Barbecued beef brisket

There is never a bad time for barbecue, especially at Thanksgiving. Forget the turkey, make a brisket instead! Sure, your guests might throw a bit of a fuss when they find out the traditional roast bird is off the menu, but don’t worry about it. Once the aroma of tender, smoked beef hits their upturned noses, they’ll think twice about complaining to the cook.

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Top 5 reasons to serve brisket instead of turkey

  1. You like awesome things
  2. You’re a turkey sympathizer
  3. You forgot to buy a turkey
  4. You remembered to buy a turkey but forgot to thaw it
  5. You’re a rebel


To a lot of people, the term “barbecued” is the same thing as “grilled”. While the two words are sometimes interchangeable, true barbecuing (at least as far as North Americans are concerned) involves indirect heat and is essentially low temperature roasting. If you were to grill a brisket directly over an open flame, you would end up with something slightly less appealing than boiled shoe leather. If, on the other hand, you decide to barbecue that same brisket, low and slow and with much loving care, you will be rewarded with some of the juiciest and most flavorful beef you’ve ever experienced.

” Apply more cocktails to your liver while you wait “

Now that we have the silly definitions out of the way, you’ll need something to barbecue your brisket in. There are a number of different options here, some of which work better than others. A purpose-built smoker like a Big Green Egg or drum-style barbecue is ideal. Standard Weber-style charcoal barbecues can be made to work, as can propane grills. Whatever setup you’re using, you will need it to maintain a steady temperature in the low 200 degree range for about ten hours.

Of all places, Smart & Final stocks whole briskets regularly. They're cheap as heck too.

Of all places, Smart & Final stocks whole briskets regularly. They’re cheap as heck too.

The last time I made a brisket – the one pictured here – I followed Chris Lilly’s recipe. His process involves a wet rub followed by a dry rub, and it’s remarkably delicious. Because I don’t want to Chris to sue my eyebrows off, I’m not going to repeat the recipe here. If you want to know what it is, you’ll have to buy a copy of Big Bob Gibson’s BBQ Book and read it for yourself. What I will say is that I like Grill Mates Texas BBQ Rub as well as anything, so if in doubt just go with that.


Ingredients

  • A humongous whole brisket, between 10 and 15 lbs
  • some kind of dry rub


Other stuff you’ll need

  • wood chips for additional smoke flavor (e.g., hickory, apple wood, etc.)
  • aluminum foil
  • a large drip pan or disposable aluminum foil tray
  • a meat thermometer
  • freezer paper
  • cocktails


Get your barbecue/smoker/whatever going at 225 degrees F, set up for indirect heat. Wash off the giant hunk of dinosaur meat with water and pat dry with paper towels. Apply the dry rub liberally to both sides, and then haul it outside to your eagerly awaiting pit of fire. Place the brisket on the barbecue fat side up and away from any direct flames, close the lid, and leave it alone for a while. (This is where the cocktails come in.)

Moo

Moo

Every hour or so, check your barbecue to make sure it’s holding the correct temperature and add a few wood chips to increase the smoke flavor. At around the six hour mark, start checking the internal meat temperature as well. Once the meat hits about 165 degrees F, remove it from the grill and place it in a roasting or drip pan. Pour a cup of water into the pan and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Place the whole thing back in the barbecue for another two-ish hours. Cocktail time.

This step only requires 527 square feet of foil.

This step only requires 527 square feet of foil.

Once the internal temperature of the meat hits 185 degrees F, remove it from the barbecue (but leave it covered!) and allow it to rest at room temperature for an hour. Don’t worry, it will stay very hot on its own for quite a long time. Apply more cocktails to your liver while you wait.

When the hour is up, you’re ready to carve. Clear a large area on your kitchen counter and lay out a few large sheets of freezer paper, plastic side down. Uncover the brisket, carefully remove it from the pan, and be prepared to have every single living creature in your house begin crowding you, begging for samples. Threaten them with your carving knife to help clear some elbow room. Trim away the fat cap, separate the point from the flat, and slice against the grain. If none of that made any sense to you at all, here’s a helpful video that should clear things up.

The big reveal. Save those pan drippings!

The big reveal. Save those pan drippings!

At this point you will probably have noticed that there are quite a lot of drippings sloshing around in the empty pan. Skim the fat off the top (I recommend using a fat separator) and set the fat-less juice aside. This heavenly beef juice can be used as a drizzle on top of servings of sliced brisket, and it also does a great job of preventing any leftover meat from drying out in the fridge or freezer.

Enjoy the meat coma, and happy Thanksgiving!

Gobble gobble? Indeed.

