Smoked Brisket Pho

What is phở? It is a Vietnamese soup with rice noodles. The broth is rich and flavorful and typically beef based. I have seen chicken and vegetarian bases. The meat that accompanies pho can be flank, steak, brisket, tripe, meatball, chicken, and even shrimp. I love rice noodles. I order extra noodles almost every time. Growing up, my mom would cook us pho or we would go out and eat it at least twice a month? I love pho. I love smoked brisket. It was time for a mash-up. I have been wanting to make a smoked brisket pho for a while now. We finally had a free weekend where I could spend a chunk of time at home to cook it.

My friends from 44 Farms sent me five pounds of beef bones and a brisket. I split the brisket and was going to use about three pounds of the flat for the pho. I tried to trim a lot of fat away. I did not want a fatty brisket for the pho. I used about half the salt I would use normally and even less for ground pepper. I wanted the broth to shine more than the meat. I also smoked the bones and onion for about an hour to enhance the flavor and to get rid of the impurities that might end up in the broth. I did not season the bones. I pulled the brisket once the internal temperature hit 190 degrees (about four hours). I could have let the temperature go higher, but I wanted the meat to stay together in the soup. I put the brisket aside to rest for at least an hour.
Beef bone from 44 Farms
Brisket from 44 Farms
Light on salt and lighter on pepper
Smoked beef bones and onions
Brisket off the smoker
Profile of the brisket
I threw the bones, onions, sugar, salt, star anise, cinnamon, fennel, coriander, cloves, fish sauce, and ginger all into a stock pot and covered the bones with water. I am going to guess I used about six quarts of water. We did not have a big enough pot so I split everything in half into two separate pots. Bring the water to a boil and simmer it. You will have to add water during the process due to evaporation. I am guessing I added another two quarts or so. You can put the ingredients in a mesh bag so it is easier to get out.
After about five hours, I pulled out the bones and combined the broth. I strained it through a mesh colander with a coffee filter. That help get rid of some of the fat as well. You might have to add more salt to the broth depending on how much water evaporated. I bought fresh rice noodles for the soup, but you can buy the dry kind at most grocery stores and boil them in water.
Ladle time
I typically see onion, cilantro, and green onion in the soup when pho is served. I put everything in the bowl first and then ladle in the broth. You can garnish the pho with jalapeño, mint, basil, bean sprouts, and/or lime. You can also dip the meat in hoisin sauce and/or Sriracha. Not this time. It was about the smoked brisket. I thought the meal turned out great. It took a lot of time and effort, but it was worth at least doing it once. It was fun. The brisket was wonderful, and the broth was smoky, rich and had a ton of flavor. Nice depth to it. Even Amber was impressed. It was pho-nomenal.
2 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons salt
5 whole star anise
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
4 cloves
1/2 cup fish sauce
1 ginger about 6 inches long broken into pieces
2 onions

Until next time, happy smoking...


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