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Spotlight on Powerful Braises

Spotlight on Powerful Braises


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We're obsessed with smothering beef in classic braising liquids (stock and beer), but try adding a splash of these for bolder flavor.

Eating healthy should still be delicious.

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Keep Reading:

  • Cooking Class: Braising
  • Braised Meat Recipes
  • Use Your Slow Cooker for Fork-Tender Braises

What’s in Season: Oranges

A good orange is the gift that keeps on giving. Oranges add brightness to the kitchen or dining table, spruce up anything from drinks to braises to cookies, and fill the room with their refreshing scent as soon as their peel is pierced. They are one of the most popular, available fruits in the world, common to many cultures, from China, where they likely originated, to the Mediterranean, South Africa, Mexico, and beyond. The United States is the second largest grower worldwide, with California and Florida leading production. Even right here in coastal and southern Georgia, we can grow fresh local oranges from December to March.

Types and Selection
Depending on the season, your average grocery store will usually carry Valencia or Navel oranges, both sweet varieties rather than sour. The best fruits tend to be firm, smooth, bright, and heavy lighter oranges may be dried out. You may also find the sourer, pinkish Cara Cara oranges or blood oranges slightly later in the season. We encourage you to try these beautifully colored varieties in desserts, cocktails, and salads—a feast for the eyes and taste buds! If you don’t normally go for green salads, indulge your sweet tooth and master the art of segmenting oranges with our step-by-step guide to Ambrosia, an old-fashioned fruit salad.

Keep on Juicin’
Most Americans have probably had the good fortune of a delicious glass of fresh orange juice, but juice can also be used to flavor caramel, cakes, poaching liquids, mulled beverages, and frostings. Orange zest is also a great, easy savory ingredient for the home cook, bringing a tartness that takes on a caramelized, almost smoky taste when cooked into savory preparations. Both the juice and zest make powerful accents in salad dressings, pastas, marinades, and sauces, notably cranberry and tomato. You can even make your own citrus-y peach “honey” by boiling down the fruit and preserving it—a great gift idea—in cute little mason jars!

Nutrition
We know they are an excellent source of vitamin C, as well as calcium and other important dietary minerals. They can also be used in fragrances and to alleviate a range of digestive and skin conditions.

So go buy a big bag and start experimenting with these recipes from the Paula Deen Kitchen:


But first, what is an Instant Pot?

Instant Pot is actually the brand name for an electric multicooker, but it&rsquos most well-known for being an electric pressure cooker. It produces steam, which is trapped inside the pot to build pressure and cook your food extremely quickly. While manual pressure cookers are old hat, the Instant Pot has only been around since 2010. The most basic model has six functions: pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, sauté pan, steamer and food warmer (but some fancier models have up to ten functions, including yogurt maker, cake maker, egg cooker and sterilizer). Instant Pots are good for saving time on foods that would otherwise take ages to cook, like grains or tough cuts of meat.


What’s in Season: Garlic

There’s nothing like the smell of cooking garlic to whet the appetite. It enhances the taste of just about anything besides dessert, making it one of the most useful ingredients in the kitchen. Humans have exploited its culinary and other purported properties for thousands of years all over the world. It can bolster a marinade, pack spice in dips and sauces, including pesto, round out braises, soups, and stews, combine with meat and seafood for mouthwatering sensations, and of course pastas, which can be helplessly flat without garlic.

Garlic should be a constant pantry staple. Combat its aftereffects by favoring recipes where it’s cooked, cut small, and combined with acids like mustard, vinegar, citrus, or herbs like mint or parsley.

A Little Background
Garlic is part of the allium family, like shallots and onions. Supermarkets usually sell cured garlic, which is harvested and consumed year-round for an extended shelf-life of 6-12 months. Fresh (green) garlic and its scapes are typically harvested and eaten during mid-late summer.

Garlic’s most powerful compound, allicin, loses potency when cooked, so nutritionists often recommend consuming it raw or lightly cooked. Studies suggest that daily consumption of garlic may contain many health-related benefits from remedying strep throats to fighting cancer.

Buying, Storing, and Preparing
Shop for very firm bulbs with tight skin. Smaller cloves tend to have more flavor, but the biggest cloves are easier to handle, so consider how you’ll be cutting and tasting it.

Garlic keeps best in cool, dry, well-ventilated containers such as baskets or mesh-bags refrigeration should be minimal and freezing is not advised. Sprouted cloves (with central green shoots) should be removed due to bitterness.

Peeling garlic isn’t the end of the world! Smashing cloves with the heel of your knife on a flat surface, squeezing the skin at the ends, or tossing a bunch between small bowls so the skins rub together will provide a head-start. Once you taste the difference between freshly minced and jarred garlic, you’ll probably forget about store-bought products.

Other Culinary Tips
Roasting garlic is an invaluable skill. Use roasted garlic to blend with butter, like our zesty garlic bread, combine with dressings and dips, or serve plattered with a big holiday roast.

Peeled garlic also lends itself well to pickling for an antipasto platter, brining and confits.

When sautéing or sweating garlic, it burns fast, so it’s typically added after you’ve softened your onions, as in this Very Green Soup.

Check out these test kitchen recipes to see some of our favorite things to do with garlic!


The Ultimate Texas

Your guide to the many types of tacos around the state, where to find them, and how to enjoy them!

B ack in April, as we were grappling with the early stages of the pandemic, I wrote an optimistic ode to what I called “the enduring taco.” Not only did my favorite food offer tortilla-wrapped comfort when we needed it most, but its versatility, economy, and portability made it almost pandemic-proof. “There’s never been a better time to sell tacos,” Andrew Savoie, the chef and co-owner of Dallas’s Resident Taqueria, told me at the time.

What I’ve witnessed this year backs up Savoie’s assertion. Comedor and Suerte, two high-end Austin restaurants, pivoted to selling taco kits after dining rooms were closed across the state. Torchy’s Tacos went ahead with pre-pandemic expansion plans and, since March, has opened nine new restaurants in Texas and three other states. Nationally, food delivery service company DoorDash reported in July that its customers said they missed dining on Mexican food more than any other cuisine during quarantine. With more people making tacos at home, tortilla sales across the country rose a reported 10 percent.

