Friday, July 4, 2014

Smoked Beef Brisket with Texas-Style Sweet & Smoky Beans with Bacon & Jalapeños

This was our first attempt at smoking brisket and it turned out, well actually, really quite good! Not that there weren't lessons learned, e.g., Gil becomes a sleepy grump by 11pm, so he needs to start smoking the meat BEFORE 12pm, and potential for improvement (will inject the brisket next time with an apple cider mix to render the meat even more tender, especially the burnt ends). We divided our labor, with me concocting the spice rub and making the sides (potato salad and sweet & smoky Texas-style beans) and Gil doing the actual smoking. Smoking is a labor of love, and for this 11-pounder, it was 12 hours of low (heat) and slow cooking. 

11-15 lb. beef brisket (if not already trimmed, trim it down to about 1/4" - 1/2" of fat - some fat is needed to keep the meat tender & juicy during the long smoking period. Never buy frozen)

Vegetable oil

1 tbsp. kosher salt
1 tbsp. black pepper
2 tbsp. chili powder (I use New Mexico)
1 tbsp. granulated garlic
1 tsp. celery seed
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. ground oregano
1 tbsp. paprika
1 tsp. ground coriander
2 tsp. ground mustard
1 tsp. cayenne
3 tbsp. brown sugar

2 cups apple cider, poured into a plastic spray bottle

15-20 pieces of Hickory wood chunks, soaked in water for at least 20 minutes. 

Large bag of charcoal (Kingsford is best - do not use Matchlight or anything presoaked with lighter fluid when smoking cuz, well frankly, your food will smell and taste like, surprise surprise, lighter fluid! A tip from Dan da BBQ Man, my sis's BF)

1. Combine all the spice rub ingredients in a small bowl.

2. Rinse the brisket briefly and pat dry with lots of paper towels. Place the brisket on an aluminum tray or baking sheet.

3. Rub 1-2 tbsp. of vegetable oil over the brisket, then sprinkle the spice rub generously over the entire brisket. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and place in the refrigerator overnight.

4. Since I'm not a smoking guru (I just prep the ingredients), I can only give general instructions on the smoking process itself, based on Gil's feedback. He puts about 25 briquettes at the bottom of the smoker. Then he lights 25 briquettes in a chimney starter until they are white hot and puts them on top of the ones in the smoker. Add 3-4 pieces of the soaked hickory wood chunks. Gil used an iGrill digital thermometer with dual probes to measure the grill temp and internal meat temp. The cool thing is that it can be paired with your iPhone or Android so you can see the current reading and be alerted when the meat is done on your mobile device. 

5. Next, the brisket is placed on the upper grate in the smoker fat side up (believe it or not, there seems to be a ranging controversy in the webosphere whether brisket should be smoked fat side up or down, but we chose up).

6. Cover the smoker & maintain heat at around 200F for the next 6 hours. You will probably need to add about 15-20 briquettes to the smoker every hour during the entire cooking process.

7. After 3 hours, turn the brisket over (fat side down) and continue smoking another 3 hours. After a total of 6 hours, a nice dark "bark" should be forming over the brisket. Add more charcoal to the smoker and increase temperature to about 250F. Spray the brisket liberally with apple cider. Cover the smoker and continue to spritz the brisket with apple cider every 20 minutes for the next 2-3 hours. 

8. Remove the brisket to an aluminum baking pan, cover tightly with foil, and return to the smoker. Continue smoking another 2-3 hours or until the internal temperature is around 185-190F. 

9. Take the brisket out (do not remove foil and keep in roasting pan) and let rest for 20-30 minutes. 

10. Remove brisket to a chopping board and slice. The meat is chock full of flavor so you really don't have to serve it with sauce, but feel free to serve it with your fav BBQ or other sauce if that floats your boat. Texas-style sweet and smoky beans and potato salad pair well as sides. 

Notes for Next Time:
1. Consider injecting meat with straight apple cider and/or an apple cider concoction.

2. Instead of rubbing the meat with veggie oil to help the spice rub stick, slather a thin layer of yellow mustard over the brisket for enhanced flavor.

3. Come up with a light Carolina-style mustard based BBQ sauce as a a dipping sauce for the brisket.

Spice rub. 

Spice rub ingredients: ground cumin, cayenne, paprika, ground oregano, granulated garlic, onion powder, celery seed, ground mustard, chili powder, ground coriander. 

A beautiful brisket (grass fed beef from Idaho) from The Butchery in Brea 
On the pricey side, but you can't beat the quality.

Rinse and blot the meat dry with paper towels. 

Rub a bit of veggie oil on the meat to help the spice rub will adhere better.

Cover the brisket on all sides generously with the spice rub. 

Cover the brisket with foil and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or preferably overnight.

Hickory wood chunks (got these from Home Depot). 

 Soak wood chunks in water for at least 20-30 minutes. 

Gil heating a batch of briquettes in a chimney starter. 

Place the brisket fat side up on the grill grate. Insert thermometer probe in the meat as directed. 

Smoker should be at around 200F for the first 6 hours. With the iGrill, you can monitor temps, etc. on your iPhone. How cool is that? Thanks Dan & EE! 

After 3 hours, turn the brisket over. 

Continue smoking fat side down for another 3 hours at 200F. 

After a total of 6 hours, the brisket should be forming a nice dark "bark" on the surface.

After 6 hours, remove the brisket to an aluminum baking pan. 

Spritz the brisket liberally with apple cider.  

Cover the brisket tightly with foil and return to the smoker. Continue cooking another 2-3 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 185-190F. 

Let the meat rest, covered, for 20-30 minutes before slicing, and then, voila!

Slice and serve with your favorite sides. Potato salad and Texas-style sweet & smoky beans with bacon and jalapeños pair well.

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