Ranch Baby turned One (click here for gratuitous cake-face pics). According to my Babycenter.com emails, I should probably change that moniker to “Ranch Toddler”, but it’s my blog, and I don’t have to do nothing. And if I call him RB until he’s 25, I can because I’m the mom. I birthed him, fed him, and keep him from harming himself as he be-bops around finding every high-height and non-food item on the ranch to try. All day. E’ry day.
In honor of RB’s big day, we threw the obligatory big party here at the ranch. Don’t get me wrong, Rancher and I are very enthusiastic parents. We take a million photos. We get sucked in by the cuteness on a daily basis. But Summer is already pretty busy y’all. It took me forever to finally pull the trigger on a certain date. Then, I put off actually doing anything about it for another couple of weeks. Here is how the planning and execution of RB’s party went from there:
Two-weeks out: I happened to take a trip into civilization, probably deep down because I was procrastinating party planning. Stopped at Party City. Cleaned out the Star Wars party décor section. Theme set. Contracted willing M-I-L and nephew to make special cake. I Facebook-Event and emailed invitations (not even cute digi-invites, straight gmail) to this shindig, I wasn’t about to break my self-imposed baking moratorium (Rancher, chagrined).
One and a half weeks out: Make menu to plan shopping. This is in my wheelhouse, so it took about 5 minutes and I automatically felt more organized and ready to party. Settled on a mash up of store-bought stuff my mom could grab at Costco on her way out here and a few simple things I like making anyway: Brisket, 7 layer taco dip, and bacon wrapped Jalapeno popper thingies.
One week out: Go to town to buy groceries. Have mini melt down about landscaping. Pull some weeds. Buy enough bark to cover my anxiety and lack of gardening skill. RB gets his first haircut. We are getting somewhere.
Fast-forward: Menu planning and plastic party décor choice pays off. Eighty-percent of everything is done and ready to go the day before. It’s the only way to fly. And I have the mighty, economical, set and forget beef brisket to thank for it. I could also thank The Pioneer Woman – Ree Drummond for the incredibly easy, crowd-friendly recipe I’m about to share my variation on.
Before I forget, seriously my big point is, preparing food for a large gathering can be easy, also cheap, and also freakin tasty, and brisket is a great way to get there. Check out all this love Prevention Magazine just gave the Brisket – there is bound to be a recipe in here that speaks to you in a low, slow, 250-degree roasty voice.
Birthday Party Beef Brisket is inspired by PW’s Passover Brisket. I encourage you to take the link. I basically just “Summer-fied” it by putting it on the electric smoker outside instead of steaming up the kitchen all day. I also take the zippier route with a part ketchup, part chili sauce mix and use the Onion Soup Mix as a rub.
If there is one thing that has gotten through this thick skull over time is that it is impossible to be a great grill master and hostess at the same time. And it’s not even fun to try. The brisket route is much more enjoyable than standing at the grill making hamburgers and hot dogs to-order for pool soaked munchkins who are only eating because their parents are making them. And can we just stop for a sec and acknowledge how preparing and placing out condiments and toppings is super annoying? No one ever says “I wanna separate lettuce leaves and keep mayonnaise iced down when I grow up.” Unless you want to be a caterer, which is actually a pretty fantastic calling. End thought.
Here is the recipe, noting I accomplished steps 1-4 the day before, leaving only steps 5-6 to do right before party people arrived.
1 whole Beef Brisket, Trimmed Of All Fat (5 To 8 Pounds)
1 bottle Ketchup
1 bottle Chili Sauce
2 packages Lipton’s Beefy Onion Soup Mix
As many cheap, small hamburger buns as you need
Optional toppings: dill pickle slices, crunchy onion straws, cheddar cheese
1. Place trimmed brisket into a large roasting pan. I used a “throw away” foil pan. Don’t do this, the brisket is too heavy for the pan not to buckle when you try to transfer it out of the smoker. Rub contents of both Onion Soup packages on both sides of the brisket.
2. Turn smoker onto smoke setting (temperature should stay between 180-200 degrees), put the brisket in the smoker with the lid down and let smoke for about 4 hours.
3. After the brisket has smoked as long as you prefer, dump the bottles of ketchup and chili sauce on top of the brisket, cover tightly with aluminum foil. Turn smoker up to 225 degrees, and let cook for another 6 hours. Brisket should be fork-tender.
4. For day-of enjoyment: remove Brisket from pan, carve across the grain. Return to pan with ketchup sauce.
5. For next-day use: Store covered in fridge overnight. Remove 30 minutes before serving. Skim separated fat off surface of sauce (it’s firm and orange, you can’t miss it) if desired. Remove brisket. Carve across the grain. Return to sauce. Bring it back to a warm serving temperature in the oven at 300 degrees for 30 minutes.
6. Sprinkle with crunchy onion straws, set out with buns and pickles for guests to DIY their sandwiches.
Brisket also got some love on the local tube this Summer too! From Seattle to Spokane, Brisket is famous.