As we’ve all had to do this year, taquerias have adapted and evolved. While the basic framework of tortilla-plus-filling-plus-salsa remains, the taco continues to change in new and exciting ways. Just look at the many types now available across Texas, where the twin forces of tradition and modernization keep things interesting. Tradition is sustained in the rural areas of the state, with their decades-old homey Mexican diners and cafes. In our cities, chef-driven restaurants and freewheeling pop-ups are experimenting, sometimes subtly and other times with abandon. Several of the styles growing in popularity include costras, with tortillas covered in griddled cheese birria de res tacos, filled with slow-cooked beef and served with a side of consommé and Japanese tacos, combining ingredients and methods you might find in Tokyo and Tijuana.

At Texas Monthly, we have long chronicled the changing landscape of Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine. In our most recent taco cover story, in 2015, the magazine published a hefty compilation of the top 120 tacos in the state. When I came aboard as TM’s first taco editor late last year, I began working on the long-planned follow-up to that list. Then COVID -19 forced life (and our plans) to a head-jerking halt. Since travel became difficult, we needed to revise our strategy.

So we took our cues from the state’s taco chefs and cooks—most of them Latinos, one of the groups hit hardest by the coronavirus—who reimagined and reinvented themselves this year. Instead of a best-of list, we’ve assembled the “Ultimate Texas Tacopedia,” a compilation of the state’s favorite and most exciting taco styles that spells out where to find the best specimens of each dish. You'll also find links here to our “Taco Trails,” featuring dozens of recommended taquerias in six regions of the state, as well as taqueria spotlights, tips on "How to Taco," and more. ¡Buen provecho!


Chefs’ Collective Gift Guide: Ray Garcia

Ray Garcia knows a thing or two about kitchenware. Before becoming the executive chef and co-owner of two of Los Angeles’ hottest restaurants, Broken Spanish and BS Taqueria , he put in years of time behind the stove at some of Southern California’s most respected institutions. With the holidays in full swing, this Williams-Sonoma Chefs’ Collective member has plenty of ideas when it comes to gifting instrumental tools in the kitchen. Here are five things he can’t live without that he thinks should be at the top of every cook’s holiday wish list.

All-Clad Deluxe Slow Cooker with Cast-Aluminum Insert, 7-Qt : A slow cooker is clutch in any kitchen environment. They don’t take up a lot of space and are amazing for slow cooking — braises, stews, soups, and beans are just a few of the places where they excel.

Lodge Round Fry Pan : This is a must for any kitchen. It’s great for everything from frying eggs to searing a steak and even baking.

Molcajete : We have a giant molcajete at Broken Spanish this is a great centerpiece for any kitchen counter. It works for grinding spices, or making marinades, sauces or salsas. Molcajetes also make good serving vessels for large holiday dinners.

KitchenAid Professional 620 Stand Mixer : The standing mixer is a powerful and versatile tool with many sweet and savory applications. We use it mostly for dough and masa, but it can be a great tool for sausage making and pasta rolling as well.

Breville Oracle Espresso Maker : This is a luxury item for sure, but worth the splurge if you are a coffee drinker. This machine makes perfect espresso every time.

Check out even more holiday gift suggestions from our Chefs’ Collective in our 2015 Holiday Entertaining Guide .


How does a slow cooker work?

Traditional slow cookers have a high and low setting. The high temperature usually cooks around 212°F, while the low hovers above 200°F. Some slow cookers also have a keep warm setting (165°F), which is above the food-safe temperature of 145°F without overcooking the food. Newer models can brown and others have specific settings for rice and even sous vide. Not having to take out an extra pan to perform these tasks saves time and clean up!

The newest way to slow cook is in a multi cooker that can also pressure cook (some even air fry!). Large cuts of meat, like pulled pork, cook well in a slow cooker because the tough muscle fibers break down over time, allowing the meat to get nice and tender. Stews also work well because cheaper cuts of meat can be used and vegetables won&rsquot get overcooked.


Cooking With Ever-More-Popular Pomegranate

Pomegranates are a great way to add a burst of color and taste to a variety of dishes. They're also packed with nutirents. And they're at the peak of their season right now.

On The Early Show Thursday, Bon Appetit magazine Contributing Editor Dede Wilson imparted some great recipes, as well as easy-to-follow pointers for buying and cooking with pomegranates.

Since widespread distribution in the United States and Canada was started in 2002, the popularity of pomegranate juice has been steadily rising.

The round fruit of the shrub-like pomegranate tree is about as big as a baseball, leathery on the outside, and packed with juicy, edible seeds -- about 600, on average.

Its tangy-sweet flavor gives lift and dimension to Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, and even Mexican cooking. Ruby-like pomegranate seeds look beautiful scattered over tossed salads, chicken sautés, lamb stews, couscous, and fruit salads. And just a dash of thick pomegranate molasses gives alluring sweet-tartness to vinaigrettes, marinades, braises, and dips.

When buying pomegranates, look for fruits that are hard on the outside and feel heavy for their size pass on any that have cracks or bruises. Rind color, which ranges from bright pink to red to brick, indicates variety, rather than ripeness. Choose the largest fruits you can find the bigger the pomegranate, the juicier it will be.

Trending News

As for storing them: Whole fruits can be kept at room temperature for a week, or in the fridge for two. Or remove the seeds and seal them in an airtight container they'll keep for five days in the fridge, or up to three months in the freezer.

Pomegranates are a good source of vitamin C and potassium, plus antioxidants known as polyphenols. Eating them may support cardiovascular health and help avoid certain kinds of cancer.

In addition to pomegranate juice, you can find vodka, salad dressing, ice cream, salsa, lollipops and gummy bears. In the last few years, hundreds of new pomegranate products have come on the market.

Some Jewish scholars believe that it was the pomegranate that was the forbidden fruit of the Garden of Eden!

The pomegranate is native from Iran to the Himalayas in northern India, and was cultivated and naturalized over the whole Mediterranean region since ancient times.

Mediterranean Salad with Prosciutto and Pomegranate

Pomegranate seeds add brightness to the look and flavor of this starter.

2 cups very thinly sliced fennel bulb
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
6 cups arugula (about 4 ounces)
1 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/4 cup thinly sliced mint leaves
1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 3-ounce packages thinly sliced prosciutto, torn into strips
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds

Toss fennel and 1 tablespoon olive oil in medium bowl. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Combine arugula, green onions, mint, vinegar, and 2 tablespoons olive oil in large bowl toss. Season with salt and pepper.

Divide greens among plates. Top with fennel, then drape with prosciutto. Sprinkle pomegranate seeds over.

For more recipes, go to Page 2.

