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Brisket

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
The best way to cook a Brisket ? Methods , procedures, recipes....


Thank you

Petals

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post #2 of 25
There are a lot of people on CT with some seriously good brisket recipes. I'm sure you'll have lots of wonderful choices in no time.

In my opinion, the best way by light years, is to smoke a whole brisket "low and slow." Before we get into it, do you have access to a smoker? Not a stovetop smoker, but the real McCoy -- one of sufficiently good quality that you can keep a fairly even temperature going for 8 - 18 hours.

There are all sorts of temperature strategies, but my favorite is to hold it steady right around 275F. I think MaryB, does it this way as well. It's the best balance between bark quality, juiciness, little to no "stall," and a reasonably quick cook (at least by brisket standards).

The second best way is to prep the brisket in the same manner as you would for barbecuing -- whole brisket, well trimmed but intact fat cap, injection, dry rub, etc., and cook it low and slow in the oven. No smoke alas, but at least juicy. Plan on about six hours for a whole brisket.

There are a few other good alternatives, braising for example, but they all call for very moderate temperatures and lengthy cooking times in order to denature the colagens and lipoproteins which otherwise make brisket, tough, greasy and dry.

Speaking of braising, brisket does a great Flamande.

In any case, low and slow wins the battle of the brisket.

A whole brisket (point and flat) cooks better than a partial. But whether you choose a full "packer" cut or a partial depends on availability, how many you're feeding, what your clients' preference is, etc.

Let me know whether you're smoking (I hope), roasting or braising and I'll be glad to give you something.

BDL
post #3 of 25
Thread Starter 
Chef BDL,


It will be a whole one.

How in the world can I rig my barbecue (or adjust it) to smoke the meat ?


Do I actually have to build a smoker ? Or buy One ?

Petals

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Petals
Réalisé avec un soupçon d'amour.

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Wine and Cheese
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post #4 of 25
Chef Petals,

What kind of barbecue grill do you have now? They can usually be rigged to cook indirect. If it's a larger gas-grill, no problem really. There are some some PITA work-arounds and some limitations, but you can do a wonderful job.

Similar story for a Weber kettle, but it's going to require A LOT of tending.

On the other hand, if it's a little Meco, forget it and go inside.

No matter how carefully we try to avoid it, we always end up being sucked beyond the event-horizon and into the black hole of "it depends." Maddening.

You don't need to run out and buy a real-deal smoker to cook one brisket. If you're interested in making smoking a part of your repertoire though, and now is the time to buy a smoker, the single most important characteristic in the equipment is ease of fire management.

The best beginners choice for almost everyone is the Weber Smokey Mountain -- in either size. $250 - $400. You can get hours and hours from a single load of charcoal with relatively little adjustment to hold a steady temp. They do double duty as portable grills, too. Very well made, and an extremely good bargain when you consider the competition.

On the other hand, I suggest avoiding less expensive, but similar appearing bullet type smokers -- especially Brinkmanns. The are known as ECBs (El Cheapo Brinkmanns) in what Escoffier called "le monde de 'Q." Not that you can't do a good job; just not as good or as reliably, and at the expense of a great deal more trouble.

Simlarly, stay away from small offsets ($150 - $500), unless you have a very compelling reason to buy one. I've been using one (several really) since the seventies, but I'm incredibly muled-headed and have tweaked mine to the max.

Good, medium-sized and large offsets allow you to do things you really can't do in any other portable smoker, like burn all wood, but they're very expensive and have a fairly steep learning curve. File them under the category of "not there yet."

If you're going to be doing a lot of smoking for clients, and can afford a bigger, better rig -- around $1,000 -- there are some very good electric and gas fired cookeds on the market., as well as a couple of charcoal fired cabinets (more money) which cook in catering quantities and don't require much tending.

Again, let me know.

BDL
post #5 of 25
At this point you, as a beginning smoker, should avoid offsets as they consume lots of wood and require frequent tending. Do you have a pile of smoke wood at your disposal?

As an owner of a Weber Smokey Mountain (hereafter, WSM), I find that the smaller but quite adequate WSM requires infrequent tending, like readjusting the vents durning an 18 hour smoke on only 1, ONLY ONE, load of Kingsford charcoal. Recently I discovered the joys of making homemade bacon at a cost of $2.25 a pound, including cure and charcoal - with minimal labor.

