She Wore A Yellow Apron: Jim McLain’s Big Beef Brisket

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This week’s recipe is named after the character Jim McLain in one of John Wayne’s non-Western films.  It’s one I have no memory of ever watching, but just to see if it looked familiar, I watched the trailer from 1952.  And, no, I have not seen this movie.  However, that doesn’t mean I have to ignore what looks like a pretty tasty recipe.  So for now, I am going to proceed making Jim McLain’s Big Beef Brisket…and consider watching the movie another day.

This looks like a pretty simple recipe but one that requires some time…about 4 hours to be a little more precise.  The first step of this recipe is to combine all the spices and rub them over the brisket.  Then I place the meat in a baking pan, slice an onion (not my favorite thing as you may remember) and place it on top of the beef.  Next, I make a mixture of barbecue sauce, brown sugar, canned tomatoes and chilies.  I pour it over the beef and cover the pan with foil.  Now it goes into a 325 degree oven for 3 hours.                   

(This might be a good time to catch up on housework or maybe a certain TV series you have borrowed on DVD from a co-worker.  I decided on housework.  Okay, not really…but I did consider it.)

Anyway, when there is about 30 minutes left on my timer, I wash some small potatoes and get them ready to add to the brisket.  After the timer goes off, I take the brisket out of the oven and remove the foil.   I add the potatoes to the pan and put everything back in the oven to cook uncovered for another 45 minutes.  When the timer goes off again, I make sure the potatoes are done (they are) and remove the pan from the oven.  Now I just need to let the brisket rest for a few minutes before I slice it, then serve it with the potatoes and sauce.

So…who will be reviewing this latest creation?  This tough job falls to Dad and me this week, so I pack everything up and take it over to his house.  I plate two servings of brisket and potatoes, making sure Dad gets all the onions since there is no way I’m eating them.  After I give him time to take a few bites, I ask his official opinion…and that is?   He likes it.   He even says, “well that meat is sure tender.”  I did give him a little too much, but it’s another good sign that he wants me to wrap it up and save it for another day.

As for me, I agree with Dad that this is a good recipe.  I wasn’t sure about the combination of barbeque sauce with tomatoes and chilies, but it works.  The sauce is sweet but not overwhelming.  I think this can be adjusted slightly depending on which barbeque sauce you use.  I used a sweet and spicy version, but you can use whatever you prefer.  And since I have always liked brisket, I knew that wasn’t going to be an issue.  The only issue is making sure it’s cooked long enough to be tender, which this definitely was after almost 4 hours in the oven.  The potatoes even tasted good with the sauce, but they did need a little more salt and pepper.   Overall, I’m giving this recipe two thumbs up!

Now…what should I make next?


1 tsp. kosher salt

½ tsp. pepper

1 (3-lb.) brisket, trimmed of fat

1 large white or yellow onion, thinly sliced

12 oz. barbecue sauce

½ cup brown sugar

1 (10 oz.) can diced tomatoes and chilies, undrained

1 ½ lb. small white potatoes

Recipe from the John Wayne Family Cookbook.

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