Pomegranate-Marinated Lamb with Spices and Couscous

Sweet-tart pomegranate adds intriguing depth to this braise. It can be made with boneless or bone-in meat. If using boneless, buy a half pound less lamb.

1/2 cup pomegranate molasses (a thick pomegranate syrup available at some specialty supermarkets, and Middle Eastern markets)
4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground cumin, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 pounds lamb shoulder blade chops, cut into 3/4-inch square pieces, bones reserved
1 1/4 cups water, divided
2 cups low-salt chicken broth
1 10-ounce box plain couscous
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 cup pomegranate seeds
3 tablespoons torn basil leaves

Whisk pomegranate molasses, coarsely chopped garlic, olive oil, ground ginger, cinnamon, 1 3/4 teaspoons cumin, paprika, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in large bowl. Add lamb and toss to coat. Cover and marinate 2 hours at room temperature, or up to 2 days in the refrigerator. Drain, reserving marinade. Pat lamb dry.

Heat heavy large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add meat and bones, if using, and cook until browned, turning occasionally, about 2 minutes total per batch. Return all lamb and bones to skillet. Add reserved marinade and 1/4 cup water. Cover with lid slightly ajar and simmer over medium-low heat until meat is tender, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Meanwhile, bring remaining 1 cup water and chicken broth to boil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add couscous and remaining 1/4 teaspoon cumin. Remove saucepan from heat and let stand covered 5 minutes. Fluff couscous with fork, then stir in butter until melted. Divide couscous among plates and top with lamb, pomegranate seeds, and basil leaves, spooning remaining sauce over lamb.

This sheet cake has a homespun look but gets exotic flavor from a spice blend-and a pomegranate glaze.

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs
3/4 cup pomegranate juice, divided
4 teaspoons grated lime peel, divided
1/2 cup plain Greek-style yogurt (a thick yogurt sold at some supermarkets, specialty foods stores, and Greek markets)
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup pomegranate seeds
2 tablespoons thinly sliced mint leaves

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour 13x9x2-inch cake pan. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl.

Beat sugar and butter in large bowl until well blended, 1 minute. Using electric mixer, add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in 1/2 cup pomegranate juice and 2 teaspoons lime peel (mixture may appear curdled). Beat flour mixture into batter just until blended. Stir in yogurt.

Spread batter in pan. Bake until tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Let cake cool 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, sift powdered sugar into medium bowl whisk in 1/4 cup pomegranate juice, vanilla, and 1 teaspoon lime peel.

Using fork, poke holes over top of warm cake, spacing 1 inch apart. Pour glaze over cake and spread evenly. Cool completely.

To serve, sprinkle pomegranate seeds, mint, and 1 teaspoon lime peel over cake.


The Autoimmune Protocol – an Update

…except I don’t live in Hawaii and I’m am not vegan. Also, I eat animal protein, cook my food and can’t remember the last time I smoked pot…! But, otherwise – we’re almost like twins, really.
(Image from here)

Here in TSL-land, we’ve now been on the Autoimmune Protocol for ten weeks. I know – ten whole weeks! I can hardly believe it. And during that time, while LM has fallen off the wagon every now and then, I’ve been pretty religious about following the protocol.

In case you need a wee reminder, that means:

  • No eggs
  • No nuts
  • No seeds (including cocoa, coffee – yes, coffee! – and seed-based spices)
  • No nightshades (potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, capsicums, chillies, cayenne, and all spices derived from peppers, including paprika)
  • No fructose consumption in excess of 20g per day (that’s a couple of pieces of fruit)
  • No alcohol
  • No NSAIDS (like aspirin or ibuprofen)
  • No non-nutritive sweeteners (yes, all of them)
  • Cutting out all other food additives

All in all, I have to say, it has been much easier than I expected. The food is fresh, clean and tasty. I’m never left hungry – thanks to the fat content. It’s not complicated to prepare. And, as long as I have a fridge stocked with a variety of fresh veggies and happy protein, I don’t struggle with what to eat at all.

I have become the master (mistress?) of both slow braises and of the veggie hash for breakfast. Homemade lacto-fermented vegetables are eaten daily. Bone broth is always in my fridge. I’ve discovered the magic that is frozen banana ice cream. Even though I ate a reasonable amount of vegetables before AIP, I reckon I’ve about tripled it. In fact, I now actively look for opportunities to eat more vegetables. I’m eating a greater variety, too. And that can only be a good thing.

Surprisingly, because people tend to associate a ‘Paleo’ style diet with high quantities of animal protein, my protein consumption has actually gone down. All those vegetables!

In addition, my sleep is much better. I wake feeling refreshed. I’m not waking during the night. And, while I didn’t realise it before, I think I’m a nicer person to be around. Less anxious, maybe? I don’t seem to sweat the small stuff as much.

As for my autoimmune issues? Or, at least the one I knew about – completely in remission on the Autoimmune Protocol. Gone. After 23 years. Pretty powerful stuff.

Oh – and, I’ve lost 6 kilos. Slow and steady wins the race, they say!

Although the regime has been easier than I expected, it does have some drawbacks. I think the biggest one is that you really do have to spend time in the kitchen. For me, this isn’t a hardship. I love to cook. And, it is possible to spend a few hours over the weekend preparing food for the week ahead. My sister does this every Sunday – so, I know its do-able. Batch cooking truly is your friend.

Its hard on your social life. I think we’ve been to a restaurant twice in the last ten weeks. Dining out with all these dietary restrictions is almost impossible. For me, the way around this is to entertain at home. But, when I consider that LM and I were, until recently, known amongst our friends as the foodies who dined out all the time, life is very different now.

Re-introduction takes time and must be controlled. When I started this protocol, I already ate pretty clean. I knew I had an issue with gluten, so that wasn’t a big deal for me. This past weekend, my Mum has been visiting from New Zealand. I decided, after over 9 weeks of this caper, that I would indulge in some red wine, some coffee (with cream) and some homemade chicken liver pâté made with cultured ghee… BAD IDEA! Something in that medley of yumminess did not agree with me. Within 12 hours, my autoimmune symptoms were back. I’m pretty confident it was the dairy (and – please, please, PLEASE – not the red wine or the coffee), but I just don’t know for sure. So, its back on the strict protocol for two more weeks before I start reintroducing foods one at a time and in a controlled fashion.

And, just like magic…

As if she read my mind, the very talented Eileen over at Phoenix Helix has literally just this week launched an e-book on Reintroducing Foods on the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol. I think she must be psychic. Are you psychic, Eileen? The book provides a step-by-step guide to reintroducing foods in a structured and controlled way. And, she provides recipes. I suspect it may become my bible over the coming weeks.