NB: the larger WSM can't cook as long a duration as the smaller unit and requires way more fuel; and, I strongly strongly recommend the smaller unit as your entry point into smoking. (Sorry to have hijacked this thread, heh heh.)

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Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
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post #6 of 25
Thread Starter 
Good laugh...(took a break to do the Partidge)



Well, that was very informative. I have a Broilmate. No great big deal. (Merde)

So it looks like we are going inside. I am not writing off the whole idea though, good project for next year. I have printed out both ideas...something to mull over.

So where do we go now ? Oven...pour le grand cuisson ?

Petals

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Served Up
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Wine and Cheese
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Petals
Réalisé avec un soupçon d'amour.

Served Up
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Wine and Cheese
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post #7 of 25
Chef Petals,

One of a few ways, I'd say.

Either do it in much the same way one would smoke. That is, trim it (in this case, take all of the fat cap, and as much of the knob between point and flat as possible); inject it; marinate it briefly (wine and worcestershire sauce); rub it; put it in a roasting pan, and roast uncovered for about two hours at 275, then add a little moisture to the pan (beer, wine and/or stock), cover it with foil and continue cooking until you hit an internal of 190 - 195. Then, remove it from the oven and allow it to rest for at least an hour. (You can rest it longer -- 6 hours even -- if you have a suitably sized, properly prepared, insulated cooler. The cheap foam jobs are fine.)

Near the end of the resting period, roast some root vegetables in a hot oven for garnish. Or roast some baby carrots and accompany with mashed potatoes, flavored with turnip or rutabaga. Also any sort of soul food, southern-barbecue, Texas barbecue, and many northern European type sides will do nicely.

A variety of sauces are possible. My two favorites are a bordelaise (butter finish, no marrow) by itself, or informed with a little homemade barbecue sauce.

There's a sort of Jewish/Eastern European standard which is to top it with carmelized onions, adding a bit of beefstock to the pan, and roasting covered in a slowish (300F) oven. There's a "housewife's shortcut" to that one, which is to rub the top with ketchup and pour Lipton's dry onion soup mix over that, and then cooking covered. Not bad actually, not bad at all. But you're not interested in the shortcut, are you?

Anyway, you improve the standard methods a great deal by using an inject. When it comes to roast or barbecued brisket, injects are way the pros go.

Or go a completely different route and do a braise. Brisket makes an incredible Carbonnade a la Flamande, Sauerbraten too. Any kind of potroast really. The only difficulty with braising brisket is that you just need to cook it in pieces large enough to take full slices later. (Brisket must be sliced correctly or it will be tough and/or stringy -- no matter how well it was cooked.) If you don't have the world's biggest rondeau, you can brown the pieces in one pan, deglaze the pan, and transfer to a foil covered roasting pan for the oven cooking. For the little it's worth, I separate the point from the flat, cut the flat in half, and trim off all the fat.

I'm really surprised you're not getting more input on roast brisket. As I said, there are a lot of good brisket cooks 'round here.

BDL
post #8 of 25
Thread Starter 
Fascinating read.....

I enjoy feedback, lots of research.....But I like your approach about injecting.

Sorry for my short answers today, alot of info....

It was a busy day. Slowing down. I had written a long winded answer but somehow I lost it ? Go figure ? You would of had a ball "a la critique".

"Keepsake" again.

Un gros merci encore....

Petals

Petals
Réalisé avec un soupçon d'amour.

Served Up
(168 photos)
Wine and Cheese
(62 photos)
 
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Petals
Réalisé avec un soupçon d'amour.

Served Up
(168 photos)
Wine and Cheese
(62 photos)
 
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post #9 of 25
Not much to add but if you want to consider a midrange smoker the Traeger pellet fired pits work well once you learn them. Brisket low and slow no matter how it is cooked is good eating!
post #10 of 25
Brisket is good.

One alternative to smoking is an overnight slow braise. Basically a very large pot roast. Put the brisket in a roasting pan, hopefully you have one big enough to hold it. I'm thinking whole packer cuts here, but one can adjust this method to suit a dainty little trimmed brisket.

