Rolled Brisket is a traditional oven braised dish from England that takes 5-6 hours to cook and has many steps from start to finish. This version produces a fantastic, tender brisket with few steps. The longer, lower heat cooking of a smoker allows for the breaking down of the muscle structure allowing for a melt in your mouth dish that will have people requesting it for years to come.
Smoking meats is one of the oldest styles of cooking known to man. When man discovered fire the door was opened to a wider variety of foods because now what was eaten could be cooked. First, we had spit roasting and ash cooking, the disadvantage to this was having to constantly monitor the food being cooked and it had to be turned regularly or one side would be burnt and the other side would be raw. The first advancement was the steam pit. A steam pit is a hole dug in the ground and lined with rocks, then a fire is built and allowed to burn down to coals, then a thick layer of green grass is lain over the coals, the items to be cooked are placed on top of the grass, then covered with more grass, and then the pit was covered with dirt to hold in the heat. It is an effective method to cook but it doesn’t produce a beautifully caramelized outer surface on the meat.
Next came smoking meats, it is an indirect heat method that allows for a longer cooking time with the items being cooked to be heated up and flavored with smoke and cooked without it being directly over or in the fire. Smoking meat became the most common way to cook and preserve meat literally for thousands of years.
With the advent of metalworking, humanity was able to develop new ways to cook food without the need for smoking the meats, but if they were going to be kept, they still needed to be smoked. It wasn’t until the invention of stoves that could control the temperature, and refrigeration and freezing that smoking meats went from a common practice of almost every butcher shop to being a niche industry where people are having to relearn processes that were lost due to technological advances. Today, we have electric smokers, propane smokers, charcoal smokers, wood smokers, pellet smokes, etc. All are trying to relearn the art of smoking meats. Thankfully, our forefathers had enough insight to write down what they had done in the past to allow us to bring back this incredible way of cooking.