The house represents what we ourselves would like to be on earth: permanent, rooted, here for eternity. But a camp represents the true reality of things: we’re just passing through.” - Roger Deakin
Lumberland Recipes: Best Made Brisket
Beef is almost always on the menu in some form at Lumberland, and we’re especially proud of our brisket. Brisket can be a tough piece of meat, and we cook it slow and wet. Now, there are any number of ways to cook a brisket, and we’re sure there are some folks from Texas and St Louis that might have some rather strong objections to our method. But this ain’t Texas, or St Louis. This is Lumberland.
Best Made Brisket
(serves 4 hungry folks who have been cutting and chopping wood all day):
What you will need:
A hardwood fire
4-5 lb beef brisket
8 slices of bacon
3 beers (we prefer Sierra Nevada Pale Ale)
1 cup BBQ sauce (we like Bone Suckin’ Sauce)
2 large onions, sliced
6 cloves garlic, diced or mashed
1 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon each: salt, pepper, seasoning
12” dutch oven
Depending on the size of your brisket, you may need to cut it in half for it to fit comfortably in your dutch oven. Mix together 1/2 cup brown sugar with a tablespoon each of salt, pepper, and whatever other seasoning you’d like (we like cayenne!) Rub all sides of your brisket with this mixture and set aside. Cook up the bacon in the dutch oven, pulling the bacon out before it gets too crispy. With the rendered bacon grease in the bottom, get your dutch nice and hot for searing the meat—but not too hot lest you start a grease fire. Sear the brisket for 3-4 minutes on each side and pull it out.
Now throw in the onions and garlic to soften in the dutch for 5-10 minutes. Place your brisket on top of the onions (stack the two brisket halves if needed), fat side up and place the pre-cooked bacon on top. Pour all the beers (reserving a little for yourself of course) along with the remaining BBQ sauce and brown sugar over the meat and cover the dutch with the lid.
Cook the brisket in the dutch at a low temperature—around 225 F. Clear the center of the fire pit by moving the burning logs and coals to the perimeter of the pit creating a ring of fire. Leave a few coals in the center and place that dutch oven down, down, down, in to that burning ring of fire. Place a few pieces of burning logs or coals on top of the dutch oven to give it heat from all directions. The brisket will need to cook like this for a couple of hours. Tend the fire to keep it slow and low. Resist the urge to build the fire up too high.
Unlike a nice cut of steak, it’s ok, and desirable, to cook brisket all the way through and beyond. Our method for checking for doneness is the same as advocated by the famous Cee Dubs; if it smells done, it probably is done, if it smells burnt, it probably is burnt, and if you don’t smell nothin’ it probably ain’t done yet.
When you, and your nose, have decided the brisket is done, remove the dutch oven from the fire, but do not uncover it yet! Rebuild your fire in the center of the fire ring, get it blazing hot and replace the grill grate. Once the fire is really going, finish the brisket by grilling again over the open fire to give the brisket a nice crisp and flavorful crust.
Remove the brisket from the grill and let it rest for 15 minutes before carving against the grain and serving with a spoonful of the delicious fixings left in the dutch. Kick back with another beer and revel in the silence that comes when everyone’s mouth is too full to talk.
The Beauty in the Details: Crafting the Best Made Edge
“The best way to learn the value of a well crafted tool is to try using a poorly crafted one.” — Unknown
A few weeks ago we took a couple of our restoration axes up to our secret hideout in Lumberland, NY for their first taste of wood. It could have been years, possibly decades since these axes had dined on such a feast: boy were they hungry! In addition to the love and attention we’d given them cleaning free the rust and fitting them with new helves, we spent some quality time giving them blazingly sharp edges. To use such a sharp axe is truly a joy. The efficiency with which they cut is only paralleled by the respect that they demand. You can see for yourself in these pictures: the incisions into the wood demonstrate an immaculate, uncanny — almost scalpel like — precision. Half the energy was expended to cut through 14” of a dead hardwood log that would be required with an axe with a mildly inferior edge. Every last degree of infinitesimal sharpness that was bestowed on these axes meant exponentially greater effectiveness of cutting.
Sharpness is a science at Best Made, and has definitely been on our minds lately, and you can expect more details on how to obtain an edge like this on your own axe in the near future. Keep your eyes peeled here. In the meantime: Stay Sharp.
Lumberland Diaries, Fall 2011: The Characters
It’s high time to reveal some of the characters behind our North woods circus school in Lumberland, New York: (l-r): Ben Lavely, Peter Buchanan-Smith, Hunter Craighill, and don’t forget the two Best Made axes — Royal Standard & Hushabye Baby — and the mother of them all, the Disston crosscut saw.
Lumberland Diaries, Fall 2011: Slacking Off
This past Saturday we awoke in a frosty Lumberland and, with the help of our two-ton come along hand winch, and a few big pines, we got the adrenaline flowing and my cousin Angus’s slack line tighter than a banjo.
It’s not that we need more things to do up at Lumberland, but the slack line is a wonderful distraction, a great way to hone our coordination and core strength, all while having a few good laughs. — Peter Buchanan-Smith