Barbecue Beef Brisket by RandyF
Submitted by: RandyF Uploaded by: Djarum
This article is missing some original photos
Yesterday I barbecued a whole Beef Brisket, and I know you guy's would like to see the whole process. Quite a bit of this I am still learning, myself, so things may not be as orthodox as some hard-core barbecue folks may say. In fact, I've learned most of the basics from a few ex-co-workers that compete in competitions up here around the northwest (www.pnwba.com for more info). After hanging around the competitions, I realized how it was worth the wait for low-and-slow barbecue.
So, here is the process I used for my brisket:
The day before, picked up a cryopack of a 9.75lb untrimmed brisket. This was about $1.30 a pound, so a nice cheap cut of meat (that's the heart of barbecue: making the shitty cuts taste great):
Out of the package. Now we start cutting away on this sucker:
Here: http://www.virtualweberbullet.com/brisketselect.html is a good resource to Brisket. I should have followed it more closely, but what the hell, it worked out. Quite a bit of fat comes off, and a bit of meat came off (that my dog loves me for):
Here's the other side:
Next up, the mustard! Mustard, you say?! Why I never!
Yeah, slather it in that shit... Get a nice thin coat on both sides. The acid in the mustard helps start to break down the connective tissue and overall it gives us a nice base to put the rub on. I guess the rub overall is a semi-wet rub once you add the mustard, come to think of it.
I had just enough dry rub left over from my last batch to give it a decent coat (all sides!). Then I wrapped the whole thing up and into the fridge it went overnight.
At about 8AM, I was up getting the cooker going. Here's the base of my Weber Bullet:
... and the middle and top sections.
First, I filled the coal-ring with about half-way with Kingsford (regular, for the love of god, not match-light!), and then laid down a layer of mesquite chips. Don't bother soaking the chips, there's not enough air-flow for them to combust in this kind of cooker:
Then I filled, and piled on, as much more charcoal as I could before the ring overflowed. At this point, I pulled as much charcoal back out to fill my chimney starter.
Anyone who works with charcoal, even if it is just grilling burgers after work, should have a chimney starter. It's the fastest, most effective way to get coals evenly started. I use chunks of firestarter (which is just basically parifin wax and sawdust, like a sticky Duralog) ignitied by my kitchen torch to get things going.
Starter lit, then the chimney goes over the top of it:
Now, we have a bit of work to do while the coals get lit, so get busy! Start by making a nice even crater in the middle of your coals. This will make it more manageable when you pour in the hot ones.
Back inside, we've have the brisket out of the fridge since we woke up (haven't we?).
Now, for the second coat of rub. I was out of rub, so I made some more. I'm not picky on my rub, and I'm by no means exact. My rub is roughly: 2 parts ground coriander, 2 parts ground black pepper, one part granulated onion, one part granulated garlic, what dry mustard I had in the cupboard, and about a tablespoon of 95k-scoville Cayenne Pepper powder (this stuff makes me sneeze to all fuck when I open it), and...
...2 parts hungarian paprika. Notice I said NO SALT. I learned from Alton to leave the salt out and add it on it's own for more control. Sometimes with rubs you want more flavor but you end up over-salting instead. So, before you add your dry-rub, salt the meat first. DON'T salt it the night before, it will pull out too much juice.
Wisk that shit all together:
Here's the brisket from last night:
Now, since this is still like 8:30am, we have our coffee handy, not a beer. (And my new OneButan with a condom over the keys because I'm a fucking mess in the kitchen!)
So, here we see the brisket with a nice thick layer of rub. Also, I've placed my probe thermometer in to the thickest part of the meat towards the middle of the rack. The smoker thermometer sits at meat-level clipped to the rack.
Now for more smoke. Start by folding up a foil pouch with one end open:
Fill the pouch with about 1/2 cup of smoke pellets (I actually used the mesquite chips here, and it did not work as well as I hoped. I usually use pellets, so I did not know what the fuck.)Close up the packet tightly, and add two SMALL holes in the top of the packet. We don't want the insides to combust, we just want it's tasty-tasty smoke to escape.
Now, get yourself a gallon of water in a long-necked watering can, and bring everything outside to the cooker.
The coals should be ready by now, so dump them into the crater that you made in the other coals.
Put the middle section onto the cooker, and put your meat on the top rack. Use the watering can to fill the water pan with the water.
Now, stick that smoke packet right on top of the coals (pierced side up):
And close the cooker up. Start the bottom vents at about 50%, and the top vent wide-open.
Now for temp monitoring. I managed to snag this temp gauge instrument at the last place I worked when I got laid off. It has ethernet on it, but the IT guy there fucked up the subnet and I don't have the password, so I have not been able to set that up for logging yet, so I have to do it by hand.
This reads off of a K-Type thermoprobe that I drilled into the top of the cooker:
NOW WE WAIT LONG TIME. Ideally, you want to keep the cooker at 225degF. I was running a bit hot for most of the process, between 260-280. As long as you keep it under 300 you should be fine. The lower you can cook it, the slower the connective tissue will break down, and the less moisture will escape.
I'm pretty bad about putting in the last couple of readings. As you can see it started to top off at 200degF. Now, after I opened it up (at about 4:30pm), I used my digital quick-read thermometer and it was only at 190degF. So, I need a new remote thermometer, because that one is hosed. The brisket stayed on until about 5pm, then I pulled it off and let it rest under a light foil cover.
Here's a graph, and some other BS that my excel sheet does for this (GEEK).
Every hour for the first 3 hours, open the side door and pull out the spent smoke packet and replace it with a fresh one. Ideally they should smoke enough that your neighbors call the fire department, especially the pellets, they smoke like mad. And another thing: If I see you fucking lift the lid, I will cut you within an inch of your life! Don't look. Just don't do it. That's why you have remote thermometers, fuckers! Every time you lift the lid on a cooker like this, add 15 minutes to the effective cooking time. If you keep peeking at the meat, your dinner's going to be an hour late and your guests will hate you (or you'll have to pull it off early for check-in and the judges will dock you because it pulls like shoe leather). Trust me, the meat is doing fine in there, really.
8 hours later, this is the meteorite that comes out of the cooker:
You can see here where I could not help snacking on the corner of it. The meat just pulls off like butter. The red you see is the "Smoke Ring" which is the holy grail of competition barbecue. The deeper the smoke ring, the bigger your BBQPenis.
Here's the Point end sliced (I sliced it the wrong way, but who cares, it was tender enough not to matter):
... and the Flat end. I need to Photoshop a bigger smoke ring on these so that you guys will be more impressed (actually, I just need to color-balance so you can see the ring that is there).
The final product. A pile of that sliced brisket on a toasted french roll, side of coleslaw (or just throw the coleslaw on the sandwich, if that suits you). I grabbed a bottle of Stubb's Original this time around, and it actually turned out to complement the meat well. Serve with your favorite beer, my personal favorite is currently Clausthauller fake-beer (N/A LOL).