How do you cook a brisket? That is probably the most common question I receive from readers, right up there with How do you cook ribs? Texas style smoked BBQ brisket is tricky, and if you are new to low-and-slow smoking in general, I recommend you start with pulled pork before tackling a smoked brisket recipe. Pork butt is much more forgiving, and you can overcook it without severe consequences. Not so for beef brisket.

Once you master the basics, however, making this smoked brisket recipe is not as difficult as you might think. You just need a good recipe loaded with proven techniques and useful tips. In this article, you’ll find everything you need to cook a tender barbecue beef brisket, including how to season it, how long to smoke it, how to slice it, and everything in between! Like the sign says outside of House Park Bar-B-Que in Austin, Need No Teef To Eat My Beef ! (Click here to Tweet this bit of wisdom) !

A whole BBQ beef brisket (a.k.a. packer’s cut brisket) is a huge hunk of cow that comes off the smoker deep ebony in color, almost black, looking more like a meteorite than a meal. But it is not burnt, and beneath the crust is the most tender, juicy, meat full of husky, beefy flavor. IF you cook it right. And that’s a BIG IF. Like a Clint Eastwood cowboy, brisket is unforgiving. Cooking it wrong can result in meat as tough as a wrangler’s leather chaps. Now if you are smoking a smaller portion of a whole packer brisket, it can be even more difficult.

That’s why I created a smoked brisket recipe that ensures mouthwatering barbecue brisket every time. Some hot shots may dispute my choices, but if you start here, you can then riff on the options and consider the controversies discussed below the recipe. Your effort yields meat that is a bit dry or tough? Then try again. Sometimes it’s the steer, not the brisket recipe or the cook!

Brisket anatomy

Briskets are the pectoral muscles from the chest of the steer between the forelegs. Each animal has two, and because cattle have no collarbones, these boneless muscles bear quite a load. There isn’t much fat marbling within the muscle, and there’s a lot of springy connective tissue in and around the muscle fibers. That’s why briskets are so tough.

Much of the world’s brisket is made into corned beef, pastrami, or pot roast, but it is also a fine cut for barbecue, and it is required cooking contests sanctions by the Kansas City Barbecue Society (KCBS), about 500 across the nation.

Two muscles

There are two distinct muscles in a brisket that comes from the meat packer whole: a long, flat, rectangular, lean muscle that sometimes comes to a point that is called the flat (pectoralis profundus), and a narrower, thicker, fattier, oval shaped muscle called the point (pectoralis superficialis). Got it? The flat is pointy and the point is oval. Go figure.

When you buy a whole packer brisket, it usually weighs 8 to 16 pounds and comes vacuum packed in an airtight plastic bag. The meat has a cap of fat on one side that can be up to 1″ thick, and it is trimmed pretty close to fat free on the other side. There is a thick layer of fat that separates the point from the flat. Photos featured here show a whole 12-pound packer brisket as it arrived from the packer.

Below, our cutting board is 20″ x 14″. The fat cap is 1/4″ to 1/2″ thick, and the flat is labeled A while the point rests on top of the right side of the flat in the oval marked B. As you can see, the packer trimmed it quickly and left some meat bare. Not the end of the world.

Your butcher probably offers three cuts of brisket, a whole packer brisket, a flat (sometimes called “first cut”), and a point (sometimes called “second cut” or the “deckle”). Larger briskets usually come from older steers and tend to be tougher. Most packages will show the “Packing Date.” After a steer is slaughtered, it is broken down and packed, usually within 24 hours, although if it was slaughtered late on Friday, it might not be packed til Monday.

The best briskets are wet aged 28 to 45 days in the vacuum bag. Enzymes within muscles tenderize meat as it ages, so competitors often wet age their meat in the vacuum bag in the fridge in their basement. Click here for more about aging beef.

Cooking a Hunk O’ Flat (HOF) or Hunk O’ Point (HOP)

A whole packer brisket is a lot of meat! Many grocers cut up the whole brisket into smaller more manageable sizes. I often see cuts from the flat or point running anywhere from three to six pounds. I call them a HOF, for Hunk O’ Flat, or HOP for Hunk ‘O Point. These HOFs seem to be more common than HOPs. If the meat case has both, chose the HOP. It has more marbling in the muscle and will be more tender, flavorful, and juicy. Now if you see only flats, ask the butcher if you can order points. HOFs are usually tough and it is hard to make them tender. But don’t ask your butcher for a HOF: that’s just a term you and I use.

My grocer usually has a number of HOFs in the three to four pound range, perfect for serving a small family. If you are cooking a three to four pound HOF, there is much less waste and shrinkage, so buy 1/2 pound or more for each person.

The HOF is practically pure muscle and has little marbling, the kind of fat that makes meat taste tender and juicy. Most people who buy the HOF are making pot roast by simmering it for hours in liquid. But you want the Texas taste, right? If you must do a HOF, then try really really hard to get Certified Angus, USDA Choice, USDA Prime, or even Wagyu beef. They have better marbling. Choose a thick HOF, and look for marbling and uniform thickness so one edge won’t dry out. If the meat is not on a plastic tray and you can flex it, select one that is floppy. The technique for cooking a small hunk is pretty much the same as cooking a packer.

Left-handed briskets?

Tom Hoefer from Allen, Texas, posted this tall tale about a barbecue contest on the net in 2001. It is reprinted here, slightly edited, with his permission. Fact or fiction? Serious or joke? You decide…

A few years back at the Texas State Finals, several of us arrived on Thursday to get in line for the best sites. Thursday night was devoted to serious drinking.

One of the better cooks, Ole Connie Baker of the team “Li’l Pit Of Heaven” was throwing back quite a few of those Mexican beers with a chunk of lime stuck in the neck. Connie had so many of them limeade beers that he was starting to smile with a pucker.

Someone asked him how come his brisket was so tender and always placed in the top three. I thought to myself, boy oh boy, if loose lips sink ships then Ole Connie is going down tonight. All got quiet as he stuffed another lime in a longneck and he said that he “only cooks left-handed briskets”.

He explained that most, but not all, steers rest on their left side, which means when they get up they have to push harder with their right legs. At this point about half the bunch mumbled something to the effect of “bull hockey” and went back to different conversations.

A few of us noticed that Ole Connie wasn’t smirking. Two or three of us moved closer and I said to him, “You can’t stop there. What does pushing up with their right legs have to do with the left brisket?”

