"Son of a Brisket!" - was an exclamation one dinner guests made to express his extreme pleasure with my brisket yesterday. Or at least that is how I took it.
This was my first brisket, and I'm proud to say, I nailed it! Well, almost. It wasn't perfect, but it was really really good. I'm willing to say it is the third best brisket I've ever eaten - only beaten by Franklin's in Austin, TX and Scottie's from Cancer Sucks Chicago BBQ team. (But, I am from Chicago, and you can't get real BBQ here.)
So on to the pron:
Here is the bad boy. 14.5# Choice Brisket. I got this one from Excel Corn Beef in Chicago. If you go to their processing facility and tell them you're a friend of Gary and ask for a brisket for smoking, they'll let you give the guy at the desk cash and they'll give you one of their choice briskets. I paid $2.25/# , and considering I couldn't find one in the western burbs, I was happy, but left wondering if his boss knows he sold me that brisket.
I timed this up. I'm not going to show you photos of this, because I had a hard time fighting the urge to cut all the fat off.
I got the stuff on bottom and sides all trimed up, and the fat cap down to like 1/8" to 1/4", with a small spots where I accidentally cut it all off. The shiny membrane on bottom stayed on, because I wasn't sure if I was supposed to take it off and it was difficult to get off.
Next up seasoned up. Keeping it simple, I'm not messing with injections or anything fancy. I really wanted to do just salt and pepper, because this is how Franklin's does their mind blowing brisket. But, I didn't trust my skill, and if I screwed up the tenderness, I was hoping that I could make up for it with flavor. So, I did a very light coat of Plowboys Bovine Bold around 11:00 pm, then wrapped it and into the fridge. When I got up at 4:30am, I put a good heavy coat of 50% Kosher Salt & 50% Medium Grind Pepper on it - about 2/3 of a cup total (1/3 of each). It should have been coarse ground pepper, but I couldn't find any in large quantity. It sat on the counter for about an hour to sweat as I got the smoker up to temp. Photo before going on the smoker:
I'm using my UDS w/ a 16" Terra Cotta diffuser. Worried about the long cook, I loaded my basket up as follows:
3/4 chimney of RO Briquettes
3 chunks of hickory
1.5 chimney of RO Briquettes
4 chunks of hickory
This ended up being the whole 11# bag of briquettes.
I also randomly threw i fist full of small pieces of RO Lump and some old/used briquette from previous burn.
It looked like this:
On top of this, I added 20 lit briquettes. In the end, this is WAY overkill. I don't have photos of the after, but it looked like barely anything was used. I measured the depth of charcoal at 8 1/2" in my basket before starting, after it was about 6". But, all drums vary with time, temp, etc. Since I've wrapped mine in a blanket, it has been very efficient.
Outside temp was 34*F My Time went something like this:
4:30 am - Lit Charcoal
4:45 am - Dump lit charcoal on basket and assemble the smoker.
5:05 am - Drum at 200, close nipples and ball 25% (closed). Heavy bad grey smoke.
5:35 am - Drum at 225 and puffing sweet blue smoke. BRISKET ON!
8:30 am - Drum slowly risen and was humming at 240. I was targeting 240 - 260*
10:00 am - Outside temps were coming up, and the drum had risen to 250*, so I closed the ball 50%
3:40 pm - Drum had stayed between 245* and 255*. Meat just hit 180*, so closed the drum ball for 5 minutes, opened and probed the brisket. The point probed like butter, but the flat was tough.
4:30 pm (11 hours) - Meat at 185*, probed again and the flat still wasn't ready.
5:30 pm (12 hours) - Meat at 192, flat still feels the same and I'm starting to wonder if I know what the heck I'm doing.
6:00 pm (12 1/2 hours) - meat at 195*, flat probed much easier, I thought it was butter.
I took the brisket off at this point. I let it sit in open foil for about 10 minutes to stop the cooking process, then sealed the the foil for 30 minute rest. Cut up and served at 7:00pm.
Here it is:
The flat got sliced and the point cubed:
The results were amazing. Oddly, no smoke ring, but it had some light smoke flavor. Who cares... The bark was really good. Nice and crunchy with great flavor. A little heat from the pepper, but not overwhelming. Maybe a little too much pepper. I bet if I had used coarse ground pepper instead of medium grind it would have been perfect. I couldn't stop eating the point. It just melted in my mouth. I actually ate so much that after a while, I wasn't feeling so good - but it was worth it! The flat was a just slightly tough. It probably could have used another 30 - 60 minutes in the smoker. But it was still good. My guests were impressed. I don't think I'll have issues getting them to come back for more.
My hope now is that I can repeat this performance constantly. If I can do that, my cholesterol will likely kill me, but I will die very very happy. :becky
Thanks for all the help I've got around here. I spent a better part of last week reading through all the brisket threads I could find. I'm convinced without several of the videos and threads, I would have been a failure. I hope I made you all proud.