|Dry rub||1⁄2 Cup (8 tbs)|
|Unflavored gelatin||1 Tablespoon (1 Envelope)|
|Warm water/Apple juice||1 1⁄4 Cup (20 tbs)|
|Liquid smoke sauce||3 Tablespoon|
|Barbecue sauce||1⁄4 Cup (4 tbs)|
1. Preheat your oven to 220-250 F, according to the brisket€™s size: larger ones need a slower oven, smaller ones a hotter oven (see notes below). If you use a convection oven, the fan must be kept off. Trim the meat side of the flat, removing any silver skin. Cut off any sharp corners, which would dry in the oven, and save the bits for stock or mince.
2. Apply the dry rub to both sides. The half-cup called for in the ingredients list is a rough guide. A small flat might end up over-salted with that amount, whereas a large one might need more seasoning. Always apply the rub just before the brisket goes into the oven. Marinating it with the rub prior to cooking, which is often recommended by experts, is a bad idea: it will draw out too much moisture.
3. Put the brisket, meat-side up, directly on a rack near the center of the oven, with a foil-lined sheet pan six inches or farther below to catch drips (it€™s important that hot air surround the meat). The drip pan should be kept full of water to prevent splattering. Roast the brisket between 220 and 250 F. Use an oven thermometer and try to maintain that temperature range throughout the cooking. (Below 220, the meat will have to remain in the oven for so long that nothing will prevent it from drying. Above 250, the sugar in the dry rub will burn after a few hours, while the meat will cook too quickly to develop the characteristic succulence of barbecue.)
4. Dissolve the gelatin in the warm water or apple juice. It€™s not necessary to soften it first in cold liquid as one does for jellies and aspics because it€™s only going to be painted on the meat. To the gelatin mixture, add the liquid smoke and, if you like, a tablespoon or two of the dry rub. When the brisket has been cooking for approximately 30 minutes, dab (do not brush) the meat side with the gelatin mixture, covering it completely and taking care not to disturb the dry rub on the surface. Repeat this every thirty minutes, until about 2/3 of the gelatin mixture has been used.
5. When about 1/3 of the gelatin mixture remains, turn the brisket fat side up and continue basting it every thirty minutes until all of the gelatin has been used. Leave it fat side up throughout the remainder of the cooking. It€™s important to start with the meat side up so that it can be protected immediately with several applications of gelatin, but the fat will protect the brisket from moisture loss more effectively, so that side should be exposed to the higher heat throughout the majority of the cooking. Naturally, the air temperature above the meat will average higher than the temperature below.
6. When it€™s done, remove it from the oven, wrap it in aluminum foil, place it between a couple of towels, and let it rest for about an hour. If you€™re using a temperature probe, don€™t remove it until the meat is fully rested. When it€™s ready, slice it across the grain into 1/4 inch thick strips, and splash on some barbecue sauce. The sauce will give it a final addition of smoke flavoring and make the dish almost indistinguishable from the real thing. Serve it with something cool and refreshing: cole slaw is the classic accompaniment, but potato salad, macaroni salad, pickled beets, or pickled red cabbage work nicely too. For a hot accompaniment, sauerkraut simmered with smoky bacon, chopped onions, dry vermouth, and apple juice works beautifully. Serving it without bread would be criminal.
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