Ole Connie stuffed another lime and told us that when they push up with the right legs, it flexes the right brisket muscle more than the left. Therefore the right-handed brisket will be tougher and less marbled than the left. Not always but usually. I asked him, “How the heck do you tell a left-handed brisket from the right?”

He stuffed another lime and told me that, with the fat side down, on a left-handed brisket, with the narrow part closest to you, the point will curve to the right.

Saturday awards time rolled around and Connie took First Brisket and Grand Champion over 180 of the best cooks in Texas. I think that I came in 19th with my right-handed brisket.

This is a concept that I just could not get this off my mind. Then I phoned the kin folk in LaGrange, Texas, and asked if they would check out their herd. Yep, you guessed it. Only three out of 37 consistently rested on their right side. Dangnation, Ole Connie has got it going big time!

I went to five different grocery stores and flexed briskets to see which sides were more limber and more marbled. There are some right-handed briskets that are more limber and marbled than the lefties, but for the most part, the majority of the best are left handed!

Welp, there it is folks. Take it or leave it. As Joe Friday on the 1950s TV show, Dragnet, used to say, “Only the facts, ma’am.”

Most smoke brisket recipes include a dose of controversy

As with anything barbecue, there is controversy surrounding brisket. Pitmasters disagree on several major scores:

Meat grade?

Beef is graded based on the age of the animal and the amount of fat marbling. Click here for more about beef grades. The more marbling the better because fat makes the meat taste more tender, flavorful, and juicy. USDA Select, USDA Choice, USDA Prime, and Wagyu are the most common grades, from lowest to highest. Choice or Prime are my favorite grades.

Wagyu is well marbled and will be more juicy, so if you can find it, and afford it, go for it. Most of the top competition teams are now using prime or Wagyu. But it is very expensive. And grade alone will not guarantee that the meat will be tender. Brisket is just an ornery piece of meat, and if you want it tender, you’ve got to work. Tasty is easy. Tender is not .

Trim?

Let’s get this straight: the thick fat cap does not penetrate the meat when it melts. I discuss this myth here. Some cooks like to leave the entire fat cap on the meat as insulation, trimming what remains before serving. This helps moderate the heat during cooking. Others trim most of it off before cooking, leaving a layer of 1/8″ to 1/4″, reasoning that if you leave the fat cap on, spices and seasoning will never penetrate to the meat, and then the seasoning is wasted when you trim off the fat at the table.

Some cooks also remove much of the fat layer between the two muscles, the flat and point. I trim the cap to 1/4″ or less. A little fat helps retain some moisture in the meat, after the fat shrinks to about 1/8″ during cooking, most people will not trim it off, so the seasoning remains. Also, while slicing, some of the melted fat will run down across the meat, making it shiny and juicy.

Rub?

Before it is cooked, many of the best Texas barbecue joints simply use “Dalmatian rub” for their authentic Texas brisket recipe: liberal amounts of Morton’s coarse kosher salt and coarsely cracked black pepper. For them, stylin’ is to add some cayenne and garlic powder to the rub. Some leave the rub on the meat overnight in the fridge, but others just season the meat and toss it on the pit. Leaving salt on the meat overnight is a good technique because the salt will start to penetrate. The other spices won’t, but you want that NaCl flavor amplifier down in the meat where it can also help the proteins retain moisture, the basic result of brining.

On the competition circuit, many cooks use a complex secret concoction of herbs and spices that give a little spark to the bark, the flavorful crust that forms after all that cooking. For this smoked brisket recipe, I salt it the night before with 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt per pound of meat, thicker on the point than the flat. Nxt I apply my Big Bad Beef Rub while the smoker is heating up, about an hour before cooking. This approach is discussed in my article on the Science of Rubs.

Slather?

You can put a rub right on bare meat, or you can help it stick by moistening the meat with a little water, or you can put down a slather of mustard or ketchup, or you can use cooking oil. Our SVP, Clint Cantwell, uses mayonnaise because, as he says “mayo is fat, and fat is flavor!”

Don’t get too bogged down in this detail. My experience is that slathers make little or no difference in the final outcome so I tend to skip it with my smoked brisket recipe. Mustard is water, vinegar, and maybe white wine with mustard powder mixed in. The amount of mustard powder is so small that by the time the water steams off and drips away, the mustard powder remaining is miniscule. If you want a mustard flavor, you will do much better by simply sprinkling mustard powder on the meat. I usually use water because spice rubs dissolve better in water than oil. Far more important than what’s under the rub is what is in the rub itself. So use whatever liquid or fat you want for a slather .

Pump?

Countless competition cooks like to inject brisket with an internal marinade by using large hypodermics and other gimcracks. These “pumps” add moisture, break down tough fibers, and add flavor. Many of the champs have been injecting the meat with a product called Fab B Light or Butcher BBQ Brisket Marinade, both of which are moisturizers, tenderizers, and flavor enhancers.

Fab B contains hydrolyzed soy protein, vegetable oil, sodium phosphates, monosodium glutamate, autolyzed yeast extract, xanthan gum, disodium inosinate, and guanylate. Butcher BBQ products contain hydrolyzed vegetable protein (hydrolyzed soy and corn protein and salt, with partially hydrogenated vegetable oil [cottonseed, soybean] added), monosodium glutamate, sodium phosphate, and xanthan gum.

Some traditionalists think this is way too Barry Bonds and are repulsed by the idea. The results speak for themselves. They are winning. A lot. If you choose to inject and don’t want all the chemicals, don’t use anything that tastes very different from beef. Just use plain beef broth. In most recipes, I specify low sodium broth, but actually the saltier version is better in this case. This is like brining, and the salt helps retain moisture as well as enhance flavor. Insert the needle parallel to the grain so it doesn’t leave tracks in the finished meat. If you inject salt, however, do not dry brine.

Fat cap up or down, on or off?

This argument is as old as Texas. I asked my beef consultant, Dr. Antonio Mata, a meat scientist and a former Consulting Technical Coordinator to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, if fat will melt and penetrate the muscle fibers. His reply was simple and unequivocal. “No way.” I asked him to elaborate. “The fibers are packed too close for large fat molecules to squeeze in. Since about 75% of the muscle is made of water, and oil and water don’t mix, it is just going to melt and run off.” Click here for more on the subject of fat caps.