On top of the brisket in the roasting pan put any or all of:

thick sliced onion, maybe 2 or 3

good handful of mushrooms, quartered

can of chipotles in adobo sauce

your favorite chiles, like anaheim, poblano, jalapeno, serrano, etc.

tomatillos

a head or two of garlic, broken into cloves, mostly, no need to peel

generous glugs of your favorite barbecue sauce


With this method the veggies can be in pretty big pieces. They'll cook down. Cover the roasting pan and put into your oven on its lowest temp, 200 F or so. This will take 10 - 12 hours. Some "smart" ovens will turn themselves off after a few hours, on the premise you went off and forgot what you are cooking. You don't want to wake up to a cold brisket in your oven.

After the overnight cook the brisket should be quite tender, the liquid very flavorful. There will be a lot of fat on top. If you use hot chiles like serranos, habs or chipotles most of the heat will be concentrated in the fat, thanks to the solubility characteristics of capsaicin. Skim and discard as much of the fat as you can, or save for frying some killer hash browns or whatever.

So now you've got this big piece of very flavorful meat that is falling apart tender, and a quantity of cooking juices from it. Slice it up and serve with the juices as they are, maybe puree the remains of the veggies in a blender, or make a thickened gravy, or use it all as a base for some great chili [My Texas red starts this way] save some to make a tasty soup, ...

mjb.
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post #11 of 25
Thread Starter 
Thank you,

I have been doing some research today , in your opinion is Mesquite the strongest additive to fire cooking or is it Hickory ?

I have also read about pecan wood. Would you be able to tell me abit about these things as I am officially , "Barbecue Impaired".

Here in the great old back woods of the Canadian forests, we grow alot of different types of trees, would maple play a part in smoking or cherry or butternut wood for that matter ?

Great topic ,

Petals

Petals
Réalisé avec un soupçon d'amour.

Served Up
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Wine and Cheese
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Petals
Réalisé avec un soupçon d'amour.

Served Up
(168 photos)
Wine and Cheese
(62 photos)
 
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post #12 of 25
Mesquite is probably the most strongly flavored, I usually reserve it for direct grilling of steaks and lamb. Too much mesquite smoke is obviously too much. Hickory is not quite as strong but somewhat distinctive. Fruit and nut wood tends to be pretty mild, producing a 'sweeter' smoke. I've not used oak varieties much, so no useful comments on those.

mjb.
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post #13 of 25
I have lots of pecan wood in my backyard. To use properly, the wood should be red hot and not smouldering. Such an approach may require that the wood be reduced to smaller chunks just larger than chips - to avoid the overpowering dry bitterness that pecan can give if fired at too low a temperature..

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Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
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post #14 of 25
I've been itching to do a brisket, myself.

A few months ago I built a ceramic smoker out of terra cotta flower pots and I've been smoking in it every weekend. I have several pork butts and turkeys under my belt, but I've yet to venture into a brisket.

When the time comes, I'll probably cook it over mesquite at around 225 for 18-24 hours after an overnight marinade and dry rub.
post #15 of 25
If it's an Alton Brown style flower pot cooker, with the thermometer at the top. And it actually lands at 225 F*, which is pretty much hit or miss in a hot-plate fired cooker; and it hold a steady temperature, which is highly unlikely in a non hot-plate fired cooker -- then it will probably finish quicker then 18 - 24 hours. Depending on size and other variables actual cooking time will probably be more like 16 hours.

Really long cooking times can be restaurant propaganda.

A brisket is done when it's done and you shouldn't take it beyond an internal of 200F, except for "burnt ends."

The most important advice for any new "pit master," is NO PEEKING. Every time you open your pit to do anything it completely destabilizes the pit's humidity and temperature, causing the meat to cook longer and drier.

NO PEEKING. Don't "baste" if you don't have to; and no matter what your recipe says you don't have to during the first half of the cooking period. Do not turn the meat obesseively. Do not look at it, prod it or poke it, or otherwise check on it, until it's absolutely necessary because it's nearly done.

NO PEEKING. There are a few things you have to do; for instance, you do have to turn in a cooker which isn't well tuned, because otherwise the meat will cook unevenly. But do as little as possible, do it as quickly as possible and get the door closed (or the lid on) as quickly as possible.

