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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Tender Beef Brisket

So tender, it's falling apart!

Nothing says Texas like a delicious smoked beef brisket. The problem is, so many have trouble getting it right. It often ends up between charcoal and beef jerky. Chances are, if you're reading this right now, that's why you're here.

Well we're here to tell you, our friends, you too can have mouth watering delicious beef brisket that'll make you never want to eat it from a restaurant again. I'm talking about the kind of beef brisket you could eat with a cheap plastic fork.

We come from a long line of serious BBQ smokers. We do not play. Our family would wake up at 3am to begin building a fire. Now days, that's really just way too much work. There are simpler ways to get a delicious brisket.

Being from Texas, we *love* smoked meats... BBQ and bacon all the way. The meat is only going to absorb smoke for the first 2 hours of cooking. Any more smoke after that just builds up a nasty charcoal crust on the outside. It's bitter and carcinogenic, but we'll admit that we do love it because it's what we grew up with. Though that's not how we make it anymore.

  • 1 flat cut brisket (this is the leaner side. You can double this recipe and cook a whole brisket too)
  • 1/8 cup paprika
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp table salt
  • 1 tsp ground oregano
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp white sugar
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper 

  1. If you do not like a lot of fat, you can trim much of it off. Just leave a thin layer on top to help keep it from drying out. Contrary to what Abraham Lincoln said on the internet, the fat will not drip down "inside" the meat. (#ScienceFail) But we're originally from Texas, we love beef fat and our great-uncles are healthy and active in their upper 90s. Two of them still work on their farms. We leave it on because we like how it tastes. So, trim according to your preferences.

  2. Rub it down with your favorite brisket dry-rub seasonings (our recipe is listed above)
    So many delicious flavors. And the smell!
  3. Cover loosely and let it age in the refrigerator for 3 or 4 days. If you can do this on a rack, it's even better. The air flow will allow the enzymes to break down the meat and become more tender. (Think dry-aged steak)
    Loosely wrapped and ready for the fridge!
  4. Preheat the grill or oven or smoker for 225 degrees. (If using a grill or smoker, light only the end opposite of the top vent and leave the top vent as open as possible while maintaining 225 degrees.
  5. Insert a meat thermometer into the end of the thickest part of the beef all the way to the center if possible. (Remote thermometers are really handy for this!)
  6. Place the unwrapped meat directly on the rack in your grill or oven or smoker and cook until the meat reaches 150F, this usually takes about 2 hours but can vary wildly depending the thickness of your meat. (If you're smoking it, you only want to smoke for the first two hours of this.) At 150F, the meat reaches a temperature plateau (called the "stall") where it cannot get any hotter for several hours because at this temp the moisture begins to evaporate from the meat, taking the heat with it. Until enough moisture has evaporated, the heat of the meat will not continue to rise. People often think this is a good place to be and that all this other magical stuff is happening with parts breaking down. That's scientifically untrue. The meat is simply dehydrating. If you want to dive deeper into meat science, Dr. Bill over at covers everything you need to know in great detail.
  7. To continue with the meat cooking without drying it out, remove it from the wrack and wrap it tightly in a double layer of foil, adding 1 cup of liquid right before sealing. You can use apple juice, pear juice, beer or even just plain water.
  8. Reduce the heat to 190F.... (We normally just move the brisket to the oven at this point). Continue cooking the brisket for another 8 to 14 hours until the meat reaches 203F. That's the magic number.
  9. Remove the brisket, place in a warm ice cooler and cover with a few towels before closing the lid. Leave it sitting in there for about 2 hours. During this time, not only will the juices flow, but the meat fibers will continue to soften.
  10. Some people are die hard "bark" fans meaning they love the crispy exterior of a brisket. If you want to get a good bark, you can remove the meat from the foil and place it in a 450 degree oven for about 10 minutes. (Don't include the juices or it'll just steam which means no bark.)
  11. Slice against the grain and add sauce if desired. (In Texas, our brisket is so moist, tender and flavorful it doesn't need sauce. But if you're a die hard sauce person, protocol is to scoop off and discard some of the fat from the drippings then use one part drippings to one part bbq sauce to create a very thin flavorful sauce.
    That's down home Texas brisket lovin' right there!!
Notes on smoking:
  • The meat only absorbs smoke for about 2 hours. Anything after is just adding carcinogenic creosote to the outside of the meat and will taste like charcoal.
  • If using a grill, make sure to light the fire at only one end of the grill. The meat should never be directly over the heat. If you want to add smoke, wrap some dry hickory wood chips in a double layer foil pouch. Do not pre-soak the chips. Poke some holes in it and place the packet directly over the fire.

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