Food waste is a big problem – both for the environment and your wallet. But it also hurts to throw away food you put so much effort into. Especially when what’s going in the bin is as delicious as a good brisket.
The good news is there’s no shortage of creative ways to revitalise your leftovers – from quick and easy options to gourmet recipes that will amaze your dinner guests. But before we share some of our favourite leftover brisket ideas, a few words on the importance of avoiding food waste.
Why you shouldn’t waste brisket
Up to 30–50% of our food supply is wasted. Food waste is estimated to cost the average American family $1,600 a year, but behind the personal cost, that’s also a lot of water poured, pesticides sprayed, and methane released just to throw food away. The US EPA even estimates that food waste is responsible for 14% of methane emissions – a gas 26 times more detrimental to our environment than carbon dioxide.
It might take a little extra work, but once you’ve gotten used to planning your meals better and learning how to properly store and safely reheat leftovers, cultivating your zero-waste kitchen will become second nature. And if you still need further convincing, just remember that making the most out of your leftovers can also be a massive time saver.
Brisket is a particularly painful cut of meat to throw away as it takes hours to cook, so let’s talk about why it takes so long.
What is a brisket?
Brisket is a cut of beef or veal taken from the breast or lower chest of the animal. It tends to be quite muscly as it supports more than half of the cattle’s body weight, which means it demands long and careful cooking in order to ensure that it’s properly tenderised.
As you can imagine, that means you’re unlikely to have brisket for one. It tends to be reserved for celebratory occasions, particularly in the US. It’s historically been a focal point for Jewish holiday feasts like Rosh Hashanah and Passover, but it’s also famous for being the national dish of Texas, where it’s slow smoked over the barbeque.
The two most common ways to cook brisket are smoking and braising, resulting in very different results. Braised brisket is usually made from the first cut, which is significantly leaner, whereas the much fattier second cut is used for smoking as the extra fat helps to keep it moist throughout the lengthy smoking process.
Leftover brisket recipe ideas
There are many great ways to save that leftover brisket, from nacho and mac ‘n’ cheese toppings to stuffed peppers and breakfast hashes. Here are a few of our favourite leftover brisket recipes, including chili, tacos and casserole.
Leftover brisket chili
If you’ve also got canned beans in the pantry, a bottle of beer in the fridge, and some coffee leftover from your morning pot, then try this fantastic leftover brisket chili recipe, courtesy of Mary Cressler at Vindulge.
3 slices of bacon, diced
1 large onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely diced
2 ½ cups leftover smoked beef brisket, cubed
3 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp cumin
½ tbsp chipotle seasoning (or canned chipotle)
1.2 tbsp smoked paprika
1 bottle of beer
¼ cup coffee
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce
½ can black beans, drained
½ can kidney beans, drained
½ can corn, drained
1 small green chili, diced
Sauté bacon in a large pot over medium heat until crispy. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and reserve for later.
Add onions and cook until soft. Then add bell pepper and garlic and cook for an additional minute.
Add the meat and dry seasonings. Cook for one more minute.
Pour in the beer, allow it to deglaze the pan, and cook off the alcohol for a couple of minutes.
Add the coffee, tomatoes, beans, corn, green chili, and the reserved bacon. Then bring to a low simmer, cover, and cook for an hour.
Serve topped with sour cream or grated cheddar cheese.