So you brined your brisket, overnight or not, and it came out somewhat saltier than planned?
Or even way saltier than planned? Like, you can taste more salt than the gorgeous meat you spent a ton of time prepping and smoking? And now, the finished product seems to be attracting deer like a salt lick?
Okay, maybe not that salty. But the point remains: you’ve got one salty brisket and you’re wondering what to do, if anything, to salvage it. Is there anything that can be done to make it delicious? Or is it a lost cause that should be tossed and serve as a reminder of what not to do next time?
Well, it’s a good thing you stopped by here. We’ve seen a fair share of salty briskets and understand your dilemma. We’re also aware of the temptation to drown your cut of meat in gravy or a sweet BBQ sauce.
Before doing that, though, let’s take a look at some options you have to reduce the salty taste without adding more salt or going overboard with the sugar.
Why So Salty?
Your brisket may be too salty for a host of reasons.
The first thing you must remember, though, is that most of the salt will have been retained in the bark and exterior layer of the brisket through the smoking process. Unless you did a brine or injection, the interior of your cut of meat should be pretty free from the added salt.
More than likely, the salt fault was committed during formulating your rub. It’s not uncommon to mistake a teaspoon and a tablespoon. If you went for a teaspoon of salt for every two pounds of meat but later realized you used a tablespoon, well, there’s the mistake. Again, though, the mistake is in the rub and the rub won’t penetrate the meat too deeply.
So, don’t worry about slicing up your brisket and trying to wash it out with a freshwater hose. There are more effective remedies to try.
Fatten It Up
If you haven’t sliced your brisket yet, grab some fat and see if you can knock down the salt taste using either butter or olive oil.
Don’t try dribbling it or hitting the brisket with squirt bottles. Use the tried and true basting method. Don’t only apply it to flat surfaces, but also give the cracks and crevices some attention. And try to avoid scrapping the bark if you can. It’s still good, though salty.
As your fat runs off, it might provide the added bonus of carrying some salt with it. However, be sure to use unsalted butter if you use it instead of oil.
Time to Give It a Quick Roast
Again, if you haven’t sliced up your brisket but also don’t have the butter or oil to use the fat fix, you can grab a roasting pan, plop the brisket into it, and add half a cup of water or zero sodium broth before popping it in the oven for a 20 – 30 minutes at 185-200°F (85-95°C).
The water or broth will work to break up and dilute the salt concentration and taste. The low-temperature setting will also ensure that your brisket stays warm and moist while reducing the risk of food bacteria developing.
However, the added water or broth can cause the bark to become soft (or worse, soggy) if left for too long. So, stay attentive.
No, you’re not going to use that kind of acid on your brisket.
Instead, we’re talking about the edible acid that also is immensely helpful in improving the flavor of food while counteracting an overabundance of salt. That’s right, we’re talking about vinegar.
Vinegar is best used in the form of a sauce. And it usually works best in knocking down the salt when the brisket has already been pulled or shredded. So if your brisket is still whole, don’t pop the cap on a jug of apple cider or any other types of vinegar, and try the basting or roasting methods first.
If it isn’t, go ahead and shred your meat and add a vinegar-based sauce. The combination of the vinegar and some sweet smokey flavor should quell the aggression of overly salted meat.
Sandwich It Up
There are far worse things than a brisket sandwich. Heck, people are more than happy to pay quite well for a tasty one. Why not treat yourself and others to a brisket sandwich option if other desalinization methods don’t work or aren’t feasible?
All you need is a few more ingredients, such as mayo or vinegar-based coleslaw. Thick sandwich buns or hoagie rolls will add another layer of defense.
One last way you can quickly salvage shredded brisket that’s been overly salted is to use the meat for tacos. You’ll need some tomato-based salsa and a little lime. The acid from both—and the tortilla—will quell the salt taste. Add a little cheese and shredded lettuce and you’re good to go.
Other dishes you can use your salty brisket for include stews, brisket, and egg breakfasts, and, of course, chili. The bottom line is that your brisket should be consumed, even if not in the way you originally intended.
Is Brining an Option for a Brisket?
Yes, we’ve covered how to recover a salty brisket from the clutches of failure, but it does beg the question: can you brine a brisket? After all, brining is a terrific option for poultry, especially a Thanksgiving turkey.
But a brisket?
But, as you’ve experienced first-hand, you have to pay great care and attention to not have your brisket come out overly salty. Always favor a dry brine over a wet brine; it simply yields better results. And for best results, use 2/3 of the dry rub and apply the rest right before putting the brisket in the smoker.
Having your brisket that you spent a ton of time prepping and smoking turn out too salty isn’t a good thing, but it’s far from the catastrophic disaster you might think it is when you take that first salty bite.
That being said, that doesn’t mean there’s a magic solution that will instantaneously make the ratio of salt return to a level it should have been at in the first place.
No, it’ll take some work to salvage your brisket. But the good news is there are options you can choose from, all of them tasty and well worth trying, rather than simply throwing the meat out or giving it to the dog.