Trust me on this.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, for any pit (or pot) is a thermometer which will give you the temperature at the cooking grid where the meat is actually cooking -- rather than at the top or the door. The best option for nearly everyone is a Maverick RediChek ET-73 (available from many places online, Amazon does NOT have the best prices).

BDL
post #16 of 25
Petals,

Here are a few basics about some of the more popular smoke woods. But, you may be better starting a new thread -- it's a big topic and should receive a lot of input and attention.

The wood menu in this post represents of the woods you're most likely to find. But there are others -- and my discussion is by no means complete or inclusive. When you have questions about any other, you can look it up online. There are a number of tables posted -- and most of them agree as to the major points. Kind of amazing, really.

You'll find a lot of great information here, BBQ FAQ Forward. The FAQ is a wonderful source with a single caveat. It's dated -- especially as to equipment, but methods too. Time marches on and techniques advance.

Another good sources is, The Virtual Weber Bullet - For the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker smoker enthusiast. Although it's dedicated to the Weber Smokey Mountain (WSM), there's a lot of good information. Bear in mind, the technique and information guides on the site are good, but not gospel.

The most popular strong woods are hickory, mesquite and red and white oak. Like many smokewoods, all three have regional associations: Hickory with the south; Mesquite with the southwest; red oak (and live oak!) with California, and white oak with parts of the midwest.

A few woods are too strong to control easily, and should be avoided until you have a very good idea of what you're doing. Walnut, for instance.

Some popular medium woods include alder, apple, cherry, citrus, grape cuttings, maple, peach, pear and pecan. Almost any fruitwood fits into this category. Some have strong regional associations, others are liked everywhere.

Sometimes Americans (and Canadians, too) get the idea that cooking with smoke was invented in this hemisphere. Not so. You can figure out which woods were and are popular in which countries, by their regional associations. Oak and cherry are bothy very popular throughout northern Europe.

I'm not going to bother listing very mild woods -- for one thing, you can get better flavor with a strong, mesquite charcoal; for another, if you're using charcoal for heat and wood for flavor (which is how the most popular smokers work), the charcoal will overwhelm the wood.

You'd already figured out that each wood has its own character, and some work better with some foods, or you wouldn't have asked. Yes. But... (I hate that "but" as much as "it depends.") It depends. (Dammit!) Among the various factors to consider is what type of cooker you're using, what kind of fuel it burns to make heat, and how well it and you can manage the fire. Without knowing those things, it's hard to make spot on recommendations. Also, a lot of differences assume bigger proportions reading about them, then they do in properly cooked food and can be "distinctions without a difference," as the saying goes. Take it all with a grain of salt, and preferably a dry martini.

Getting to brisket (at last) specifically... Beef likes strong smoke. Since southern barbecue is traditionally pork, you can infer that hickory is not a "traditional" wood for brisket. If you do, you're right. That doesn't mean it doesn't work though. But it's not among my first choices.

Barbecued brisket, as we know it, started pretty much a Texas phenomenon. Mesquite was and is the choice in Texas 'Q. Beef in general and mesquite in particular tolerate strong smoke. Mesquite is a strong wood, so there you go. More generally, mesquite can be used to smoke any food. You do have to moderate it somewhat, by limiting the amount of time you burn smokewood, and/or by mixing it with a milder wood. When it comes to brisket, mesquite should always be among your first choices.

I'm from California, have spent a great deal of time, and sucked up a lot of calories in the central coastal valley area where "Santa Maria Barbecue" was born. Actually it should be called California coastal valleys barbecue, but don't get me started. Anyway, we like oak. We especially like red oak and live oak. But for most people, when it comes to cooking in a regular "smoker," white oak is close enough. Oak smoke has a rounder, smoother characeter than the sharper mesquite. It's not quite as strong, and is the best all 'rounder. Great for brisket.

Cherry is a good choice, but a skosh mild for beef. Mixed with oak or mesquite -- wonderful.

Maple and maple/pecan are my first choices for lots of things. For beef though, I like to mix maple with any of the big three (hickory, mesquite, oak). And yes, even hickory/maple is a great combination for brisket.

Hope this helps,
BDL
post #17 of 25
BDL-

Nice rundown.

