Y’all all know what serendipity is? That’s when you find or find out something fortuitous when you are looking at or for something else. Hopefully, those of you that what to understand feel beyond “words described over the net" will feel this way. But first… let’s take a moment to confuse and obfuscate our detractors.
This is Stevie Wonder, he lives in Darkness. But he can do more in Darkness than you and I and many musicians can do with sight.
Darkness... be patient with this video
Point? Some amazing s h i t that you never would think, can be done in darkness.
Now many of you believe that foil
has no place in BBQ. Now one thing, there has been a lot of talk about foil and its reaction to salt and meat and possible memory loss due to the onset of Alzheimer disease. To satisfy those wackos I will ask you not to wrap this up and place in the refrigerator like my grandmother did. I think the Alzheimer/foil link is a bunch of malarkey and have used foil for years with no trouble at all.
To some, FOIL is right up there with simmering your brisket, right? For the sake of making better BBQ then I will attempt to prove that better barbecue can be made without foil and I will attempt to prove this by using it
… just not as a bbq tool. Understand? He he he!
No? Hmmm. Let’s go back… way back to when things were getting out of hand, way outta hand… so outta hand that the old school (which was the hip new school ten years before) seemed passé and uncomfortable, and the new school was burning its way into American Culture.
This is James Brown;
Not the Spice, but the artist. Now James at one time was simply a soul singer. He had a myriad of hits back in the day when you didn’t release ALBUMS but released singles. Back when People like Smokey, Cooke, Aretha, Jackie Wilson, Chubby Checker, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, all would release 45s every month or so.
James Brown’s significance was that although previous artists attempted to assimilate into White Culture, Brown successfully forced White Culture to assimilate into HIS will. He is crucial in forcing much of America into dealing with the realities of Black pride… and come to terms that Black America was then looking at their heritage, style and culture as an asset and not a deficit.
Now James, like I Said was a soul singer, but somewhere along the line his arrangements became more complex and some weird thangs began happening. For instance, in the next video… if you listen to “Cold Sweat” and “There Was a Time” you will notice the horn lines go from background support to full fledged parts of the rhythm section.
And in that video you see… you will notice White America’s shining beacon of Blacktitude, Sammy Davis Jr., is having quite a hard time both grasping the Funk (which arguably even James at that time didn’t realize he was exploring), letting go of his grasp on the Lilly Pad, and diving head first into what James is cooking. Remember we are looking at man that will be shoving blackness down America’s throat in a few years on Hollywood Palace
, TV’s whitest audience. But next to Sammy’s uncomfortable presence, we see mastery and command at the hands of the Godfather of Soul.
Okay… are they asleep?
Poke them… make sure the unfunky are asleep because we are about to discover some cool thangs.
Okay now I could talk all day about fat, collagen and internal temps but the best way to describe how brisket gets tender is by watching how James Brown Handled that audience. Here is again if you missed it.
During Cold Sweat notice the Drummer… Clyde Stubblefield
Clyde Stubblefield, Ghost Notes and pockets
In that song we get terms like (in the pocket) and (Ghost notes). Lots of thangs going on on that stage even beyond James’ mastery of the stage and dance. Well, that’s what needs to happen to your brisket to be funkytender.
Okay, this is Prince
as we usually think of him in our minds when he is mentioned.
Now although he can sang a falsetto that rivals Joni Mitchell, and dress in assless pants, and prance around in high heels, we normally don’t think he can do-----
Honky Tonk Woman
Red House - Purple House
Leave that last one playing in the background and read on. The Guitar solo is heavenly at the end. It was recorded when Prince’s child died of Pfeiffer’s Syndrome and he just went out and performed to deal with it.
Now the real rockers out there who love Zepplin and the Stones and Hendricks are missing out due to their fear of the funk, huh?
Well now let’s get into the meat of the subject. Brisket. Now recently I have had a few e-mails that talk to me about people not quite getting the “feel” or texture right, or that think they have it down, only to either lose points at a contest on texture or eat a brisket that is more tender. I mean… tenderness has to terminate somewhere right… there has to be a tenderness level that expresses the true nature of what brisket can be, right? There is… and let’s for the sake of this argument FORGET KCBS, SMOKE, RUB and even BBQ in general to discover your meat.
I am sure some of you have heard about Texas standards of Brisket. But are too far away maybe to sample it. So how can we get people on the same page?
I want you to go out and buy a simple flat of brisket… about 5 lbs.. Don’t think about it… or try and get this article without doing it… just do it.
Now what I need you to do is season it with 2 things… please don’t get creative. In fact you men can supervise what you think is your worst cook in the house, your wife. Season it with salt (regular is fine) or Celery salt and Pepper.
3T Celery Salt
Season it not so much as a rub for BBQ but liberally none-the-less. Now lay that brisket fat up on a sheet of foil (has to be foil) and lay another sheet over it and seal the edges tight. No liquid inside…. Just the brisket and throw it in a 275 degree oven. NOT YOUR SMOKER!!!!!!! I want you to come back to it in 4 to 4 and a half hours depending on size.
