Brisket Waffle Fries
Leftover pulled pork is a common thing in my freezer, and that's proven by the amount of recipes on this site devised just use it up. I can't say the same is true for brisket, and it's not that I don't have a ton of ideas of how to use that beefy, smoky meat, but I don't make brisket as often, and when I do, it's usually when I'm expecting a large crowd and my leftover portions are small or non-existent. For 4th of July this year, I really wanted some Texas-style brisket, but with the pandemic on, I wasn't about to invite all my friends over to help eat. So, for once, I had ample amounts of leftovers on hand and finally got to act on some concepts I had jotted down over the years starting with these brisket waffle fries.
Goes to figure that the one time I'm making brisket for only two people, my only options at the store were either a 17- or 18-pound slab of beef. I chose the lesser, but it was still massive—so big it didn't really fit into my Weber bullet and I had to scrunch it up to get it to fit. After trimming the brisket, the rest of the prep was done in true minimal Texas fashion using only salt and pepper.
A giant brisket meant there was a ton of fat removed as part of the trimming. It would have been a waste to toss all that deliciousness, so I saved it and rendered it into cooking fat while the brisket continued to smoke into the next day.
Rendering beef fat isn't hard, it just takes a long time. To prep it for the process, I first broke it down into small pieces by giving it whirl in the food processor. Then I placed all the fat in a dutch oven set over medium-low heat and just let it cook pretty much all day. The fat is fully rendered when the remaining solid bits start to darken, which took a total six hours to happen for me. Once done and cooled a bit, I strained the fat into jars which I placed in the fridge, where the originally yellow liquid turned into a white solid once fully chilled.
I like to smoke my briskets to 203°F, which took this one 16 hours to reach cooking at 225°F. About 10 hours into the cook, I wrapped the beef in butcher paper, and once done, I let it rest in the Cambro for a couple hours before slicing and eating. The end product was certainly worth the wait with wonderfully tender meat nestled in luscious and delicious fat that paired great with the peppery crust. My wife and I only ate a couple slices that day, then I portioned the rest out, vacuum sealed them up, and placed them in freezer until ready to turn into something else.
Wanting brisket was only half of the reason behind the origins of this recipe, the other half was a desire to try out the crinkle cutting blade on my mandoline. I was thinking I was going to get the fat waffle fries I'm used to, but the depth of the blade actually made the thinner version, which I thought might be even better because it would lead to more crispness in the final product.
After letting my sliced potatoes sit in water for a bit to remove excess starch, I started them on their double fry journey. I cooked them first in the beef tallow heated to a relatively low 325°F, which let the potatoes soften without browning. Each batch took about five minutes to go from stiff to limp, and as they were done, I placed the cooked spuds on a large paper towel-lined sheet pan.
The second fry happened in fat that was heated to 400°F, and at that temperature, they browned and crisped pretty quickly. It was probably me, but I'll blame my mandoline for not cutting the potatoes to an even thickness, leading to uneven browning during cooking. At first I was a little dismayed at how they were looking, but after tasting a couple, I actually dug how there were areas of extra-crispiness along with the more usual crisp-tender portions.
Once all done, I piled the fries into a couple heat-proof serving bowls and then adorned the spuds with a generous amount of brisket followed by cheddar cheese—I would have usually grated my cheese, but I had deli-sliced cheddar I needed to use up in the fridge. I then placed the bowls under the broiler just long enough to melt the cheese, then took them out and quickly finished topping them, which consisted of a little more brisket, barbecue sauce, scallions, pickled red onions, and fresh jalapeño slices.
I had made something similar last year with pulled pork, which was pretty awesome, but this bowl of smoked meat fries blew those out of the water. First, brisket is greater than pulled pork in my opinion, but those waffle fries were really what made a big difference. My wife commented that it was kind of more like nachos in that you could pull up a large, crispy fry that's hardly topped, much like a tortilla chip. The combo of flavors was spot on for the beefy brisket with the cheese doing its sharp and creamy thing, scallions adding a little freshness to the party, pickled red onions cutting through the fat, barbecue sauce lending a sweet touch, and jalapeños giving a good kick of heat that persisted until you hit a fry that had another pepper slice on it. When I first brought home a 17-pound monster piece of beef for just two people, it felt really excessive, but seeing as how this one piece of meat already made two fantastic dinners, I kind of feel like maybe I should have gone for the even bigger one.
Brisket Waffle Fries
- Yield 4 servings
- Prep 10 Minutes
- Cook 40 Minutes
- Total 50 Minutes
- For the Waffle Fries
- 3 large russet potatoes, scrubbed and sliced into a thin waffle cut using a mandoline
- 2 cups beef tallow, peanut oil, or canola oil
- 2 cups beef tallow, peanut oil, or canola oil Kosher salt
- 2 cups chopped smoked brisket, reheated if necessary
- 6 oz cheddar cheese, grated
- 1/2 cup barbecue sauce
- 1/2 cup sliced fresh scallions
- 1/4 cup pickled red onions
- 2 medium jalapeños, sliced
- To make the fries: Place sliced potatoes in a large bowl and cover with cold water. Heat beef tallow or oil in a wok or large dutch oven over medium heat to 325°F. Working in 4 to 5 batches as necessary, remove potatoes from water, drain, and transfer to oil. Fry until potatoes are tender, but not browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined baking sheet. Repeat until all potatoes are cooked.
- Increase heat to medium-high and bring oil to 400°F. Working in batches, fry potatoes again until golden brown and crispy, about 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined baking sheet and season with salt to taste. Repeat until all potatoes are cooked.
- Heat broiler to high. Transfer fries to a large baking sheet or a couple of heat-proof medium serving bowls. Top fries with 3/4 of the brisket and cheddar cheese. Transfer baking sheet or bowls to oven and cook just until cheese is melted, about a minute. Remove from oven and top with remaining brisket, barbecue sauce, scallions, pickled red onions, and jalapeño slices. Serve immediately.