Monday, May 24, 2010

Suitcase Meat

On our trip to Texas in April, my husband and I decided to bring back some of the foodstuffs that we can't get here in DC.  The most important item for us was barbeque beef brisket.  Not only can we not get large beef briskets at good prices, but we also don't have a smoker.  We had a craving as we had not had good barbeque since our wedding in October, and our friends were clamoring for us to bring some barbeque back.

So, on the first day of our trip, we purchased a 12 pound beef brisket at HEB.  My dad seasoned it and smoked it for several hours over mesquite wood.

Then, we wrapped the cooked brisket carefully and placed it in the freezer it for the remainder of our trip.  The next step was insuring safe passage and TSA allowance.  After several hours of research and a call to the airline, we decided that we would wrap the brisket in plastic, pad it with styrofoam, and pack it in a hard-sided suitcase.  With a trip to Goodwill, we scored a large American Tourister suitcase for 9 bucks.

We made sure it was frozen solid before packing and well insulated and padded for travel.  I was a nervous wreck for the entire trip home.  We decided to check the hard-sided meat suitcase.  I was sure that TSA was going to have a problem with this large mass of aluminum foil and plastic wrap, and our brisket was going to be confiscated.  We didn't get called back from the gate, so once we boarded the plane I focused my anxiety on the thoughts that the meat suitcase wasn't going to make the connecting flight and our plans for a barbeque feast would be crushed.

Well, I'm thrilled to report that the brisket made it safe and sound.  With all the insulation, it stayed frozen through our extended trip to our great relief.  We popped it in our freezer and began planning the special feast in which we would share the brisket with our friends.

We hosted a small dinner for a few friends this weekend to serve the special suitcase meat.  I'd never frozen barbeque before, so I wasn't quite sure how to reheat it.  We knew we would use the oven to warm it, but we wanted to be careful not to dry out the meat.  It was fully cooked, we just wanted it warm for serving.  After a bit of debate, we landed on a strategy.

We defrosted the large brisket for two days in the refrigerator.  About two hours before we wanted to eat, we unwrapped the brisket and put in a roasting pan.

It smelled absolutely wonderful with spice and mesquite smoke, and I had dogs pacing at my feet as I unwrapped it.  I combined two cups of beef broth with some of the secret spices I would have put on a brisket to barbeque, and poured it over the meat and let it pool in the bottom of the roasting pan.

Then, I covered it with foil, making sure that it was tightly covering the ends so that they would not dry out too much.  I put it in a 225 degree F oven for almost two hours.  When it was warm enough for us, my husband carved the meat and my brother started grabbing before I could take a picture.  They didn't give me a chance to take a composed picture, but I think it looks darn good.  And, it was very tasty. 



  1. Best suitcase meat I've ever eaten!!! ;-) Do we get another round next time you go to Texas?

  2. Of course! That is why we bought the hard-side carnagge, or meat suitcase. Now that we have a system, I think we will bring wider varieties of suitcase meats.

  3. I think Suitcase Meat would be a good name for a band.