Brisket 1

Tonight's menu is Beef Brisket and Baby Back Ribs, both smoked. For my friends on the East Coast a Beef Brisket is a boneless slab cut from the breast section beneath the first few ribs. This cut is a tough piece of meat requiring a long, (let me tell you 4:30am eat at 6:00pm) long slow cooking time. Yes it is necessary! If I were the cow that once owned the brisket, I would want it cooked correctly... none of this throwing it on the gas grill with a few soaked wood chips...nah nah I say. You must smoke it slowly over a hardwood fire 200 - 225 degrees. Today I am using pecan wood. Why so slow and long? Go to Alton Brown's site on the food network for this and many other answers.

Back to the real issue at hand. Brisket and Ribs. I have 6 full racks of baby backs rubbed and wrapped and they will take about four hours. I will add them to the same grill I am doing the brisket. This will make controlling the temperature harder but hey, what is cooking without experimenting and enjoying it with a few friends.

The menu will also include cornbread, grilled veggies, beans, salad. Do not forget the beer and cigar (if the wife is out!)

Here are the recipes:
Beef Brisket

  • Salt Kosher (1/2 cup)
  • Pepper (2 tbsp)
  • Cayenne powder (1 tbsp)
  • Garlic (2 tbsp)
  • Onion Powder (2 tbsp)
  • Ginger (1 tbsp)

Mixed all ingredients, rub on the meat. I did not worry about the fat side. Wrapped tight in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Wet Mop
  • Bottle of beer
  • Apple cider vinegar (1/2 cup)
  • Worcestershire sauce (3 tbsp)
  • Vegetable oil (1/4 cup)
  • Crushed Garlic (1 tbsp)
  • Ginger (1 tbsp)
  • Pepper Sauce (2 tbsp) 

After the first 2 hours of smoking (no, not the cigar), mop the meat side every 30 minutes.

I have an off-set smoker. It is not an expensive unit but it does the job and I did not want to mortgage the house on something that I was not sure I would enjoy using. I started 10 pieces of charcoal in a chimney starter and placed them in the firebox on top of a grate to allow air flow.  Air flow is key to maintain good temperature control and flavor. The hardwood was chunked so I soaked the largest pieces and placed one chunk (6" - 8" by 3") beside the coals. In the cooking chamber I added a pan filled with beer, which I filled as needed. I kept a few cold for my consumption and yes 4:30am is the perfect time for a beer!

Once the temperature was stable, I added the meat fat side up for two hours.

Maintaining temperature
This is not an exact science. I will tell you how I am able to do it but I recommend that you practice a few times before inviting the gang over. First keep your smoker clean. The ash buildup does not help and can add a bitter taste. I clean mine after each use. I simply use a brush, I do not like using chemical cleaners.
I add the coals to the fire box with all the vents wide open but the cooking chamber closed. Once the coals are all uniformly lit and the first pieces of wood had been added, I close the side vent 3/4 of the way. Waiting a few minutes, I found the temperature rising so I closed the vent the rest of the way. My fire chamber is not air tight so closing the vent all the way still allows a surprising amount of air in. Every 1/2 hour to 45 min. I added 3-4 pieces charcoal to maintain the heat. As the day became hotter (it was 84 degrees F on Saturday) I found I need to shut the chimney vent by 1/2. I added wood as needed and made sure ash was not building up under the coals, preventing airflow. The temperature in the cooking chamber at meat level should be 200 - 225 degrees F.

Meat Care
Keep you meat moist, words to live by while smoking and with activities that I am not discussing in this blog. I kept the tin filled with beer to keep the smoke moist. After 2 hours I flipped the meat, fat side down and mopped every 20 minutes to 30 minutes.

I wait until the internal temperature reaches 195 degrees F, and then wrap the brisket in foil for 20 minutes. The cooking time is 1 hour 20 minutes / pound.

To serve I cut the meat into 1/4" strips against the grain.

Great texture, not chewy. Excellent smoke ring. Nice char on the outside but not too much! The flavor was good and not to smoky, the meat was moist.



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