I’ve found my new method of cooking brisket and its “Old School”!! If you’ve listened to bbqers talk brisket, or read any bbq forums, you’ve probably found out there are a ton of ways to tackle this troublesome hunk of cow. Low and slow or turbo? Wrap during the cook or leave alone? If you wrap, aluminum foil or butcher paper? Inject? Marinate? What kind of rub? What type of wood for smoke? Sauce or no sauce? (Personally, I prefer not to have sauce on my brisket, maybe some on the side. Make sure to check out the sauce recipe at the end of the post if you must have sauce). So many ways to approach it, it could make your head spin. What’s a fella’ to do?
My Doc recently told me that if I was to eat beef, it should be 100% grass fed. Seems that most beef is fattened up the last few weeks of their life on corn. Basically, they are turned into diabetic cows. It does something to the meat, something to do with changing the amino acids. Or something. I can’t quite remember. What I did get out of it is that it’s not good to feed diabetic meat to a diabetic…or anybody for that matter, but I’ll let you decide what’s right for you. So following the Doc’s orders, last weekend we went down to the Dallas Farmer’s Market in order to procure ourselves a 100% grass fed brisket from North Star Ranch. We’ve cooked a brisket from them, but it was years ago. Their briskets tend to run on the small size. This one was 5.46lbs. And yes it was a full packer. I know most full packers run in the 12-14lb range, some going down to 10lbs others going up as high as 18lbs. I believe it has something to do with being grass fed and that they slaughter them younger and smaller. Whatever the reason maybe, they are excellent briskets and 5.46lbs is more reasonable for two people anyway.
I “borrowed” one of my wife’s Diet Cokes to give you a size comparison of this brisket.
I’ve cooked brisket many a ways in the past. I was thinking about how I wanted to tackle this particular one and it came to me. Why not go back to the basics? Why not go old school? Nothing fancy, no special rubs, no mustard slather, no wrapping it during the cook. No, this was going to be plain Jane, good ole fashioned brisket. Nothing but a 50/50 mix of kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper. The inspiration came from watching some videos of Aaron Franklin online last week. If you haven’t heard of Aaron Franklin, he’s a relatively new up and comer in the bbq world and the briskets he has been putting out at Franklin’s in Austin have been touted as the best in the world. Don’t believe me? Go check it out. Watching his videos, I learned that all he puts on his briskets is salt and pepper. If that is good enough for him and good enough to be called the best, well then is certainly is worth me giving it a shot.
Look at that smoke pouring out of the Egg. Think its time I replace the gasket on it? Part of that is due to the fact that I was using a pit controller and the fan was whirring away trying to bring the Egg up to temperature. Still…that’s more than a little leak. By the way, for smoke we used a combination of mesquite wood chips and pecan and hickory chunks. I wanted to use strictly mesquite but come the morning of the cook I realized I had no mesquite chunks and chips by themselves just wouldn’t cut it.
I took this picture for me. Sort of a reference of which way the grain was running. Sometimes it can be hard to tell after the cook and the bark has formed. When slicing a brisket, you want to cut it against the grain. On this particular one, you can tell the grain is running from the bottom left corner to the top right corner (///). So when you slice it, you would want to slice it like this: \\\. At least on the flat, the grain usually changes direction when you come to the point.
Continuing on with the “Old School” theme, for this cook I went with 250F at grate level for my temperature. I wasn’t real sure how long it would take. Generally, the rule of thumb is between an hour and an hour and a half per pound. I wasn’t real sure if that applied to grass feed beef as well, but we didn’t have any plans for the day. Bbq, and especially brisket, is ready when its ready. You can’t rush it. It would either be done in 5.46 hours, or it would be done in 8.19. The nice thing about the BGE is that it really needs no monitoring once it has stabilized. I was able to mow the yard, do some yard work. I even went up to the Richardson Farmer’s Market and the pharmacy while this was cooking. Try doing that with an offset smoker.
This particular brisket went on at 11am. We finally pulled it once it had reached 196F and a toothpick slid in like butter with no resistance at 6:30pm. Seven and half hours later. Not too shabby. An easily managed cook. So first thing you want to do is cut into it, right? Wrong!! Just like a steak, if you cut into it now, all the juice is going to run out leaving you with a dry hunk of meat. You have two options instead. Either loosely tent it with foil for 30 minutes, or go with the “FTC” method. Foil, towels, cooler. What this means is wrap your brisket in heavy duty aluminum foil. Take a small cooler and line the bottom with towels. Make sure they aren’t the good guest towels, or you might find yourself sleeping on the couch. Place the wrapped brisket in the towel lined cooler and then add more towels to fill it up. If you do this method, you can hold your brisket for as little as 30 minutes up to 4 hours and it will still be steaming hot.
Is your mouth watering now?
This is a slice from the flat. It is the leaner portion of the brisket and does not contain as much fat.
This is a slice from the flat. Even after being in a cooler for 30 minutes, it was so hot that I couldn’t hold it and snap a picture without a paper towel. You’ll notice that it is juicier and has a different texture. To me, the point is the best part of a brisket. In fact, if I could get just the point, I don’t think I would ever cook a full packer.
Smoked brisket! In my mind the perfect meal. We served it up with some boracho beans (drunk beans), creamed spinach and the sausage. Heavenly. Even though we did not achieve the desired smoke ring (I’m still scratching my head trying to figure out that one), this brisket came out great. Not under cooked where it would be tough, not over cooked where it would fall apart, but perfectly fork tender. Great smoke flavor and to be quite honest…the plain 50/50% salt and pepper rub was outstanding. A great flavor that did not compete with the taste of the meat, but complimented it perfectly. I don’t think I will ever use another rub on a brisket again, just salt and pepper. As for the sauce, it wasn’t needed at all, but once I got done doctoring it up, it was wonderful. A velvety, buttery feel and taste to it, with a hint of smoke (I added in the liquid that accumulated in the foil while it was wrapped) and just a bit of heat. Try Aaron Franklin’s sauce how he explained it on a YouTube video, but feel free to adapt it to your taste palate.
Aaron Franklin’s BBQ Sauce
- 1/2 lb butter
- 1/2 yellow onion, finely diced
- 1 1/2 cup s ketchup (not high fructose corn syrup)
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 oz light brown sugar
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- a little less than 1 tsp garlic powder
- a little less than 1 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 lemon squeezed
- Melt butter and saute onions until soft and translucent.
- Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
- Serve warm with bbq.
We found his sauce to be on the sweet side, so we added in some drippings from the brisket, Frank’s Hot Sauce, more black pepper, some red pepper flakes, ancho and chipotle powder. Feel free to adjust to suit your tastes. Next time, I think I’ll cut back on the butter as well.