Looking for ways to eat meat cheaply? Look no further than a tasty cut of beef brisket. Read our buying and serving tips...
For all the talk about using cheaper cuts of meat, it's surprising brisket isn't easier to find. Many supermarkets don't sell it, so you may need to ask your butcher ahead of time to get your hands on it. However, you may find it at farmers' markets or online.
Brisket runs from the bottom of the neck down under the ribs. It's great for casseroles and pot-roasts, but is also much more versatile than that. In the USA it's very much associated with barbecue and smoking, as well as salt beef. John Torode, who has recently written a whole book on beef, says brisket's wide, comparatively thin and even shape makes it the best cut for pastrami; he also uses it for a daube-style dish with red wine, port, Guinness, spices and fish sauce.
Salted brisket served with a fiery beetroot and horseradish relish harks back to traditional Jewish fare. It's also delicious served with Asian flavours in Jill Dupleix's Chinese braised brisket with butternut squash and this simple stout-flavoured pot-roast.
Normally, however, I do a variation on a recipe from the late American food writer Lee Bailey. It's easy: you rub the meat all over with a mixture of Spanish smoked paprika, cumin, oregano, salt, sugar, pepper and fresh crushed garlic, wrap it in a double layer of foil and slow-roast it on a tray at 110°C for 4-7 hours, depending on the size of the joint. It doesn't really need gravy, though you can make one from all the luscious juices - I tend to save them to bung in soup a few days later.
Brisket is a cost-effective way of having hearty organic roasts more often, and if you like meat cooked well-done it's arguably the best cut to buy. It's not the same as sirloin or forerib, but it is good in its own way. A kilo of top-quality rolled, ready-to-roast brisket will cost £10 or less; the same of sirloin can be £20-£35, organic or not.
Another top tip is to try beef short ribs - they're simply brisket served on the bone. Try them slow-braised in a barbecue sauce, cooked until the meat falls off the bone. Carnivorous eating at its very best...
Try one of our beef brisket recipes...
Texas barbecue brisket
Pulled firecracker brisket
Pot-roasted brisket in beer with parsnips & mushrooms
Salt beef with beetroot & horseradish relish
Beef & vegetable casserole
Thai beef curry
Chinese braised beef with ginger
Asian short ribs with herb salad
BBQ beef short ribs with green apple salsa & fries