Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Smoked Brisket Benedict & White Oak Jai Alai

Two very exciting things happened this week.  The first was that I had some distinguished beer guests visit from Denmark.  I'll keep their identities under wraps for now but if you know anything about the craft beer world, you probably guessed at the mention of "distinguished" and "beer" and "Denmark" … and you're probably damned impressed!  I know I was!  I'd promised them a barbecue feast and in my unbridled enthusiasm procured a slightly enormous, fifteen pound brisket.  Of course fifteen pounds is far more than any four men could consume in one sitting (even hungry ones and even those of hearty viking descent) but I was excited and thus went a tad overboard.  So, home came the mighty piece of meat were it smoked for a solid twelve hours and was shared with my new friends alongside baked beans, good camaraderie and whiskey sours.  It was a terrific afternoon that I felt truly privileged to host and though we got through a respectable amount of the meat, at meal's end there was plenty left over.

Sarah and I had brisket and horseradish sandwiches three nights in a row and when Monday morning rolled around there was a much more manageable slab left (actually, truth be told, it was rather small - what can I say, Sarah and I know how to put back some brisket).

If you remember my Short Rib Hash post, you already know that I love the idea of barbecue (and beer!) for breakfast.  Treat your leftovers with respect, I always say and when you've smoked a beautiful brisket to perfection don't waste even a scrap of it!  With this in mind, I constructed an eggs Benedict to rival all Benedicts … the Smoked Brisket Benedict!

That's right, in case hollandaise sauce and egg yolks aren't quite rich enough, add some smokey brisket, fried and sizzling just like bacon.

All that fatty richness is great but it does need something to balance it.  I added fresh tomatoes for a little acidity and then Sarah and I had a big debate about whether or not to also add raw red onion.  Typically I DO NOT like raw onion.  It's too sharp and intense it usually overpowers most other ingredients.  Sarah loves them.  She eats them with everything and doesn't care who she breaths on afterwards (usually me).  So she was obviously pro red onion and after I considered just how much richness there was to this dish, I agreed.  And I'm glad I did - it needed it!  My advice would be to slice the onion fairly thin but use plenty of it.  This dish can take it!

The tomatoes and onions were nice and definitely helped to cut the fat but they couldn't do it alone.  Nope, I needed a good hoppy beer to finish the job.  Which brings me to the second exciting thing that happened this week …

A care package from my beer aficionado and fellow enthusiast, cousin Nick!  It was as if Christmas had come early.  Just look at that haul!  Thank you Nick!  I chose Jai Alai, an IPA from Cigar City Brewery, because I knew it had a good hop content and would have great palate cleansing qualities.  In fact, the pairing was so good,  Sarah and I likely ate more Benedict than necessary, both of us cleaning our plates with gusto.


Smoked Brisket Benedict

2 Vine ripe tomato, large dice
1/4 Red onion, sliced thin
1/2 lb. Smoked brisket, sliced thick
4 Eggs
1 Tbsp. Malt vinegar
2 English muffins, halved and toasted
1 C. Hollandaise sauce (directions below)
Parsley for garnish

For Hollandaise:
4 Egg yolks
1 Tbsp. Lemon juice
8 Tbsp. Butter, melted

Set up a double boiler by filling a large pot halfway with water and placing a large metal bowl on top.  Bring the water to a boil over high heat.  Whisk the egg yolks and lemon juice until incorporated in the metal bowl of the double boiler. To prevent the yolks from scrambling whisk continuously and slowly pour the melted butter into the yolks.  If necessary, pull the mixture off the heat while whisking and return to heat so the Hollandaise can thicken and finish.  Add salt to taste.

Bring a saute pan to high heat.   Slice the brisket (medium thickness) in long, even pieces and sear about two minutes per side.  Toast English Muffin to prefered color.  Using the water from the double boiler add the 1 Tbsp. of malt vinegar and turn down to a simmer.  Crack the egg into a small bowl or ramekin and slowly and gently place the egg into the simmering water.  Cover and let the egg sit for 5 minutes.

Build the Benedict by laying seared brisket on the English muffin, followed by tomatoes, red onion, the poached egg and Hollandaise sauce.  Garnish with parsley and serve immediately.

Pairing Notes
White Oak Jai Alai
7.5% ABV

This beer pours a copper orange with a very creamy white head.  The aroma is strong with notes of honey, sweet mango, and guava.  The taste is very similar to the aroma with tropical notes that are highlighted by the sweet malts and that pop all the hoppiness. The oak adds a dry quality that intensifies the hops and keeps the malts from lingering too long.

I chose this beer mainly for the hops and their fat cutting abilities.   They work to refresh the mouth after each bite of the rich brisket, egg yolk and the butteriness of the Hollandaise.  Not only does the intense hop profile sweep the richness from palate but the fattiness counters the malts and lets the tropical notes shine through for an extended period.  The dryness of the white oak only intensifies the the smokiness and char of the brisket while the malt backbone is mirrored by the toasted breadiness of the English Muffin.


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