Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Texas Style Smoked Brisket

For Sarah's wedding reception, I'll be smoking brisket.

I wasn't born in Texas (born and raised in California); but, I've been a naturalized Texas citizen since 1984.  In the time I've lived here, I've developed a deep appreciation for Texas BBQ.  If there is a food of the gods then this is it. It just doesn't get any better.

Before I continue, I should warn anyone who might be reading this: If you are one of those health weenies (er, I mean health conscience) then it might be best if you moved onto another blog to read.

This is a recipe for Smoked Brisket that I've perfected over the years. Some of it based on ideas I've gleaned from other individuals, and some of my own making.  

Following is my normal recipe; although, for Sarah's wedding, I'm going to try something different.  Rather than starting it in the oven the night before an finishing it in the smoker, I'm going to start it in the smoker the day before and finish it in the oven.  This is for convenience since I can't be messing with the smoker on the big wedding day.

First of all, there is some equipment and utensils you'll need.
  • Smoker. Personally, I like the, so called, water smokers which consist of an upright cylinder with a fire pan at the bottom, a water tray about that, and racks above that. Although other types of smokers would work just as well.
  • Wood Chunks. I like to use a combination of: Hickory, Mesquite, Pecan, and Fruit (Apple, Cherry, etc.)
  • Charcoal. There is a brand I get at Bar-B-Que Galore that is chunks of wood charcoal, not the formed briquettes (ala Kingston and other brands). I think it burns hotter and doesn't get smothered in ashes as much.
  • Roasting Tray. The aluminum kind like you roast a big Turkey in. You might need two of these depending on how many briskets you are smoking.
  • Beef Brisket (get the untrimmed kind, usually weigh about 8-12 lbs each)
  • Fresh Jalapeño Peppers (about 5-6 per brisket)
  • Whole clove of garlic
  • Limes (about 2-3 per brisket)
  • Apple Juice (I use the frozen concentrate)
  • (Optional) Fresh Rosemary (I have a bush growing in my back yard, so I cut off a small branch)

The Night Before
  1. Trim the fat off of the brisket leaving about a 1/4" layer across the top. There is also a big chunk of fat in the side of the brisket which should be removed as much as possible.
  2. Half the Jalapeño Peppers and remove the membrane and seeds, then cut into strips about 1/4" wide and 1" long. It works best if you make them triangular shaped so that they are pointed on one end.
  3. Separate the garlic into individual cloves and slice them up into small strips about 1/8" wide and 1" long (or the length of the clove).
  4. Take a paring knife and make a slit in the brisket about 1-1/2" deep and stick a slice of Jalapeño Pepper and a slice of garlic in the slit. Repeat this all over the brisket (top, bottom and sides) making the slits about 2" apart.
  5. Put the brisket in a roasting pan.
  6. Cut the limes in 1/2, squeeze the juice over the brisket and rub it in with your hands working it into the slits. Then put the lime halves on top of the brisket.
  7. Put the roasting pan in the oven and set the oven to 250 degrees F and leave it in the oven all night.
The next morning
  1. Put the chunks of wood into a bucket of water to soak.
  2. Get up early and prepare the smoker. Light a fire in the fire pan using starter fluid. Wait until the flames die down and the charcoal is covered with a light layer of ash.
  3. If using a water smoker, once the flames have died down, put the water tray in the smoker, add the apple juice and rosemary branch, then fill the water tray up to the top with water. Then insert the other trays in the smoker.
  4. Transfer the brisket to the smoker (carefully) and close the smoker. I like to have the meat in the smoker by 8:00am so that it smokes all day.
  5. Add some water soaked chunks of wood on top of the charcoal and close the smoker.
Throughout the day
  • Check the smoker every couple of hours,
    • add more charcoal as necessary
    • add more water soaked wood chunks as necessary
    • add more water to the water tray as necessary
  • Try to keep the temperature inside the smoker at around 200 - 300 degrees F
  • Around noon, it's time to start slicing off chunks of meat to taste (gotta make sure it's good)
Other things to smoke
As long as you have the smoker going, you can add other things to smoke along with the brisket.
Things I've tried smoking (and liked):
  • Sausage. (Kielbasa or similar), smoke these about 4 hours
  • Hot links, smoke these about 4 hours
  • Snow Crab legs, smoke these about 2 hours
Things I've tried smoking (and didn't like so much):
  • Cheese. Warped in foil poked with holes (turns into a gooey mess)
  • Shrimp. (shells stick to the meat and are difficult to remove)
  • Salmon. (I don't particularly like salmon, so I don't know why I thought I might like it smoked)
  • Chicken. (ended up tough and dry)
Serve this with my Texas Style Barbecue Sauce. Invite a bunch of family and friends over and prepare to feast.

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