This melting of fat is called rendering. We know that rendered fat can run over bare muscle, basting it, but very little will go to the underside of the meat. Most of it will just run down the sides and drip off. So the only basting occurs on the sides. We know that:

  • All the fat does not render during cooking
  • Rub applied to a thick fat cap will not contact the meat because the fat is a barrier. If the fat cap is very thin, some spices might get through
  • Warm fat with spice rub is yummy
  • Fat can inhibit moisture loss from evaporation, and since the stall is caused by evaporation, a fat cap can slow the onset of the stall and help you speed through it
  • Bark will not form on fat because bark is mostly dried surface meat
  • When cooking with heat directly below, as with a Weber Smokey Mountain or a kamado, the fat can absorb heat and protect meat from drying out
  • Diet conscious diners will trim off thick layers of fat if the meat is served on a plate and not on a sandwich. That means the flavorful rub will be removed
  • When cooking two meats, one above the other, the fat can drip down and baste the meat below
  • Beans that sit below melting fat are magical and
  • That a small fat cap will run down over the meat as it is cut, adding flavor.

So what’s the right thing to do? In this smoked brisket recipe I say trim most of the fat but leave a thin layer, less than 1/4″, so that diners will not remove it and the rub. I put the fat between the heat and the meat, often with beans underneath. Sometimes I even flip the meat midway through the cook just so nobody can win the argument.

Separate the two muscles?

There is a lot of sense in separating the two muscles. When they are together a packer is tear-drop shaped and so the thin end cooks faster than the thick end and tends to dry out. If you separate the two muscles they are more uniform in thickness.

Some cooks remove the point layer by working a knife through the fat layer that runs between the flat and point. They cook both muscles side by side rather than one on top of the other. Since the flat is a pretty evenly thick, it cooks more evenly with only a little bit on the ends overcooking. The overcooked parts can be chopped and mixed with sauce for chopped brisket sandwiches, fajitas, mixed with beans, etc. By cooking the flat separately, you get beautiful symmetrical sandwich slices with a smoke ring all around them.

The point end is usually a bit thinner, but more marbled. Depending on thickness you might want to put it on an hour or two after the flat.

Separating the muscles also doubles the surface area and creates more bark. It speeds up cooking, knocking off about 1/3 of the time for cooking a whole packer. If you separate the muscles and remove most of the fat from on a 13 pound packer, you can expect about 5 pounds of flat, 4 pounds of point, and 4 pounds of trim.

Cooking temp?

Many competitors swear that low and slow, around 225°F for 18 to 20 hours for a whole packer, is necessary to make the meat tender and juicy. Legendary “Barbecue King” Walter Jetton, Lyndon Johnson’s caterer, advocated cooking brisket at 275°F and up. John Fullilove of Smitty’s Market confesses that he cranks the heat over 300°F and knocks out his briskets in as little as 8 hours.

I have seen competitors take home big prize checks with brisket cooked at 350°F. The bottom line is that cooking temp seems to be less important than other factors. But because it is difficult to make brisket tender, I advocate for low and slow until you have mastered the techniques and are certain that your meat source and methods are superior. I cook at 225°F for this smoked brisket recipe.

Mop?

A lot of cooks like to keep their meat wet by mopping it with a baste. They say the mop replaces moisture that evaporates. Others say mops cool the meat and slow the cooking. The AmazingRibs.com science advisor, Prof. Greg Blonder has proven that wet meat holds more smoke, so mopping or spritzing with water, beef broth, or apple juice will yield a smokier brisket. It also cools the meat and slows cooking, which allows more time for connective tissues to melt. Mopping with flavored liquids has no significant impact on taste. There just aren’t enough taste molecules in apple juice or beer to change the taste of brisket. Not like a sprinkle of a spice. Click here to read my article on basting.

Crutch?

The Texas Crutch is a technique for speeding the cooking and moisturizing the meat. The concept is that you smoke for a few hours, and when the meat hits about 150°F, wrap it tightly in heavy-duty foil or untreated butcher paper (never plastic wrap) and let it braise and steam in its own juices in the crutch in the cooker. Some folks wrap at 150°F, others at whatever temp the meat is at when the stall kicks in, others when the color looks right to them.

If you don’t wrap, when the meat hits about 150°F, moisture rises to the surface and cools the meat by evaporation, like sweat on an athlete. The meat then sits there stuck at an internal temp of 150 to 160°F for up to 5 hours. This stall is a maddening point in the process when it seems like something is wrong. Its temperature just doesn’t rise for hours at a time. This is freaky and a lot of novices panic when it happens. Many people think the stall is caused by melting fat or collagen. It is not. The stall is caused by evaporative cooling. Click here to learn more about the stall.

The negatives of the crutch

The down side of wrapping is that the foil softens the crusty bark. You can overcome that by placing the meat over high heat for about 10 minutes per side just before slicing. I think wrapping in foil and holding in a faux cambro is essential for tender, juicy brisket. Brisket is the only meat I crutch. In competitions, virtually all the teams crutch their brisket as well as pork shoulder and ribs. I think the impact of wrapping is major on brisket, minor on the other meats. But you do not absolutely need to crutch. If you don’t, you’ll end up with a firmer crust, but you risk slightly drier and tougher meat.

Purists say wrapping is not traditional. Spare me. Cooking with charcoal in a steel tube is not traditional either. You want tradition? Go dig a pit in the dirt.

The next controversy over the crutch is whether you should wrap in butcher paper or foil. Brisket master Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue in Austin uses untreated pink butcher paper like this. Click here to order some from Amazon if you want to try it.

My experience is that without wrapping you get the best bark, most smoke, and most intense flavors. Wrapping in foil makes moister meat with a hint of pot roast and a soft bark, but it can cut 2 hours off the cooking time. Wrapping in paper cuts about 1 hour off cooking time, lets some moisture escape but traps most of the rendered fat, and tastes very much like the foil wrapped version. Bottom line, the differences are very subtle. And fears of destroying the bark are overblown. If you have a good bark when you wrap, most of it will survive.

When is it done?

Steaks from along the back of the animal are done at 130 to 135°F, at which point they are the most tender and juicy. But that muscle is more tender and juicy because it doesn’t get much of a workout on the animal. The brisket, the pectorals, get a lot more work and have a lot more tough connective tissue that needs to be softened, so you just can’t take briskets off the heat at the same temp as steaks. For more on this dichotomy, read my article on meat science.

