Ask a Texan about barbecue, and it's beef brisket, not pork, that's on the tip of his or her tongue. If you're not from those parts, you're missing out on some good eating. All it takes is one bite of perfectly slow-cooked brisket, and you'll be hooked.
According to Jeff Shivers, native Texan and executive director of the International Bar-b-que Cookers Association, "Some folks in other parts of the country don't even know what brisket is. It's just now starting to become more popular in places other than Texas." Briskets sold in that state are larger than those sold elsewhere, mainly because there's a greater demand for the cut. Texans have no problem finding a 10-pounder. The rest of us find cuts ranging from 4 to 6 pounds.
Our Assistant Garden Design Editor, Troy Black, isn't from Texas, but you wouldn't know it by his brisket. Troy's Traditional Brisket recipe contains all the prerequisites of a true Texas brisket--a great rub, a juicy mop, and a long, slow smoking time. He's got the technique down to a science too.
- We got great results using a smoker with individually controlled vents such as the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker Smoker. Vents allow much better control of smoking temperature.
- Briskets vary dramatically in size but generally range from 5 to 16 pounds. Very large briskets are tougher than smaller ones.
- After brisket has been rubbed with a spice rub and chilled overnight, let it stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before placing on the grill or smoker. Otherwise, the outside of the meat will burn because the temperature extreme of chilled meat on a hot rack causes it to brown too soon.
- Don't rely solely on cook times. Use a thermometer, such as the Maverick Remote Smoker Thermometer. It monitors the smoking chamber temperature as well as the internal temperature from 100 feet away. You'll find it at www.thegadgetsource.com. It's $39.99 plus shipping.
- After smoking, wrap brisket tightly in aluminum foil, and let stand 1 hour. (Resist the temptation to cut into beef before then.) Beef will continue to tenderize as internal temperature drops.
- The brisket's done when a 1/4-inch-thick slice flops over your index finger. If it's so tender that it sticks to your palate, it's overn Cut meat thinly across the grain and serve immediately. (Meat dries out quickly after slicing.)
- For more information on smoking briskets visit: www.barbecuen.com, www.drbbq.com, or the International Bar-b-que Cookers Association at www.ibcabbq.org.