Alder, of course, is the wood of choice for salmon; used by the Pacific Northwest tribes from time immemorial.

The best barbecue I've ever found is at a black guy's streetside stand in a very doubtful neighborhood in Houston. It's smoked over a mix of pecan and white oak. It's so good you don't much care about the sauce, although his sauce is a good, workmanlike and middle-of-the-road concoction. :thumb:

Mike
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post #18 of 25
Thread Starter 
Chef BDL,


That had to have been the most informative , educational , concise bit of knowledge on woods and flavors.
I have done alot of research yesterday on the topic (still learning) but not very many have spelled it out as clearly and thorough as what you have just explained.

The topic of woods just fascinates me because I have a passion for wood and wood boxes, from birch right up to my favorite, Purple Heart (which is very heavy, hard, strong with good resistance , especially in steam-bending.....yes I have made a few boxes ) Cocobolo , African Padauk (which has the most intoxicating aroma when cut with a solid band saw, besides white cedar (soft wood)...oh the smell is so wonderful. These are exotic woods and do not cut very easily).

Getting back on track.....

I love the idea of blending two different flavors together.
Maple and maple /pecan sound like a hit as well as cherry and oak but I guess it all "depends" on the cook for that matter, taste too.

There is so much history behind the origin of this, its an art all on its own.
I am beginning to see where and why so many different opinions vary from place to place.
From the type of machine, to the flavors, wood, time, etc....
One can make a living just knowing this information.

Merci Tellement pour les reseignments.
Canadians have so much to learn from the American way of cooking brisket.

Martini .....only way to go. "Bartender, throw a little salt please, pour mes amis ici."

Ardent and quite telling.

Petals

PS. Is it a good thing to soak the wood in water or not ??
I have also read that in soft woods there is too much pitch, which may ruin the or change the flavor of the meat, is that so ?
Forgive the pest......

Petals
Réalisé avec un soupçon d'amour.

Served Up
(168 photos)
Wine and Cheese
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Petals
Réalisé avec un soupçon d'amour.

Served Up
(168 photos)
Wine and Cheese
(62 photos)
 
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post #19 of 25
Wet wood equals steam and not smoke so never soak chips or chunks (cold smoking with sawdust is an entirely different subject than this post). Clean burning wood produces a very sweet and distinctive smell. Poorly burning gives off a bitter smoke that will make your food taste nasty. Soft woods like pine have to much sap and will give off lots of creosote making your food taste terrible.
post #20 of 25
MaryB couldn't have stated it any better. NEVER USE CONIFERS AS SMOKEWOOD. Clean burning wood i.e. hotter burning wood produces the best flavor as opposed to her stated POORLY BURNING wood. If your smoked product turns out bitter tasting, then I highly recommend reducing the size of your smokewood chunks even all the way to bare chips.

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

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Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
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post #21 of 25
In general fruitwoods and nutwoods are suitable as smokewoods.

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
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Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
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post #22 of 25
It is an AB-style cooker, but I assembled mine with a 1000W hotplate, and even modified it a bit, so my cooker will reach more like 275, and maybe even 300... I haven't maxed it out yet.
post #23 of 25
Brisket in my neck of the woods = sitting it on a trivet of carrots and onions and cooking the bejeezuz out of it all Saturday afternoon. Stick it in the fridge and come Sunday dinner, slice it up, pour over the liquor and heat up.

It actually tastes fantastic. Add roasters and frozen sweetcorn n peas. To follow, meringue nest and tinned fruit n cream and It's 15 years ago at my mother-in-laws for Sunday dinner. She's ancient now and cant manage it any more. But we all lapped it up.
"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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post #24 of 25

I looked up "brisket" and I found this :^)

 

Today I braised (for almost 4 hours) a 3-pound cut of beef brisket with salt and Penzey's corned beef seasoning and it came out great.  Mmmm  No curing, though that might have been better, not sure.  I'll make it like this again.

post #25 of 25
Ugly drum smoker can be built for less than $100. Almost as good as a WSM.
I smoke @ 225-250, and when it's done it's done. Usually 1 to 1-1/2 he per pound. Lots of good info above. Check out "thesmokering.com"
Jarhead
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