Tuesday, December 20, 2011

BBQ Beef Brisket...The First Steps

Many of you have asked for it, so now here it is!  I had originally thought I would never share my secrets to brisket, but what good is it keeping something like this to yourself?  Much of the recipe is in fact taken from www.amazingribs.com but I have thrown in a few little tweaks that have turned out great!  I would recommend the amazing ribs website for a great variety of awesome BBQ recipes. 

This first post will focus on preparing a brisket for the grill or smoker.  That's right, if you don't have a fancy smoker, don't be discouraged!  I will show you a method that you can use with your BBQ grill that will both smoke and cook your meat.  I will demonstrate that tomorrow, but for now let's talk about the brisket in particular.
A whole packer brisket is quite a sight!  Typically, these big hunks of meat weigh in between 10 and 16 pounds, the average being about 14 pounds.  So now you are thinking, what am I going to do with all of that meat?  Or, can I have it cut into a smaller portion to fit my needs?  Well, you can find "cut" briskets, in the 6-8 pound range.  I would NOT suggest this.  With the smaller portions the meat will not cook the same, it most likely will be tough.  Stick with the whole packer brisket.  I guess you had just better plan on feeding a crowd or leftovers for a while!  Also, corned beef brisket is not the same as a regular brisket.  It has been "corned" which is an entirely different style of flavor.

 Now, before we get to preparing the meat, here are a couple of good things to know about the brisket.  This cut of meat has 2 main parts; the "point" (B) and the "flat" (A).  There are also a few different fat layers that separate these parts, as you will see in the diagrams.  The "point" is the thickest part of the brisket.  It contains the most fat layers, therefore is much more tender and moist.  The "flat" is a leaner portion of meat, and is most likely what you have been served in a restaurant when it comes to brisket.  Both are very tasty, but there are different ways to slice them, which we will get to when it is finished in a couple of days!  At this point it will just be good to know what the parts are when they are mentioned.

You want to start preparing the brisket about 24 hours before you are ready to start cooking it.  Keep in mind the brisket will take a good 12-16 hours to cook as well!  This project is not for the weary!  Rush it and you will ruin it.  Follow the directions and you can't go wrong. 

"silver skin" is visible in this photo (light areas on top)

The first step in preparing the brisket is trimming off the "silver skin".  The silver skin is tissue that can be very tough that sometimes does not fully get trimmed off of the whole packer brisket.  Simply "fillet" and of the silver skin that you find remaining off of the brisket.  Next, you will know some big chunks of fat on the brisket.  Ideally, you want about 1/4 inch of the fat remaining in all areas of the brisket.  Some people do not trim any fat at all.  This is up to you, but the meat will cook a little faster if you trim it down to 1/4 inch.  If you get to deep and hit the meat, don't worry, it will be OK!

Next, lightly coat the oil in vegetable oil, rubbing the oil into the meat.  The oil is going to help the meat to absorb the rub, which you are now ready for.  In a small bowl mix the following ingredients:

3 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
2 tablespoons table salt
1 tablespoon granulated white sugar
1 tablespoon onion powder
2 teaspoons mustard powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons chili or ancho powder
1 teaspoon chipotle or cayenne powder

The rest is simple, just sprinkle the rub over the brisket and rub it in.  The rub makes about 1/2 a cup, so I like to split it into fourths, a 1/4 cup for each side.  Now cover in plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours, but 24 hours if you can.  If it sits longer, no problem!  It can sit for a couple of days if you like.

 And there you go step one, the easy step complete.  Now get your rest, you are going to need it when you put this thing in the grill or smoker tomorrow!  In the mean time, here are some items you will need in preparation to cook the brisket:

A bag of Mesquite chips

2-aluminum "turkey" sized roasting pans.  I use the $2 disposable kind. (if you are using a grill and not a smoker/cooker.  If you are using a smoker you will only need 1 pan)

A meat thermometer (digital thermometers are better)

An "oven" thermometer.  The thermometers built into your grill are very inaccurate, it is VERY essential that you have a thermometer on the grill close to the meat.  Again, digital is preferred, but I get by with the old dial type

That's about it at this point.  Check back tomorrow as I explain the method to convert your grill to a smoker, and I will go over the process of cooking your brisket.  Don't shy away at this point!  Some of this may start to sound like to much work, and maybe you feel like you are going to mess it up.  My first brisket using this recipe turned out perfect!  Almost all reviews I have heard have said the same thing.  You have to give it a try.