One of the absolute best dishes in Texas has to be smoked brisket. Although this will take a full day on the barbeque, the results are phenomenal. A good size brisket will feed about 16 people and you can make plenty of wonderful side dishes to go with it. Potato salad, coleslaw and pinto beans go very nicely with the brisket. Once it is cooked it should be allowed to sit for half an hour, and then it is the perfect time to serve it, although it can be smoked up to 3 days in advance if you wish. Reheat it, still wrapped in foil, in a 325 degrees F oven, or until it is warm.
As well as the ingredients, you need a charcoal grill and drip tray, a chimney starter, about 40 pounds of hardwood charcoal (you might not need that much but you do not want to run out), about 10 untreated hickory or oak chunks, 2 or 3 inches in length, and a barbeque thermometer is also a good idea. Invest in these items if you do not already have them, and you can be sure of wanting to make this fantastic recipe over and over again. You can make all kinds of wonderful dishes using the smoker, so you will get plenty of use out of it if you are keen on barbequing.
What is Brisket Exactly?
This cut of meat comes from the lower chest or breast of beef or veal. It is one of the 9 beef primal cuts and the muscles in it include the deep and superficial pectorals. Cows do not have collarbones so these muscles bear more than half of the body weight of the animal when it is standing or moving. Because this means the brisket is full of connective tissue, it means this cut of meat must be slow-cooked in order to tenderize it.
Some fat is usually left on the meat so it can keep it juicy while it cooks, and a marinade or spice rub is sometimes used to add flavor. It is often smoked over oak, hickory, mesquite, or pecan, to keep the heat constant. The smoke coming out of the wood will enhance the flavor of the brisket. Cook brisket pieces can be returned to the smoker to make ‘burnt ends’ which are popular in Kansas City style barbeque dishes, and they are served on white bread.
An Alternative Cooking Method
If you prefer not to spend all day hovering around the barbeque, there is another method you could try. Smoke the brisket on the grill for 5 hours or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat registers 160 degrees F, and then wrap the meat in foil and cook it in a 250 degrees F oven for another 5 hours or until the internal temperature is 200 degrees F. The first part of this recipe, where the brisket is cooked on the grill, is when the smoky flavor penetrates into it, and the second part, where it is finished off in the oven, ensures you can get on with other things instead of having to watch the barbeque all the time. The results will be good this way too, but it is also nice to cook the brisket from beginning to end on the barbeque, for the maximum smoky flavor.
- 10 lbs whole beef brisket, fat trimmed to ¼ inch thick
- ⅓ cup each salt and black pepper
- An hour before lighting the barbeque, put the meat on a rimmed baking sheet.
- Combine the salt and pepper, then use it to season the meat all over.
- Let it sit at room temperature for an hour.
- Fill the chimney starter with charcoal, then light it and let it burn until you see a thin layer of ash on the coals.
- Pour the chimney contents on to one side of the barbeque.
- Put 3 wood pieces next to the coals, but not on top of them else they will burn too fast.
- Put the grate on the barbeque and cover it.
- The lid vent should be as far from the hot coals as possible.
- Keep heating it until a thermometer in the top vent registers about 235 degrees F.
- Adjust the vents to keep the temperature between 225 and 250 degrees F and add the brisket.
- Keep an eye on the barbeque, checking the wood and coals a couple times an hour.
- Do not open the lid more than you need to.
- Keep smoking the meat, rotating it every couple of hours, and flipping it occasionally.
- It is done in about 11 hours, or when an instant-read thermometer in the thickest part registers 200 degrees F.
- Let the brisket rest for 30 to 45 minutes on a chopping board, then slice it ¼ inch thick against the grain, and serve.
Any Texan who appreciates good beef will know and love this fantastic dish. Gently cooked and smoked until tender, the beef comes out exactly as you can see in the photo – crispy and blackened on the outside, and tender and juicy inside. This takes up to 12 hours to make and it serves a large crowd, so why not make a day of it? Get up early to get a head start on making this dish and invite some friends over to enjoy it in the evening. You can make potato salad, coleslaw, and all your favorite sides.
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