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I have been making this simple brisket recipe for years and it usually comes out great. Marinate with lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper. Then cover with water and cook slowly for a couple of hours (not fully cooked at this stage). Cool. Slice. Place in oven-proof serving dish and cover with a BBQ type sauce. Cover the dish and finish cooking in a moderate oven.

My questions are: Would searing the meat before cooking in water improve the flavor of the meat? Does one take the meat out of the cooking water before OR after chilling for the best meat flavor?

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Generally, yes. Searing the meat will improve the flavor on the outermost layer of your brisket due to a process known as the Maillard Reaction. It's the process of using heat to chemically transform proteins and sugars into new complex flavors. This process creates the "crispy" layer found on steaks and burgers and releases the smells that make your mouth water.

While this flavor will only be present on the outside of the meat, it will help to season the broth/liquid which will penetrate the brisket as it cooks, flavoring more of the meat.

I would be cautious when searing after using a mostly mustard based marinade, as the mustard could possibly burn before getting the desired level of sear.

As far as removing the meat from the braising liquid, the flavor will not be affected as much as the juiciness of the brisket as well as the continued cooking time. Air cooling a brisket will cause the meat to cool much more rapidly compared to cooling the brisket and liquid together (since the liquid must cool as well, it will take longer). This continued "cooking" during the cooling process will help to break down the tough connective tissue, which briskets contain much of (hence the reason that most briskets are cooked/smoked for 10-12 hours). If the brisket turns out a little tough after after air cooling, you can braise for a longer period to overcome the toughness.

If you do choose to remove the brisket from the liquid to cool, I would recommend to wrap the brisket with plastic wrap to help the meat keep all of its precious liquids!

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    Since the recipe calls for covering the brisket in water, they could rinse off the mustard glaze (collecting and saving the rinse water), then pat the brisket dry and sear it. Then use the rinse water to cover the brisket and proceed with the original recipe. – csk Dec 21 '20 at 18:08
  • @csk : or do what you said but use something more flavorful for the rising & braising. (hard cider, beer, cola, or something else that goes well with barbeque sauce). And I'd recommend that you cool it down it at least a little bit of the liquid, just maybe not a deep bath, so it's available for the meat to re-absorb as it cools – Joe Dec 21 '20 at 22:24

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