Originally Posted by daRicksta
Eric, whenever my wife or I have properly cooked a brisket--either slow cooked in a slow cooker, a Dutch oven, or my smoker, it's always pulled apart. Some people may think that's overcooked but it's the way we like it. Frequently part of the flat will still slice for great brisket sandwiches will other parts will shred.
Well, heck, maybe I should just go for pulled flat and BEs/BFs all the time.
You said never to call you after midnight. That set my brain a-turnin'. Do you remember an old Stones tune called Midnight Rambler? Or the Clapton tune After Midnight? Maybe I can call you the Before Midnight Analytical Thinking Mad Scientist? It suits you! I also like to experiment with each smoke, trying this or that technique. What if I smoke this brisket flat naked while I wrap the other one? What if I cook these racks of St. Louis style ribs on my Weber over charcoal briquettes and wood chips or pellets and at the same time cook these baby backs in my smoker over wood pellets? Given they're different cuts of pork ribs but how different or similar will both sets of racks taste? However, your ideas for experiments go far beyond what I think of. Do you also experiment with your own dry rubs and/or mops or finish sauces? After reading this last post of yours I really wish we were neighbors. Not only to taste your Q but to watch you at work. You so rarely meet creative individuals applying their thinking skills to outdoor cooking. I really love that stuff but there's no one to share it with that I know of in my area.
I wasn't a fan of Stones, but I know the Clapton tune. Before Midnight Analytical Mad Scientist works. I've only made a sauce once...experiment with the ingredients of one our favorite pork dry rubs, but I kinda screwed it up when used tomato for part of the base. It ended up tasting like a really fancy marinara...never had the time to try it again without tomato, but it's still out there. Some of the guys thought it sounded pretty good, but it just didn't get it done for me.
Oh, here's that sauce...had to think about it for a minute: http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/242967/hawg-heaven-sauce-experiment-no-rub-pork-picnic-recipe-review
I do mess with rubs a lot...way more than I realize, I'm sure. I started using dried fruits in rubs about 5 years ago, along with dried red bell peppers. Hawg Heaven Rub was a big hit for a few years, then I came up with a twist...Blueberry/Cherry/RBP Rub...then just recently I combination of the two, minus a few ingredient, plus a few more...that's when Wild Hawg Rub was born. They're all good, but Wild Hawg Rub was developed specifically for what I felt I was missing with ribs. It would be too mild and too smooth for pork shoulder, IMHO, but on ribs we think it's the best we've had so far. Gonna fire up for 3 slabs of BBRs for Saturday dinner and toss Wild Hawg on 'em...I've only made ribs with this rub 2 times at home, once on a road-trip, once again at home, and now it'll be for a local gathering of about a dozen. It's been good to me, for sure...no complaints from anyone...in fact they rave about this rub more than any, so far.
I've never really mess with mops much...a little here and there about 7-8 years ago. Never used finishing sauces much either, but they do have their merits. I like to hand-pull my pork on demand, that way there's peak moisture when served...unadulterated chunks of pork with all their natural moisture...pork, rub, smoke and a wicked hard, heavy bark...it just turns out great every time.
It's a poor smoker who blames his forgetfulness upon the expert wit and humor of others, my friend. But besides that, I'm in your same boat. Only the wife and I in the home so it's brisket for two. I do share some with my favorite bro-in-law. Both our grown kids have flown. My son doesn't like beef brisket anyway (he's no fruit from my loins!) and I think my daughter likes brisket OK but I can never remember. But as I've said I've got that 14 lb. whole packer brisket in the freezer and I'm gonna smoke it up whether or not it's just for the two of us. BTW, my wife didn't eat ONE BE that I made last week. Too bad that left all of them for me...
Yeah, I let one of my boys take my Smoke Vault 24" with him to his job, and I rarely wish for that large of smoker capacity anymore. My arsenal of 3 Weber kettle and the WSM-18 handle everything I need pretty well, and I like cooking with hardwood lump or charcoal far better than messing with a gas valve. Not to mention the better flavors imparted into the food...I can't get that with a gasser, no matter what I do.
With my first attempt at burnt ends I used Jeff Phillips' recipe as a guide. I had cooked only the point (with flat meat under the fat layer) and pulled it at 201° as you've already read. I free formed the cutting of the BE so they were different shapes and thicknesses. On any TV cooking competition show I would've been sent home packing. It seems like it'd be a big hassle to continually turn BEs over on the rack. BFs would be much easier because of their larger size. But with my next stab at BEs, I'm going to follow the road map you laid out. Unlike you I don't measure anything before cutting or slicing. No, I tell a lie. When prepping Chinese food I do my best to follow directions for length, width and thickness of meat and also for the vegies. After grilling and BBQ (smoking) stir frying Asian food in a wok is one of my favorite ways to cook food. Now, don't get me started on Panini presses and pressure cookers. They're both next on that list.
I don't really measure my cuts, either...just eyeball it. I try to keep them uniform, but there's nothing wrong with variances with BEs/BFs, because the variations in thickness will yield different textures and levels of doneness. That can be beneficial in finding that sweet spot when you're still trying to find out how you really like them. I'm an Asian Stir-Fry fan, myself. Then there the camp DOs, the 15" Lodge CI skillet, the 14" x 16" CI griddle. I haven't used my camp DOs for a long time...too long...rust took them over. They're cheapo china junk Camp Chef, but still costed me $40 a piece. I could still use them with a foil liner, I guess.
When you wrap the brisket in foil to rest it, do you stick it inside an insulated cooler or leave it on a cutting board in the kitchen or something? I've become a big cooler fan. The brisket's wrapped in foil but I place it at the bottom of the cooler and then place a couple of thick towels over it. It'll stay hot to warm inside the cooler for hours, just doing its juices redistribution thing. After it's cooled I vacuum seal the leftovers which serves to intensify the smoky and other flavors. I do my best to leave the vacuum sealed packet in the fridge for a couple of weeks before chawing down on the brisket again. Same thing works well for smoked cheese. 3 weeks in a vacuum sealed packet in the fridge. Delightful and smokily delicious flavors result.
It's been so long since I've smoked a whole brisket...since I started playing with the wet-to-dry smoke chamber method I mainly separate and trim lean. Back in the day, yeah, I'd foil the flat, wrap in about 3" of towels and rest for several hours. The point almost never saw foil...open board rest, cut-up and tossed in sauce and back on open grates to finish. By the time the flat was rested the BEs were done. With wet-to-dry you have to time your smoke a little closer due to the resting method if you're preserving the bark (no foiling...unless you want to soften the bark...it does get pretty intense, I'll admit)...doesn't hold at temp for as long, but still quite a while before it's really cooling down.
OK, that's not a typo, is it? 3 weeks in the fridge with smoked and processed brisket? Man, I'd never be brave enough to go more than 5 days, and that's only if it's still an intact whole smoked meat. Although I've never vac-packed smoked meat for the fridge, either. I do need to grab another vac unit...one I have was never worth a hoot...melted a hole in the bag right in the center of the seal, when it was working. I removed the heat strip from that one and use it strictly for sealing dried foods in canning jars.
Oh, speaking of aging smoked foods, have you ever smoked potatoes and aged the leftovers in the fridge for a couple-three days? It's a whole new smoked potato a few days after. Just don't use your wife's favorite tupperware for aging...she'll string you up when she puts a delicate food into for a few days and it comes out smoked. Ziploc bags will suffice for taters.