Monday, May 28, 2007

Texas Style Brisket

I've bar-be-cued 4 briskets. One was inedible, although my family managed to choke it down, and three were unbelievable. Here is what I've learned.

click for largerStart with the right meat. You need a brisket with a thick layer of fat all across the top. During cooking, this fat will melt and add flavor and juiciness to the meat. I've purchased 3 of mine from meat markets and one from Costco. The one from Costco did not have a thick layer of fat and became inedible. (Brisket is sometimes used to make corned beef and I think the one I got at Costco was trimmed with this in mind.) At the butcher where I went this weekend they actually called the meat I bought Texas-Style Brisket. I've also seen it at a few super-markets.

Cover the meat with a dry rub. I use Rudy's Rub. Its heavy on pepper and paprika, but other than that I'm not sure what is in it. When I run out I'll order more. I add the rub generously, rubbing it onto the meat until every inch is covered.

Cook slowly over smoke for 8-12 hours, and in the oven for 12 more. By slowly I mean 200-250 degrees. I have a medium sized Weber that I can keep at 250 degree with 4-8 briquettes burning in a pile on the side. I use a simple oven thermometer to keep track of the temperature. I add smoke by soaking mesquite chips in water and then sprinkling them over the briquettes. With this arrangement I add fresh mesquite every 15 minutes and I replenish the briquettes every hour.

Usually I start cooking the night before I want to eat. I keep vigil at the grill until I reach 10 or 12 hours or cooking, which is around 4 or 5 in the morning. Then I bring the meat inside, cover it with aluminum foil, and cook it on warm in the oven until dinner time. This method is exhausting as I have to be up all night tending the smoke. I know that the meat only needs 10-12 hours of smoke, and that the time in the oven adds to the tenderness, but I wasn't sure, until tonight, if the smoking time needed to be continuous.

click for largerThis weekend I changed my approach by only smoking the meat from 6pm to midnight. I then brought the brisket inside to the oven from midnight to 2pm. At 2pm I took it back out to the grill and gave it 4 more hours of smoke. This brought excellent results and I got a good night's sleep. Apparently the meat can take a break from the smoke with no ill-effects.

Things I'd still like to try: I think I could get longer periods of smoke if I used bigger chunks of mesquite. I'm using mesquite chips from Weber and they smoke out after about 10 minutes. If I had larger ones I might be able to go 30 minutes between each visit to the grill. Tonight's brisket still had quite a bit of fat left on the top even after 24 hours of cooking. I think I could have trimmed it to 1/4 or 3/8 inch and still been happy. I'll experiment with that next time.


Blogger Johnathan M. Thomas said...

Next time? I'm wondering why you didn't call this time.

I'll be there on the 7th, 8th and 9th.


Tue May 29, 07:15:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Allan White said...

Awesome grill intel, man - thanks for the details.

I love my meat, but I'm not staying up all night to watch it. I suppose I do other crazy things for my crafts, though.

We're nuts about Gartner's meats up here in NE PDX. They have great stuff, everything's good there.

"Smoke break": LOL!

Tue May 29, 10:30:00 AM PDT  
Blogger kristi w said...

I am truly speechless. That is dedication! I can only remember getting up in the middle of the night for cooking endeavors once or twice, but I'm sure it did not produce anything as good as what you nurtured there. Grill on!

Tue May 29, 11:16:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Carol said...

MMMMM, that looks good. Maybe you need some mesquite logs.

Tue May 29, 09:37:00 PM PDT  

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