Ramble On

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

"Road Trip" Brisket

With all the posts lately about truck patches, hopyards, vineyards, and Page County Grown produce and beef, I found myself in the mood to work on a craft of my own, so I picked up a brisket from Skyline Premium Meats at the Farmers Market last Saturday.  This would be my second time working with the smoker, I figured on building on the experience of the last one, with one more try after this to perfect my process.

Although I have a wonderful section of seasoned white oak that I broke down over the weekend, I decided to use hickory, since I still have some left over.  The trunk section of that oak was about 16 inches long and two feet in diameter - plenty for a couple of years, given how often I do this.  (A shout out to Bill D. in Tampa, thanks for the oak - and the encouragement!) I still have quite a bit of apple, too, waiting for some pork loin this fall.  Even with those plans, I've got plenty of supply for smoking.

This brisket was a bit larger than the one I tried before - that was one of the lessons from last time, not to be afraid of leftovers.  As before, I marinaded it for 4 hours in beer, then seasoned it with salt, pepper and garlic.  Salt first, as I've learned that it is very important for cooking - more on that some time in the future.

I stoked the smoker with coals and finally got it going well enough to put the brisket on.  After the meat had seared for about 20 minutes, I started with the smoke, adding hickory every half hour or so while the meat basted in indirect heat.  My temperature gauge is at the top of the barrel and read 200 for most of the afternoon, that may be a little higher than you want but my results were still pretty good.

The coals lasted four hours, but a meat thermometer showed that the brisket had only gotten to 120 - so it was cooking slow like I wanted.  But as the coals had gone out the clock was ticking for my drive back to Alexandria, so I had to shut her down - I took the meat off the stove, let it rest, then wrapped it in foil to finish on the gas grill back home.

Last night, I set it up again for an hour on indirect heat.  The brisket heated back up quickly, faster than with the charcoal grill, and was soon at 140 internal, when I decided to take it off.  There were some well done parts, but it was tender and very tasty - in the final photo you can see the red ring from the smoke, the juices, etc.  And even Mary liked it this time.

So I figure there's one more practice round on brisket and I'll have it mastered.  Then I'll move on to pork loin.

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