Gobble gobble? Indeed.



tl;dr

Barbecued beef brisket

Ingredients

  • A whole beef brisket, between 10 and 15 lbs
  • some kind of dry rub


Other stuff you’ll need

  • wood chips for additional smoke flavor (e.g., hickory, apple wood, etc.)
  • aluminum foil
  • a large drip pan or disposable aluminum foil tray
  • a meat thermometer
  • freezer paper


Directions

Set up barbecue/smoker for indirect heat, preheat to 225 degrees F. Rinse brisket with cold water, pat dry with paper towels, and apply dry rub liberally. Place brisket on grill fat side up and cook for at least 6 hours, adding wood chips every hour for additional smoke flavor. When internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F, remove brisket from grill and place into roasting pan along with one cup of water. Cover tightly with foil and return brisket to grill. Cook for another 2 hours or until internal temperature reaches 185 degrees F. Remove from grill and allow to rest for 1 to 2 hours, leave covered in foil. Uncover and retain pan drippings. Carve brisket and serve.



See also


How to grill a perfect steak

Ha, fooled you! There’s no such thing as a “perfect steak”. This is because there are a thousand different types of steaks and a thousand different ways to cook each one*, and everybody likes theirs prepared a little differently. This of course means that, when cooking a steak, you are always guaranteed to delight some people while at the same time horribly offending others. The real trick is to only offend people who have no direct way of telling you that you’re an idiot, and if you can delight a few of the people within your immediate vicinity then that’s a bonus.
* Quantities are estimated

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” The real trick is to only offend people who have no direct way of telling you that you’re an idiot “

I am not a steak grilling ace. I’m not bad, but I view myself as approximately average. I know the theory behind steak preparation quite well, but executing that theory skillfully is another matter. My father-in-law, on the other hand, makes the very best steaks I have ever had. His approach involves medium cut ribeyes, generous quantities of onion salt, a hot grill, and experience. I have yet to replicate his results, but I’m working on it.

The technique I prefer to follow is the “steakhouse style” sear-then-bake approach. I like this method not only because it produces nom-worthy steaks, but also because it’s fairly forgiving. Even if you get the searing completely wrong, you can easily adjust the baking portion to end up with something that’s still edible.

Coals ready? Good. Let's grill.

Coals ready? Good. Let’s grill.

Ingredients

  • Steaks (Do I really need to tell you this?)
  • Olive oil
  • Steak seasoning of some kind (Salt and pepper will do just fine.)


Directions

Skillet and oven
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F. On your stovetop, preheat an oven safe skillet to a medium-high heat. If your skillet is cast iron (*cough* hint *cough*) it should smoke a little but not a lot. Rub your steaks with the olive oil and sprinkle your chosen seasonings on them. Put the steaks in the hot skillet and allow them to sizzle magically. The less you move the steaks the better, so don’t slide them around or peek underneath them if you can help it. After a few minutes there should be a nice, browned crust on the bottom of your steaks; flip them over and put the skillet – steaks and all – immediately in the oven. Check the steaks for doneness after a couple of minutes. You can do this either with a meat thermometer or, if you’d like to astonish your friends and family with your cleverness, use the “finger trick“. When the steaks are done to your liking, remove them from the skillet and allow to rest for five-ish minutes before unleashing your inner carnivore on them.

Barbecue/grill
Setup will be vastly different depending on the exact barbecue or grill you plan on using, but the basic idea is that you want a direct heat section for searing and an indirect heat section for roasting. If you have a gas grill, turn on one side to high and leave the other side off. If you’re using a typical charcoal barbecue, make your pile of coals off-center.

As above, rub your steaks with olive oil, season them, and put them on the hot side of your grill to sear. After a minute or two, turn your steaks 45 degrees to give them those signature cross-hatched grill marks that declare to the world you know what you’re doing. Flip the steaks over and repeat the process, a few minutes a side. If you don’t have nifty grill marks after this, your fire isn’t hot enough.

Move your steaks to the indirect heat area of your grill and close the lid. My grill (a Big Green Egg) allows me to change the height of the cooking surface, so at this point I just raise the grill up as high as it will go. Roast your steaks until the desired doneness has been achieved, allow to rest, and chow accordingly.

I made this. Be jealous.

I made this. Be jealous.



tl;dr

How to grill a perfect steak

Ingredients

  • Steaks
  • Olive oil
  • Steak seasoning of some kind (Salt and pepper will do just fine.)


Directions

Skillet and oven
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. On stovetop, preheat an oven safe skillet to a medium-high heat. Rub steaks with olive oil and sprinkle on steak seasoning. Place steaks in skillet. Sear for 2 or 3 minutes or until a crust has formed. Flip steaks over and place skillet in oven. Roast for several minutes, until internal temperature of steaks reaches desired doneness.

Barbecue/grill
Set up grill for high temperature, direct heat, retain part of the grill area for indirect heat. Rub steaks with olive oil and sprinkle with seasoning. Sear steaks on both sides, then move to indirect heat area of grill. Roast for several minutes, until internal temperature of steaks reaches desired doneness.



See also