Friday, April 18, 2008

My first Brisket

Well I guess I am a Texan now. I just smoked my first brisket. Brisket is a religion down here so I thought I'd join the cult. It was a lot of effort, but very worth it. If you have a charcoal grill or a smoker I would recommend giving it a whack. It took 18 hours! I started it at midnight and we ate at 6pm. I got no sleep at all as I had to add wood and charcoal every hour. We had the Bankheads and the Delandrys over. It was a lot of fun, we'll do it again soon. I have included basic instructions incase any of you want to take the "bull by the horns" and try one.

"The Shrine" I picked this grill up from a neighbor for 15 bucks.

"The Sacrificial Cow" You can see how I scored the fat and how I set up the grill.

"And they did rejoice" Make sure you cut against the grain. Read about cutting brisket online before you start slicing.

This was really good. Here is how I did it.
Prep. You will need:
1 grill, obviously.
1 Brisket, untrimmed, fresh, 10-12 lbs.
2 cups of dry rub, buy it or make it, I have a good recipe if you need one.
3 cups mop sauce. It is easy to make. Find a recipe online that sounds good.
1 Large bag of Charcoal
1 Bag of wood chunks, not chips. I used Hickory. I hear Hickory and Oak are the best for brisket. I only used half a big bag. The bag was only like 4-5 dollars.
2-3 cups of your favorite BBQ sauce for serving. I made a couple different kinds. A sweet and a Honey Mustard, different people like different types. They are easy to make or if you are lazy, Sweet Baby Ray's is one of the better store bought sauces for brisket in my opinion.
Plastic Wrap, Tin Foil, oven thermometer, meat thermometer, brush for mop, insulated gloves (or leather).
*Most of all, a whole lot of patience.

Early the day before the barbeque go buy the brisket, all the ingredients and supplies. You want one that is untrimed. It should be around 10-12 lbs. Plan on one pound per adult male and allow for extras. Remember, a 10lb brisket is only about 7-8 pounds actual meat. The bigger it is, the longer you need to cook it, the greater chance of it getting dry. I am a wimp with heat and tend to cook cooler than i should. I am afraid of burning it. It took me 18 hours to cook a 14lb. brisket. That meant no sleep. Plan on about 1hour and 15min per pound. Obviously get a cut of meat that looks fresh. Red meat, not a managers special. Perhaps go to Marburgers or another butcher to ensure quality and freshness. Look for marbling in the meat. That is fat, it will melt and make it moist. It is a good thing. Rinse the meat off with water, trim the fat layer if needed to get it about 1/4-1/3in thick and score it to allow smoke to get to the meat. I did 1 inch strips when scoring, it worked for me. Be sure you do not cut the meat. Now put on a rub of your choice. Get it in everywhere, a lot will be lost with mopping and dripping juice. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or at least 8 hours.
Fire it up. Take the meat out of the fridge a couple hours before you put it on the grill. Never ever put cold meat on a hot grill. Drop some wood chunks in a bucket of water. Let them soak 1hour before putting them on the coals. Get your grill fired up and maintaining about 225. Remember, indirect heat. Put a oven thermometer next to the meat for accurate readings. Get your vents set up and ready for the meat. Make sure the smoke will flow over the meat and out, do not let the smoke stay on the meat, it should just pass by on the way out. If the smoke sits on the meat a chemical in the smoke can settle on the meat and ruin it, making it taste like crap. Set up a large drip pan under the brisket to catch oil, you do not want a flare up that will scorch and ruin your beef. Especially in Utah it is important to keep moisture in the pit. Get a pan of water and put it over the fire, this will allow the steam to keep the pit humid. I flavor the water with half a chopped up onion, you would be surprised how well the flavor transfers to the meat that way.
Put one large or two smaller chunks of wood directly on the coals. Check the smoke levels and vents, when everything looks right, unwrap the room temp meat and place on the grill. I put the fat side down for about 30 min. to get the juices flowing, then it is fat up the rest of the time. As the fat layer dissolves it will run over the meat and keep it wet.
Maintain. Every hour rotate the meat to prevent hot spots. Mop, or baste, the meat, replace wood and coals. It is a labor of love. After 5-8 hours, wrap the meat in tin foil to prevent drying out.
Enjoy. When the internal temp at the thickest spot reaches 175-180, its done. If the meat is done before guests arrive, wrap it in a few more layers of foil, then wrap it in some old towels and put it in a cooler. It will hold it's temp for a few hours that way and make it juicer I hear. Slice off the fat layer, slice the meat in 1/4 in thick strips against the grain. A pink smoke ring may be on the outer area of the meat. It is not undercooked meat, it is a chemical reaction and a source of pride to the pit boss. It is very important it is cut against the grain. The tip section has meat running a different direction. There is a fat layer seperating the two pieces of meat. Separate the two by following the fat line. Then you can cut both pieces correctly. Enjoy with your favorite BBQ sauce. Now take a long nap.


Sano Family said...

Wow!! It looks delicious!! I think Pit Bosses must be Italian, they both do some "suffering" and hard work to serve up some good groceries!!

I wish you could mail us a piece to taste, it looks delicious!

Piper said...

Looked freakishly delicious!! I loved how you illustrated the pictures with things like, "The Shrine". very clever.