Old time pitmasters say brisket is done when it is done. These folks say you really can’t tell by temperature. Each brisket is different. They can tell when it is ready by feel. Some talk about a gelatinous bounce it has when they poke it because the connective tissues have melted. This is referred to as the “wabba wabba” point. Others stick a fork in the side of the flat and twist. If it turns easily, it is ready. Yes, that’s where the expression “stick a fork in it” came from. “Fast Eddy” Maurin says he waits until it is “as soft as buttah.”

The rest of us have to rely on temperature, and despite their bravado, the top pitmasters on the competition circuit all use digital thermometers to help them. A lot will depend on the quality of the meat, how moist the air is in the cooker, if you injected, and how long you crutched. I’ve heard skilled cooks tell me every number from 195 to 205°F. A lot of top competitors swear by 203°F, and I have noticed that something magical does seem to happen at around this number. At this temp, the thermometer probe glides in effortlessly, like buttah (once it gets through the bark). If, despite your efforts, your brisket never gets tender, pull it off before it goes above 205°F because it will only continue to dry out.

Holding?

Then it comes off the cooker and it gets wrapped in foil and sits in a faux cambro, an insulated box like a beer cooler, for 1 to 4 hours. Holding helps tenderize by allowing some carryover cooking which helps melt tough connective tissue. The foil also captures natural jus for use in a sauce, and holding the meat allows the surface parts that have dried out during cooking to re-absorb some of the juices. This is not the same as resting a steak or other meats, which I do not recommend. Holding is also a great fudge factor that lets you take the meat off when it is ready and hold it for hours until the guests are ready.

Slicing?

Controversy also reigns over slicing. The target temp used by many pitmasters is about 140°F before they slice. Once it’s ready to slice, brisket is easier to chew if you cut it perpendicular to the grain. If you cut with the grain, it can taste stringy and chewy. You’ve come this far, so make sure you slice brisket correctly!

The problem is that there are two muscles, the flat and the point, and the grains run in different directions on them. Most folks slice from the thicker, point end in about 1/8″ to 1/4″ thick slices. Some folks run a knife through the fat layer between the point and flat, separating them, and then slice each separately.

Meanwhile, other folks cut off the flat where the point meets it, and then they rotate it so the cut is on the side and they slice through the point and flat from the side. That’s the way I like to do it.

Sauce?

To some people, it’s not barbecue unless it has a sweet red sauce on it. Not to Texans. “In Texas, we celebrate great brisket by not messing with it,” says Daniel Vaughn, the barbecue critic for Texas Monthly. “If it’s done right, then you slice it pencil thick and slap it on a piece of butcher paper. It’s naked, quivering and vulnerable, so it has to stand on its own.” In some places, a thin decidedly not-sweet, tomato-y gravy-like jus is tolerated.

Competition brisket.

Competition teams go to extremes to make brisket look pretty and to make the one bite taken by the judges taste extraordinary. Check out the Award Winning Competition Brisket Recipe from American Royal champs Clark Crew BBQ.

Cooking more than one.

I frequently get asked how to handle cooking two briskets (or more) or a shoulder and a brisket, or a shoulder, brisket, ribs, and a muskrat. The answer is here, in my article on Cooking More Than One Large Hunk ‘O Meat.

Sides

Beef brisket achieves its apogee on the blackened pulley pits of Central Texas, so I always serve it Texas style. The smoky slices of meat from this smoked brisket recipe lounge on a thick slab of Texas Toast with only a few spoons of thin, tart, tomato-soup like sauce, none of that thick sweet Kansas City stuff. Brisket needs sugar like steers need wolves click here to Tweet this bit of wisdom.

On the side, I like to honor the Mexican heritage of Texan cuisine with frijoles, simple pinto beans cooked cowboy style with some fatback or bacon, onion, garlic, and a few chopped tomatoes, scented with bay leaves and cumin, and sprinkled with fresh minced jalapeño. Absolutely positively none of those sweet Yankee beans. The wolf law holds for beef sides too.

Then, honoring the European heritage of many of the great Texas barbecue joints surrounding Austin, I want a mound of German Potato Salad, warm and pungent with vinegar and dotted with celery seed.

Next to it I want a scoop of fresh, crunchy sauerkraut from the fridge. None of that soggy canned stuff.

To honor the Czech heritage of the numerous Texas butcher shops turned barbecue joints, I chase the whole thing with a tallboy, a simple uncomplicated Pilsner style Texas brew, straight from the bottle.

Dessert has to be crunchy, gooey pecan pie with black coffee. Pecans are a major cash crop of the Lone Star State, and my favorite pie bar none.

Cook today, serve tomorrow

I often get asked what’s the best way to cook brisket Saturday and serve it on Sunday. My answer is “don’t do it”. That’s called serving leftovers.

These meats are best fresh off the smoker. If you have to serve it at noon on Sunday, then start cooking before you go to bed.

If you don’t want to cook this smoked brisket recipe overnight then consider serving something that doesn’t take so long, like smoked turkey or baby back ribs.

Now if you absolutely positively must cook it Saturday to serve Sunday, there is a technique I describe in this article.

What to do with brisket leftovers

If you do have leftovers from this Texas style smoked brisket recipe that you will not be able to scarf down in a few days, mix the leftovers with a bit of barbecue sauce or the jus from the Texas Crutch (if it is not too salty), and freeze everything in zipper bags or vacuum bags. The sauce helps prevents freezer burn. Pop a bag in the microwave and you’ve got a great emergency meal for two.

Leftovers from my smoked brisket recipe are best reheated in the microwave a small amount at a time. But it will be a bit drier and tougher than the first day, so bring it back to life with a splash of water, apple juice, Texas Crutch jus, or barbecue sauce. The best method is in the microwave, second best is to heat it slowly in a pot with the lid on.