This was my grandmother’s recipe served every Wednesday from 1970 to 1993 for my grandfather. She foiled it in the morning when she left for a Garden Club meeting and all My grandfather had to do was take it from the Fridge to the oven at 10 in the morning and the automatic timer would take it from there. He went to his golf game and the brisket came out when she got home at 5 or so. NOBODY WAS EVEN HOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Lastly let me add, there has been a lot of talk about foil and its reaction to salt and meat and possible memory loss due to the onset of Alzheimer disease. To satisfy those wackos I will ask you not to wrap this up and place in the refrigerator like my grandmother did. I think the Alzheimer, aluminum link is a bunch of malarkey and have used foil for years with no problem.
Do not peek at the brisket… we are gonna go Stevie Wonder on this… let him drum a bit, let Clyde Stubblefield get his piece in, let James do the Camel Walk, the Jerk and the James Brown and Bugaloo on it.
James Brown Lessons
don't click til Prince's Solo is done.
When the timer dings pull it out. DON’T PEEK and let it rest for 30 minutes to an hour. Don’t look.
Now just before your resting period is done, fire up your broiler, drain the fat and juices for gravy later open the foil and broil that fat cap ‘til its crispy.
Now when that’s done let it rest 15 and get out your knife, probe (without electronics) or whatever you intend to use from now on to check your brisket for doneness.
Now we are not at a contest, we don’t have to worry about creosote, rub, glaze, stupid azzed parsley shavings that need to be vacuumed up from your sample box, its just you and your meat.
Now probe it. Feel that texture? Remember that. We will argue about it later. SLICE THE BRISKET AT ONE INCH! NOT pencil width… not half an inch… One Inch. That’s Texas Brisket portions. Now as you eat it… tug at it… notice it should hold together, but pull apart with a slight snap, BUT a snap that has little recoil. That’s the nature of the brisket. The NATURAL way it was originally done back in the day.
But hey…. Does that mean I have to use foil all the time or that temperature?
NO! NO! NO!
What you want to try and do is endeavor to reach that level of tenderness and moistness without foil. Speaking of foil there has been a lot of talk about foil and its reaction to salt and meat and possible memory loss due to the onset of Alzheimer disease. I think the Alzheimer, aluminum link is a bunch of malarkey and have used foil for years with no problem.
On that Brisket we did not peek at all… we didn’t probe it to find out where the stall was occurring, or check the rub or mop it, or any of that stuff… we just let brisket be what it was.
You see briskets back in the day were simmered first then smoked on an open pit. Ignore what Robb Walsh wrote about Jetton and 18 hours, heck ignore Jetton’s own cookbook that came out in the 1960’s, ignore that Kreuz has been smoking their brisket all the way for 60 or more years. The chuck wagons cookeys lid simmered all their CUTS to reduce time and make a moister meat and penetrate flavor into the meat They had little time because they were (ON THEIR WAY TO KANSAS CITY). And guess what, anyone that uses foil is essentially simmering their brisket in a pot at some point. You are cooking the meat in an environment that is controlled by the presence of liquid (drippings) to keep the submerged portion of meat in the 212 degree range AND steaming it simultaneously.
So.. how come some guys can make a great and tender brisket WITHOUT wrapping or simmering? Well, round about the 60’s or so, when LBJ was president and there were a lot of Texas functions from NASA events to National Barbecues, Jetton began nixing the huge quarters of beef in favor of the briskets, which were more self baster’s. Now we will ignore the fact he simmered his briskets first, and concentrate on smoking environment and the nature of the brisket and what is going on. If you smoke your brisket at high enough temperature to ensure that the zone around the meat stays at 230 or so, the fat on top begins to crackle and pop and essentially mop that brisket with a FILM of grease that bastes it continuously. When fat is on the bottom, the fat film is still carried upward by natural heat movement, although less efficiently, but you get an added benefit that your flat typically cooks faster (thereby getting done closer to the point’s time) in this position with minimal drying. The closer you try to get to 212 the odds are at some point your brisket will STOP in the process for a moment until the temp gets above 212 again. Target House temp at 270, and smoker temp average of 240s give or take 10 degrees either way and you have NO problem... less drying too.
When you don’t open the pit for ANYTHING you ensure that ZONE keeps its integrity longer. Basically the environment your brisket is in is a moist, ever so slightly pressurized, greasy and lightly smoky and stabilized heated zone. The meat as well, its temperature serves to combat the zone as well. This is why UDS and Eggs put out some pretty good Q. Essentially your smoker is like a huge foil tent when you don’t peek and just let things be…. Not as aggressive as foil, but pretty good.
So back to your Oven Baked Brisket. Now you know the Texture standards of the BBQ mecca’s without going there. They have managed with little fanfare, (over glazes, aus jus, mops, elaborate rubs, wraps and marinades) to get a tender product. You can too… but you need to know where the true nature of the brisket is before you can try to target it, or dial it back for some less tender standard.
If you can get the texture down, and remember you will not be doing it in an oven but in a pit with a fire you have to keep “tuned” just right, you can forget all the nuances that other BBQ people talk about. While they talk about the merits of soaking the wood beforehand or using it dry you’ll have tender BBQ. While they debate over whether you should sprinkle or rub the seasonings, you’ll have better BBQ than most restaurants that serve it. And while they fight over using foil or plastic wrap; or finishing it off in the oven or on the pit, you’ll have your guests talking about your BBQ and wondering how you did it. Speaking of foil there has been a lot of talk about foil and its reaction to salt and meat and possible memory loss due to the onset of Alzheimer disease. I think the Alzheimer, aluminum link is a bunch of malarkey and have used foil for years with no problem.