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Brisket with Berbere & Whiskey Barbecue Sauce

April 27, 2015

By Kath Dedon


Brisket with Berbere & Whiskey Barbecue Sauce turned out to be even more delicious than the recipe sounded! I’d had my eye on it in Amanda Bevill and Julie Kramis Hearne’s World Spice at Home ever since I had received the book and it’s Flavor Companion of spices for my birthday last December. (Thank you, Joan!)

I was planning the menu for a small birthday dinner for Rhett and I asked Carrie what she thought he would like. She replied, “Well, he loves beef!” Bingo! I knew the time had come to try this recipe.

The beef rub does contain a couple of unusual ingredients: Berbere (pronounced “bur-bur-uh”), which is an Ethiopian spice blend, and smoked salt. I had the World Spice Berbere as part of the spice set that Joan included with the book. Amanda and Julie do give a recipe in their book to make your own Berbere, but it requires 14 ingredients to make a ½ cup. I am most likely to order a ½ cup of ground Berbere from World Spice when I run out.

I thought it might be hard to find smoked salt but apparently well-stocked grocery stores do carry it. I found three different kinds at my West Seattle Thriftway. I had to decide between Hickory Smoked Salt, Mesquite Smoked Salt, and Alder Smoked Salt. I chose Alder Smoked Salt. It is really fantastic and I think I’ll find many uses for it.

Once I had the ingredients, Brisket with Berbere & Whiskey Barbecue Sauce was very easy to make. It’s a slow, oven-braised dish that’s great for weekend entertaining.

We all loved this recipe! The brisket was tender and the sauce was rich and flavorful. It was perfect comfort food! If you have a special dinner coming up, I can’t recommend this recipe enough! It’s definitely worth the effort to gather the ingredients.


Brisket with Berbere & Whiskey Barbecue Sauce 2


Brisket with Berbere & Whiskey Barbecue Sauce

(Adapted from Amanda Bevill and Julie Kramis Hearne’s World Spice at Home)


(print the recipe)


Serves 6 – 8


Ingredients for the Whiskey Barbecue Sauce

Ingredients for Whiskey BBQ Sauce


For the sauce:

1 clove garlic, smashed

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

½ cup whiskey

½ cup orange juice

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

¼ cup maple syrup

1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon soy sauce (use wheat-free soy or tamari for gluten free)

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


For the beef:

3 tablespoons coarsely ground Berbere

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon smoked salt

3 pounds beef brisket

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil


1. Preheat oven to 300˚.

2. Make the barbecue sauce. Heat the 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add the smashed garlic and cook stirring for a minute or two, until fragrant.


The mallet that Bob’s brother, Mark, made from me made it easy to smash the garlic! 😉

smashed garlic


3. Add the rest of the sauce ingredients to the pan and stir well to combine. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

simmered BBQ sauce


4. Combine the Berbere, brown sugar, kosher salt, and smoked salt together in a small bowl. Then rub the mixture all over the brisket.

Berbere and smoked salt




brisket with spice rub


5. Heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large oven-safe skillet over medium. (Cast iron is ideal). Brown the brisket on both sides and then remove the skillet from the heat.

browning brisket


6. Pour the barbecue sauce over the brisket. Put a lid on the skillet and put it in the oven. Bake for 3 hours, or until the brisket is fork-tender.

sauce added


If you don’t have a lid, you could tightly cover the skillet with heavy duty foil.

put a lid on it


7. Remove the brisket from the pan and put it on a cutting board. Cover with foil and allow it to rest for 15 minutes.

8. While the brisket is resting, spoon off some of the fat that accumulates on the surface of the sauce. Heat the sauce over low heat, whisking it to blend it together.

9. Slice the brisket against the grain. (Check out this excellent tutorial from the kitchn if you’re not sure what it means to “slice against the grain”.) Serve with the barbecue sauce.


Tall Brisket with Berbere & Whiskey Barbecue Sauce 2


4 Comments leave one →
  1. April 28, 2015 7:15 am

    Good brisket is hard to come by! This looks so delicious!

    • April 28, 2015 7:27 am

      You’re so right! I actually ordered a 3 pound brisket at one of my favorite grocery stores so the meat department had it ready for me to pick up. 😉

  2. May 4, 2015 3:24 am

    I cannot wait to try this! You’re tempting me to scrap my meal plan and make this TONIGHT!

    • May 4, 2015 5:01 am

      I bet you won’t be disappointed, Dawn! I’m eager to make it again myself! 🙂

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