The temperature hovered around 90 degrees Fahrenheit in Prague this weekend and our apartment is on the top floor, with lots of windows and absolutely no A/C. So, you could say that cranking an oven up to 300° for five hours and 400° for another hour and a half would not be in most families’ plans. However, we’re not most families. We are meat loving Texas BBQ freaks by nature. We miss ribs and brisket. If we don’t get ribs and brisket, we get cranky. So, heat be damned, we made ribs and brisket.
I’ve been making Coca-Cola Brisket for years but have finally perfected it. I have a pretty basic dry rub that I use that consists of paprika, cumin, S&P, garlic and chili powder. It does the trick for me and doesn’t include any weird (to my palate) aromatics like cinnamon or ginger. It’s what I imagine cowboys using after rustling cattle all day. And man, it just works. That, a 5 pound fatty brisket and a few ounces of Coke and it’s cooking time.
Now this is the part I had to kind of tinker with over the years. For years I cooked it with the heat too low. It was always tasty but too tough. Somewhere I saw a recipe that said I should cook it a 225 F. Little did I know, that wasn’t hot enough to melt all the fat and make the brisket fork tender – how it should be. So, I did a little more research online and found that fat melts between 275 and 300 and still keeps the meat moist. That did it. The brisket we had this weekend was better than many of the briskets that I sampled on my last swing through Texas. I know you don’t believe me, but it’s true. There was just one thing missing – smoke.
However, I took care of the smoke quotient on my second dish, ribs, by cheating with impunity. I used a bottle of liquid smoke that Fredericksburg Flash and Mrs. Flash had imported on one of their recent trips to Prague. (To see the more traditional, smoky route taken, check out Scamp’s post here.) For the ribs, I used the same rub plus a couple of tablespoons of instant coffee and a few dashes of liquid smoke on the ribs. I put them in a baking dish and poured in a bottle of dark Krušovice beer that I had boiled to reduce by 1/2. After covering the pan tightly with foil, I put those babies in a 400° oven for 1.5 hours and watched as Ma NH put the finishing touches on some ‘tater salad and doctored a can of baked beans.
The ribs were barely clinging to the bone as I took them out of the oven. Mrs. NH, not a huge rib fan (she doesn’t like things still on the bone – the McRib demographic?), sampled some of the meat that I pulled off one of the costillas. She was floored. I don’t even bother finishing these things on the grill. The beer and rub give them so much flavor that even a quick dip in BBQ sauce is completely optional.
I congratulated myself loudly through the entire meal. I think it’s time to have our Prague friends over for an oven BBQ. This meat combo, Mrs. NH’s potato salad, a cooler of cold beer and a peach pie made with my Grandma’s recipe could make any summer heat tolerable. Even if you happen to also be standing next to a 400 degree oven.