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Texas smoked brisket

Before posting a recipe I want to say something about the culture of real BBQ in Texas.

“Barbeque” is actually a word used interchangeably to describe two different cooking styles. When most folks barbeque, they fire up the grill, let the charcoal briquettes glow white and slap on a steak. This process is quick, but it does little to enhance the flavor or tenderize the meat. Although Texans utilize this method (substituting mesquite wood for briquettes) for grilling steaks, they barbeque brisket, ribs, pork loin and other select cuts using an entirely different style. In Texas this style is called “pit” barbeque.

Texas style pit barbeque is an art form. It requires patience, understanding, and time to master, but the rewards are well worth the trouble. The meat is seasoned and cooked in an enclosed pit at low temperatures, usually in the 200 to 275 degree range using indirect heat that's produced by a slow burning hardwood fire. The meat is both smoked and cooked at the same time. Good barbeque is almost always cooked well done. Many Texas “Pit Men” cook their brisket 20 hours or more. This type of cooking produces some very flavorful meat and tenderizes even the toughest cuts.

One very popular misconception is that BBQ sauce is put on the meat while it's in the pit. This is totally untrue, and most Texans would be very suspicious of meat that was served with the sauce already on it. Real Texas Style Pit Barbeque is served with the sauce on the side so that it can be applied as the diner wishes. In fact, there are many barbeque joints in the Texas hill country where sauce is not served at all.

One way to positively identify real pit barbeque is by the “smoke ring”. This is the dark pink ring that shows on the outside edges of meat cooked in the pit. Sometimes smaller cuts of meat like ribs will be dark pink all the way to the bone. When you see that “smoke ring” you're eating real pit barbeque.

When any Texan worth his salt talks about barbeque, one of the first words out of his mouth will usually be “Brisket.” He's talking about beef brisket, a cut from the breast of a beef just behind the foreleg. A brisket is made up of two pieces of meat separated by a seam of fat. It's this fat that bastes the brisket during a long, slow barbeque. Brisket has a reputation for being a tough cut of beef, but what happens between brisket and barbeque is almost magical. The two were made for each other. If barbequed by someone who really knows what they're doing, there is no better eating on this earth.

Now hold onto your hats, folks, and I'll post a recipe presently.

Bill Bryant

New Member
  • Buy a whole, untrimmed USDA Choice grade brisket (or equivalent) still in the Cryovac packaging. This is referred to as "packer cut" or "packer trimmed" brisket.
  • Trim off most of the fat.
  • Rub the brisket with kosher salt, fresh cracked pepper, and a bit of crushed red pepper. (Add other ingredients to the rub as you desire, but it isn't necessary.)
  • Wrap the brisket in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Heat your smoker to 225F using Mesquite or Oak.
  • Put a temperature probe in the thickest part of the brisket so that you can monitor the temp while the meat is cooking.
  • Place the brisket in the smoker fat side down and keep the smoker closed at 225F for several hours. (This can be up to 10 or even 12 hours!)
  • When the internal meat temp reaches 170F remove the brisket from the smoker, wrap it in heavy foil, pour in a half cup of beer or Dr Pepper, seal it tightly, and put it back in the smoker.
  • When the internal meat temp reaches 180F, take the brisket out of the smoker, wrap towels around the foil-wrapped meat, and put the "baby" in a beer cooler or other insulated box.
  • After one hour, remove the brisket, slice across the grain, slather on a bit of BBQ sauce (NOT the Kansas City style!) and serve with corn on the cob, baked beans, cole slaw, and an ice cold Lone Star beer.

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