Thursday, September 6, 2012

The First Brisket

Today, I'm turning the floor over to my husband so he can tell you about the brisket he smoked for us last weekend:

Here in Texas, BBQ is a big deal and the holy grail of all BBQ in Texas is the brisket.  Done right, it is a tender, melt in your mouth, full of smoky goodness, flavorful piece of meat.  Texans respect a good brisket and the person who made it.  So I have been smoking various meats since my wife got me a smoker for my birthday last year.  We have had some missteps but overall most things that come out of the smoker are good and others are great.

Last week Kim was going over the shopping list and mentioned brisket.  I thought she was talking about a pre-cooked brisket.  She said, "no there's a good sale on brisket, but you would have to cook it."  Well, OK, I’ll give it shot.  After some serious internet searches, the following is what I ended up doing:

Get yourself a brisket, fresh not frozen.  Get a small one because even a small one is 8 -10 pounds.  You have to make sure it will actually fit in your smoker.

Mix up your rub:
¼ C Brown sugar
¼ C Kosher salt
¼ C paprika
¼ C chili powder
1T garlic powder
1T Onion powder
1T Cumin

The day before smoking, prepare the brisket: trim much of the fat off and leave about ¼ inch thick fat cap.  No need to be precise but more fat just means longer cook time and too little fat means you end up with boot leather. Slice the fat cap diagonally both ways so the smoke and rub can penetrate better.

Smear mustard all over both sides of the brisket not too thick but enough so your rub will stick.

Now layer on your rub to both sides being careful to get all the crevices and not to knock it off when you turn it over to do the other side.

Place the brisket in plastic wrap and make sure no liquid will leak out.  Put the wrapped brisket in your fridge over night.

Early the next morning pre-heat your smoker to about 220F - 250F.  Unwrap your brisket and place it in the smoker, put some mesquite chips in and let the games begin.

Hope you are going to be around because it will be an all day affair.  For the first 2 hours DONOT open the smoker, resist the urge.  Every half an hour add some more chips to keep the smoke going.  At two hours open the smoker and mop the brisket with sauce (1 part Apple cider vinegar, 1 part Olive oil and ⅛ part paprika).  Every hour now mop and add chips.  Once you get to five hours you can stop adding chips as the smoke will probably not penetrate anymore.  At 6 hours a thermometer stuck in the thickest part read 162F for me.  Technically it is done, that is, safe to eat.  But to get that tenderness you have to go on up in temp to 180F - 200F.  That is when all the fat inside starts to melt creating a tender brisket.  There is a phenomenon in smoking meats called the plateau and it usually occurs around 150F - 160F.  It can take hours to pass this point depending on the meat.  But hold yourself in check and it will pass and continue to rise.  Scientifically, it is not magic just the point where the fat is melting, absorbing the heat and until this is done the temp will not rise very much.

The outside of the brisket will look like hell.  It might be burnt and chared to a crisp but inside is what counts.  Once you are happy with the temp, take it out of the smoker and let it rest for at least 15 minutes, 30 would be better.  It was so hard not to cut into it right away and take that first bite.  Would it be good or would would it be a chunk of leather?

It was most definitely good brisket.  Would I serve it to friends and family?   Absolutely, we actually took some to the neighbors.  Would it win awards at a competition?  Sadly, probably not.  But that just means I have to practice more.

There are a lot of good resources out there to read.  Don’t be scared to try, it will turn out fine.
If you have any questions about how to smoke anything and I do mean anything, this forum is the place to ask.

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