A few weeks ago we had some friends over for a night of cards and dinner. Our dinner guests asked that I smoke some ribs for the occasion and, naturally, I agreed. Since this was a routine smoke I decided to forego the usual post here…Okay, my digital camera ran out of film. Would you believe that the finger I use for the camera work was broken? Fine…I was too lazy to document it and I was working in the woodshop while smoking the ribs and didn’t think about it! I’m so ashamed!
Now that that’s out in the open…My dinner guest (who has asked to remain anonymous) asked what my secret was to the “truly spectacular ribs!” I told him that there was no voodoo or mojo involved, just simple physics of applied heat and time to a well seasoned hunk of deceased mammal flesh, in this case, a pig. The next one was truly flattering; “Can you teach me?”
“Dude, you betcha! Whatcha wanna smoke?”
“A brisket,” he replied so enthusiastically!
A brisket…of all the meats I routinely smoke, brisket is a rare one (don’t believe me…go back through my posts and count the briskets I’ve done!). For whatever reason, the brisket has always been the bane of my existence in the world of smoking! My father-in-law is, in my opinion, the Zen Master of the brisket whereas I am not. I have had some success in the world of brisket but never have I turned out the kind of soft, juicy tender beef like him. That is, of course, until today.
Since I am not one to back down from a challenge, I took my friends suggestion of the brisket and decided that if we were to do this, then we would do it right. For whatever reason, packers are kind of hard to find around these parts and if you do spot them they tend to come at a premium. Whilst walking through the local Wally-World a couple of days ago my wife spotted a grand specimen as she was searching for a chuck roast and scooped it up like a brown pelican after a young Spanish mackerel!
I called the father-in-law and asked him what his mojo was on the tough old hunk of meat and he said (are you ready for this?), “There’s no ‘mojo’ Mac, it’s all about the low and slow method of cooking.” I shoulda seen that coming! “Just trust your instincts and do what you know is right.” Ugh. So, now I’m on my own (along with several searches here), I know what I’m doing, I’ve done this before and it was pretty good but I always thought too much about it all. This time, I trusted in the knowledge I have and the equipment and the beef.
Here is the packer the wife picked out for us, a 13.3 pounds of brisket. Jacob (my son) decided we need a table spoon to provide for some scale of this thing.
There was no way this thing was going to fit inside my Masterbuilt gasser so we had to separate the flat from the point.
My dad always said, "Cut the fat, cut the flavor," so there was no trimming done today. We can always trim the fat before we eat this thing.
Our plan was simple, use a nice garlic injection and outer marinade,
And my usual for beef, Kosher salt and pepper (yeah, we had a little fun while we were at it).
Into a 220º smoker with some hickory at the bottom. The flat is on the bottom and the point is on the top bunk.
At this point I have settled in for anything up to 20 hours of smoking time based on the 1.5 hours/pound but I’m really playing the temp cards. Shooting for 165º to pull for foil and then take them on up to 195º before serving. I know the point is going to be done before the flat so I am prepared. What I didn’t expect was for this whole process to be done so quickly!
Here we are at the six hour mark with the point already sitting at 165º and ready for foil!
Two hours later the flat is at 165º!
The point reached its 195º temp and I pulled it and wrapped it in a couple of towels and set in the cooler on a heating pad set on low. Here it is ready for slicing.
The flat reached 195º after a total time of only 13 hours and it then joined the point in the cooler. Here it is ready to undergo the knife.
The final results were nothing less than spectacular! We bit into one of these pieces (from the flat) and it was perfect! So tender and juicy and easily pulled apart. The flavor was also great with just the salt, pepper and garlic enhancing the natural beef flavor. I am a happy camper!
In the end I have to wonder who the teacher was and who the student was. Sure, I showed the dinner guest how to prep everything and how to ensure the gear was set, but was he the one really learning or was it me? Was I the one teaching or was it the 13.3 pound hunk of beef my wife picked out in the store? Regardless, the final lesson is, follow your instincts and trust in what you know and you will be rewarded.
As for my dinner guest, he and his wife will be heading to the local Bass Pro Shop tomorrow to pick up their new smoker and have invited us over for a smoked rib dinner. I can’t wait!
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