BBQ Beef Brisket
When the good folks over at Stay Classy meats asked me to share my Brisket recipe, I was reluctant at first. Reluctant, not because I think that I am somehow the authority on smoking brisket, but because for us Texans, brisket is about as close as one can get to religion without actually crossing the threshold. This is sacred stuff to us. This is family. This is generations of knowledge. This is our identity. It is also safer to get into politics and religion than to get into a BBQ debate. But, guess what?! I love the stay classy guys and by proxy, I love you, my future pit masters
So, here you go…
I’ll start by saying this. My friend and yours, Aaron Franklin, is the absolute authority when it comes to brisket. He would probably never admit it, but he is. I highly recommend his book, Franklin Barbecue; a meat smoking manifesto. It is one of 3 cook books I keep on my desk at all times. The man has dedicated his life to the pursuit of the perfect bite of smoked perfection.
In my opinion, he has reached his destination. I’ve known him and eaten his heavenly delights for many years and I’ll just say one final thing on the subject; No one works harder than Aaron, He has earned every award and accolade that has come his way. His stuck with one restaurant, when he could’ve franchised, You still see him cruising around Hyde Park in his pick up blaring the Jesus Lizard. He’s humble, he’s a cook. He’s a Texan.
Ok, no that that’s out of the way. I’ll present this recipe under the assumption that you, dear pitmaster, actually have a barbecue pit. If you don’t, do not worry, I’ll cover that later.
Let’s start with where you live and what kind of wood is around and more importantly, what kind of beef. During the summer, I am the executive chef of a private club on an island off the coast of Massachusetts. Despite all of this, I get my brisket from Montana. How? You ask? Stay Classy, That’s how. So you’re covered there. There brisket will arrive ready to smoke. If you feel the need to do some fat trimming to yours, go ahead. But personally, I already have enough going on in my world to worry about perfect edges. However, if you truly wanna get into that, see two paragraphs above and buy that book. Wood is important, but it’s not going to make or break your brisket. I personally use a mixture of White Oak and Mesquite. About 80/20. Mesquite alone burns to hot and can give your meat a bitterness that some may find undesirable. A great middle ground for me would be applewood, hickory or pecan. If you can however, get post oak or white oak where you are, that is the move. You’ll need about a dozen or a dozen and a half logs to see this thing through till the end.
So your brisket has arrived. Thaw it out over night in the fridge. Then, on the day you will be cooking, let your brisket come to room temp before giving it the rub down.
Let’s talk rub.
All you need is salt and pepper. Is that all I use? nope. I went to culinary school in the Hudson Valley, son!
1 cup ground coffee (the darker the roast, the better)
1 cup light brown sugar
½ cup kosher salt
½ cup Aleppo chilli powder (or Korean chilli flake)
½ cup granulated garlic
¼ cup Szechuan peppercorn ground
So, you’ve got your brisket out, you’ve got your rub ready all mixed up nice and good. You know what to do now. Cover that sucker with a nice even layer and start a fire.
Ok, starting your fire. Again, I’m assuming you have the kind of pit that I have. Fire box on one end, pit in the middle, smoke box and chimney on the opposite end.
Get a hot fire going in the fire box. I’m not going to tell you how to start a fire. If you need to know that, you may be reading the wrong article. Just kidding, four or five logs, stacked up campfire style. Get it going to where all your wood is white hot. Then close up your chimney and let the smoke settle around your pit.
The ideal temp for the inside of your smoker is 225. Don’t worry if it starts out a little hot, it will cool off and the sugar in your rub will protect you!
Go ahead and drop your brisket on the pit. Opposite the end of your fire. Crack your chimney.
Throw a twelve pack on ice and start solving the worlds problems.
The whole idea here is to maintain the flow of smoke and temp. It’s crucial that the pit doesn’t crest above 240/250, but also, don’t let it fall below 180/190. You’re basically gonna want to add a log to the fire every 50 minutes or so. Or maybe every beer, if you drink like my dad. Hi dad.
Anyway. The ideal internal temp of your brisket is gonna be around 200. That should be about twelve beers. If you’re nervous about the brisket drying out. Wrap the meat in butcher paper for the last hour or two. This will keep in the moisture in and make it easy to remove from the heat.
Ok. Your brisket is cooked now. Let it rest until the internal temp is around 145. How to slice?
This is actually very important. Starting on the thin end, Slice across. Again, I’d love to refer you to Aaron Franklin’s in-depth explication of this. However for this, trust me. From the thin end. Slice across the brisket until you get half way down. Making about ½ inch slices. Now, the fat end. Slice the whole thing horizontally in half. Then, in ½ inch slices slice the slabs of beef going the opposite way as the thin end. (With the beef)
You still with me? Good. It’s time to eat.
We don’t use sauce. The fat is your sauce. White bread. Pickles, onions. That’s it. That’s how we eat it.
There very well may be leftovers. The little slices of heaven are excellent cold on a Cesar salad. Chopped beef sandwiches are also a very popular left over item. You’re permitted to put bbq sauce on that. Literally, just chop it up throw it on a burger bun. So perfect, so simple. If you don’t have a pit. You can do everything I just said in an oven or a Smokin’ Tex smoker.
You’ll be fine.
Let me know what happens.
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