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Friday 6 January 2012

Waitrose Slow Cooked Smoked Texas-Style Beef Brisket

As part of my continuing exploration of beef, I am now casting a semi-regular eye over the meat counters at supermarkets, just to see what's on offer. At the very least, I find interesting-sounding cuts that I'd never before heard of (feather steaks? Seriously?) but there are also some packaged, pre-prepared delicacies that are worth a look.

It's been my experience of slow-cooked meats - particularly beef and pork (Thank you, Bodean's!) - that they are far more tender than even the most tenderised rare steak. One would not normally expect meat to offer a 'melt in your mouth' experience, but that's precisely what this does. That's one of the reasons I was rather disappointed by my one foray (so far) into Iceland's 'Tendercooked...' line.

The packaging explains that this is "tender beef, rubbed with salt and pepper, smoked over hickory wood then slow cooked for ten hours", and that it can be heated either on a barbecue (if the weather is right!) or in the oven (far more realistic, if you live in England). Cooking instructions are simple and thoroughly explained, and so I was able to cook both the beef and some roast potatoes (and, yes, blast some veg in the microwave) to create a rounded dinner out of it.

Flavour-wise, this is pretty much what I was hoping for with my half-hearted steak marinade. More fool me, I guess. While this has the overall flavour I would expect from beef, it has none of the mustiness. While it's not as moist as a rare/medium steak, it is by no means dry. The salt component of the rub isn't very noticeable, but the pepper turns up as fairly large chunks of peppercorn which add nicely to both the flavour and the texture. It's also surprisingly lean (though perhaps this is more to do with my unfamiliarity with this cut of beef), so I didn't have to spend any time haphazardly cutting off slabs of fat.

It's easy to slice, but it could just as easily be pulled apart so there is no shortage of options for serving. I did a quick and simple roast potato and veg accompaniment only because it was quick and simple... for next time, I may look up some alternative options, but the one that sprung most readily to mind was shredding it and wrapping it an a tortilla with some sliced veg... some kind of sauce... and maybe grated cheese...

At £14.99 per kilogram, this half kilogram seemed comparatively over-the-odds but, having served up a few thick slices, I'm reasonable confident that it'll be sandwich fillings for another few days, so it presents better value for money than most of the steaks I've tried so far. The simple fact that I'll definitely be able to eat the whole thing, where a steak always seems to generate some wastage, means I'll happily fork out for this again in future... In fact, while they aren't recommended for freezing, the Best Before date suggests they're good for almost 2 weeks in the fridge, so I might even stock up.

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