Here are some other ideas for leftover brisket:

  • Cottage Pie (like Shepherd’s Pie but with beef instead of lamb). Probably the best thing I’ve ever done with leftover meat from my smoked brisket recipe is a variation on Cottage Pie. This classic Irish peasant casserole was a hearty meal for farmers, often served midday. There are hundreds of variations on the theme, but it is essentially meat and potatoes in two layers. Here’s the core concept: Brown veggies and cubes of beef in a deep pan or casserole. Whup up some mashed potatoes, and pile them on top. Put them in the oven and bake. So here’s what I did: On Sunday I did brisket and garlic mashed spuds. I browned carrots, celery, onion, and frozen peas, and then tossed in cubes of leftover brisket, some of the jus that was in the foil when I did my Texas Crutch (not too much, it’s strong stuff), and some beef stock leftover from the last time I did a Prime Rib (any beef broth will do). I topped them with about 2″ of leftover garlic mashed, painted the top with butter, sprinkled on some parmesan cheese and bread crumbs, and baked the whole shootin’ match in the oven until the top was brown. OMG. Substitute BBQ lamb and you’ve got Shepherd’s Pie.
  • Brisket enchiladas. Slow’s Bar-B-Q in Detroit is famous for their brisket enchiladas. Folks make the enchiladas by sautéing onions, tossing in some sliced brisket and a splash of hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and their house secret sauce. They then dump it on a tortilla, top it with grated smoked gouda cheese, roll it up, grate some American cheese on top, and give it a squirt of hot sauce for good measure.
  • Stir fry. Believe it or not, leftover brisket is great in a Chinese stir-fry with onions, carrots, broccoli, and a soy/sesame oil/hoisin sauce with a splash of hot sauce on a bed of rice.
  • Hash. John R. Crowley from Denver (a member of our Pitmaster Club, where many brilliant BBQ ideas are shared) says he likes to chop up leftovers, mix them in beans, or fry them up in some hash.
  • On scrambled eggs or salads. Bill Martin likes his leftovers chopped up in scrambled eggs and on top of a salad.
  • Sandwiches. Seve Page says “To me there is not much better than a long slice of brisket with mozzarella (or provolone) on a steak roll bun. I microwave gently with some crutch sauce, place on the bottom half of the bun with two thick slices of cheese end-to-end on top and pop into a small toaster oven in the broil mode to melt the cheese and toast the bun (so it doesn’t get soggy). I then drizzle the crutch sauce on the top toasted bun and slap ’em together.”
  • Italian beef sandwiches. Lucy Baker says “Make Italian beef-style sandwiches with very cooked (limp) green and red bell peppers, onion, and a little Italian seasoning. Reheat the beef in broth and spoon over crusty bread before adding the beef and peppers. Yikes!”
  • Quesadillas. Merrill Powers in Elmhurst, Illinois, makes quesadillas with his leftovers.
  • Chili. Dave Frary makes chili with his leftovers.
  • Burritos. Danny Gaulden makes burritos.
  • I don’t know what to call this but I want to eat it. Rodney Leist from Elfrida, Arizona, kills several different leftovers in one dish. He puts one of those single serving bags of corn chips in a bowl, adds a big scoop of leftover chopped brisket, a similar amount of leftover smoked sausage, and a similar amount of beans. On goes some leftover sauce, chopped onions, chopped jalapeños, and grated cheese. The whole thing gets heated in the microwave. Sort of like a walking taco but in a bowl!
  • Trade bait. Buzz Dean in Wisconsin says he takes his leftovers to the pub and trades them for beer!

At a glance: Secrets of success with this smoked beef brisket recipe

1) How do I pick the right brisket? Do not just pick up whatever your butcher has on display. Get USDA Choice grade meat or higher. If you have to special order it, then order it. If you start with USDA Select or below, you will have a hard time elevating it beyond shoe leather.

2) How do I know when brisket is done? Use a good digital thermometer to monitor your cooker and another to monitor the meat. Your smoker’s dial thermometer is wrong. Don’t trust it. The Maverick remote is perfect for this job. Step into the digital age. As a general rule of thumb, aim for a finished temperature of between 195°F and 205°F, though seasoned professional go by feel versus temperature as each brisket cooks differently.

3) What size brisket should I buy? Use a whole packer if you can. Small pieces, like a four pound hunk o’ flat (HOF) or hunk o’ point (HOP) lose a lot of moisture, shrink a lot, and get tough.

4) Should I separate the two muscles of a packer? This topic in a Texas bar will usually end in gunplay. Lately, I have been doing it and I like the results.

5) Should I inject a brisket? Injecting with beef broth, brine, or specially formulated injection helps combat dehydration, and the salt enhances flavor.

6) Why has the temperature of my brisket stopped rising, and why should I wrap the brisket? Wrap the meat in foil or butcher paper when it hits 150°F internal temp. The method tenderizes and moisturizes, but most importantly it powers through the stall, a long delay during which the meat temp stops rising. The stall can last for up to 5 hours. Many people think the stall is caused by melting fat or collagen. It is not. This is caused by the meat sweating and cooling from evaporation. Wrapping the meat powers through the stall and delivers moister meat. Click here to learn more about the stall.

7) Can I cook brisket in the oven? True BBQ brisket is smoked low and slow on a smoker or grill, so skip the oven if you can and opt for this authentic smoked brisket recipe. Finishing indoors after it has absorbed plenty of smoky flavor is cheating, but nobody will arrest you. If you’re having trouble controlling the temperature of your outdoor cooker, and most charcoal cookers are hard to control for long sessions, cook outdoors until the meat hits 150°F, wrap it in foil, and then move it indoors. It still may stall for an hour or 2 at about 170°F. Wait it out.

8) How do I keep brisket warm after cooking? When the meat in this smoked brisket recipe hits an internal temperature of 200 or 205°F in the flat, hold the wrapped brisket in a 170°F oven or wrap it with towels or a blanket and let it rest in a beer cooler for 2 to 3 hours. The internal temp slowly drops. This helps tenderize the meat but also gives you leeway before serving if the cooking takes longer than anticipated.

9) When should I start cooking a brisket? When it comes to this smoked brisket recipe, start earlier than you think you should. If the meat is ready before the guests, fine. It will be stay moist and juicy wrapped in foil in a beer cooler or a holding oven. Better the meat should wait than the guests. Exact timing is impossible to predict.

10) How long does this smoked brisket recipe take? The most important determinants of total cooking time for a smoked brisket recipe are how thick the meat is and what temp your cooker is averaging. But humidity, ambient air temp, wind, rain, and grade of meat can all play a role. Click here for more about what determines cooking time. There is no precise formula. That said, plan on 12 to 18 hours for a whole packer brisket if you wrap it in foil at 150°F, plus two hours holding time. If you don’t wrap in foil, 16 to 20 hours plus two hours rest is a good estimate. For flats, 10 to 12 hours with foil, 12 to 14 hours without foil.

“I adapted your brisket rub recipe this summer and my customers love it (8,000 pounds served in the past 6 months)! My brisket even won ‘best beef’ in the Sonoma County Harvest Fair this year (2010).” Larry Vito of BBQ Smokehouse in Sebastapol, CA Free Barbecue News magazine every month to members of our Pitmaster Club. Click here for a free 30 day trial. No credit card needed. No spam. Click here to Be Amazing!


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