the liquid smoke for extra flavor but you can smoke it the traditional way or use a smoking gun if you prefer and have the time.
Once the sous vide brisket is done cooking I dry it off, salt it liberally, and toss it on the grill or into a hot pan to develop a crust. If time is short and there is little fat you can skip this step.
If you would like more information about the modernist techniques, ingredients, and equipment used in the Smokey Sous Vide Brisket you can check out the following.
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During the week it's hard to find time to smoke foods. Using liquid smoke during the cooking helps to impart the Smoky flavor without requiring all the hard work. I often serve this brisket with corn bread and macaroni and cheese. You can also add your favorite BBQ sauce to it at the end for even more flavor.
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Mix together all the rub ingredients in a bowl. Coat the brisket with the spices. Place in a sous vide pouch with the liquid smoke then seal.
At this point you can store the pouch in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, freeze it for up to 6 months, or cook it right away.
Preheat the water bath to 135°F (57.2°C).
Place the pouch in the water bath for 1 to 3 days.
For more information on the cooking times you can read my detailed article which addresses why is there a range in sous vide cooking times.
Preheat a grill to high heat or a pan to medium-high heat.
Take the sous vide brisket out of the water bath and remove it from the pouch. Pat it dry with a paper towel or dish cloth. Liberally salt the sous vide brisket and quickly sear it for about 1 to 2 minutes per side, just until browned.
Take the sous vide brisket off the heat, slice 1" to 1/4" thick, and serve.
This recipe is from our book, Sous Vide: Help for the Busy Cook: Harness the Power of Sous Vide to Create Great Meals Around Your Busy Schedule which is filled with fast and flavorful meals that even the busiest cook and make during the week!
If you like this recipe you can get more than 85 other inspiring recipes to get you on your way to sous vide success. It's all in my best selling book Modernist Cooking Made Easy: Sous Vide - Get Your Copy Today!