Mostly about food, this blog is just a place for me to throw things that are of interest to me. I appreciate you taking the time to stop by an look around. This represents just some of the stops on the various pathways that this amateur home cook finds himself.

You may find that these foods tend toward protein and away from carbohydrates - this is due to diabetic issues, so I try to only sparingly use carbs, and good ones at that. Of course, sometimes I forget....

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Shredded Beef

Easy, inexpensive, juicy and full of flavor!

There are many cuts of beef used for making shredded meat, from top round to chuck roast. Hardly anyone uses brisket, because of its reputation for being so tough. Well, like so many other things, it’s more how you cook it. Brisket is not only full of beefy flavor, it is usually about the cheapest large cut of meat available. Let’s work some magic on it.

First you have to prepare the brisket for cooking. You can’t just take it out of the package and throw it in a pot. Remove the unwanted fat and other stuff, as described here. Then you’ll want to season the meat on all sides fairly well with fresh ground black pepper. We aren’t using any salt at this point for a couple of reasons. We are going to be reducing the cooking liquid, which would tend to make it saltier and saltier. Also, salt will draw moisture out of meat, that’s even an ancient technique for preserving it, so we don’t want to dry it out. Finally, we can always add it later, but you can’t take it out if you overdo it.

Next, you want to identify the grain direction in the meat. In the picture above, you can see that it runs from the upper left to lower right. You will then want to cut the meat in strips directly across the grain, each strip being a little wider than you want the final shredded meat to be. It is a lot easier to cut to length now than after it is cooked when it is so loose. Below you see pictures of both a brisket flat (top) and point (bottom) which have been peppered and sliced against the grain.

Now you can get out your 10” or larger Dutch oven, and add 16 oz. (one can) of beef broth, using reduced or no sodium if available and the same amount of water. Turn the heat to medium or medium-low. After that, into the pot goes the meat. It is okay if it’s not completely submerged, you’ll be moving it around later.

Cover the pot and let it cook at a low boil / simmer, rearranging the meat and adding liquid as needed about once an hour. After 3 to four hours, you will find that the meat has become quite tender, similar to a good pot roast. After 5 or 6 hours, you’ll find that the meat is falling-apart tender. Time to carefully fish it out.

Using two forks take out the pieces of meat one at a time and shred them. Continue this until the meat is all shredded. You will end up with a large pile of goodness like this:

As you shred each chunk of meat, put the finished shreds back into the cooking liquid to keep it moist, because once shredded it can dry out fairly quickly. One of the advantages of de-fatting the meat prior to cooking is that you don't end up with all that grease in the broth that remains. You will eventually end up with a nice big pot of shredded goodness. Use it from here, or you can prep to refrigerate or freeze it in portions, liquid included. Whatever you do, just be sure to keep it very moist, or you’ll end up with shredded jerky.

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