Good day and welcome to the August edition of the Smoking-Meat.com monthly newsletter. I am your host, Jeff Phillips, and I have lots of great information for you in this issue.
I am so excited about this edition of the Smoking Meat Newsletter… I have been wanting to formally introduce the all new (and Free I might add) 5-Day Smoking Basics eCourse which I will do below. I am also excited about the new Forum which is growing every day and there is already enough information to keep you busy for hours.
I am also going to share my 4 special secrets about smoking the perfect brisket..
On a more negative note.. it has been extremely hot and most people do not feel like smoking when it is 100+ degrees.. here in Oklahoma it has been scorching and with little or no rainfall the ground is parched and the riverbed of the Arkansas river is shallow enough to walk across.
I will be really happy to see some nice fall weather soon where the air around my house will be filled with the smell of turkeys being smoked in apple, plum, and cherry woods.
With the hope of cooler weather just around the bend, let's get on with this month's newsletter.
In case some of you do not know the legend of brisket.. it is believed that brisket was once a throw away piece of meat. Too tough to mess with and not fit to eat until a couple of guys discovered by accident that it would eventually become extremely tender after a long slow cooking process.
Whether you believe that tale or not is up to you but one thing is true.. brisket is extremely tough but is one of the tastiest pieces of meat you can have after a long slow process in the smoker.
With a few of my special secrets you can take ordinary brisket and "kick it up a notch" as Emeril says;-)
I say this a lot and it bears repeating… when you are buying a brisket get the most tender brisket in the supermarket. That will place you way ahead of the game with very little effort. Simply look for a brisket that is under 10 pounds if possible and find the one that has the most flex. Balance the brisket on the side of your hand and see how much it bends.
Now I have been recently made aware that some supermarkets/meat markets are now placing the briskets in a styrofoam type place which would prevent you from checking the flexibility.. if this is the case where you buy meat then I recommend you try to find another place to buy meat or just take your chances with a brisket that is preferably in the 8 pounds and under range.
Once you get the perfect brisket home you will notice the fat cap and you may wonder if you should cut some of it off or if you are like me you will also wonder how the smoke is going to get through that stuff and down into the meat.
Well.. I like to have at least a quarter inch fat cap so I do a little trimming on the thicker parts but nothing major. The fat will render (Melt) during the smoking process and will do a great job of keeping the brisket moist during the long hours in the dry smoky environment.
(1) The first thing I do as far as actual prepping of the brisket is to make a series of cuts through the fat cap and down to the meat. First I do cuts along the width of the brisket every inch or so then I do the same cuts along the length of the brisket and then diagonally until it looks like a crosshatch pattern.
This allow the smoke, the rub, the marinade and whatever else you use to get down to where it can affect the meat in a positive manner without removing the much needed fat cap.
(2) I will then make incisions into the center of the brisket using a sharp knife so that I can insert garlic cloves into the meat. I make "spots" for about 5 or 6 cloves normally.
(3) A very special marinade that I like to use consists of 2 medium onions, a teaspoon of cayenne pepper, 6 garlic cloves and 4 tablespoons of course black pepper. (Feel free to add other spices if you like).
Put all of the above ingredients into the blender and make a paste or puree which you will then rub all over the brisket making sure it gets down into the cuts you made earlier. Place the well-coated brisket in a dutch oven or large zip-loc bag and place in the fridge for 12 to 24 hours prior to smoking. You will NOT rinse this marinade off before smoking.
(4) After the brisket is in the smoker for an hour or two I use a butter mop every 45 minutes which is basically a cup of water, 1 stick of REAL butter, and 2 tablespoons of Cajun seasoning. This would do well with any other spices you happen to like as well.
These are things I have discovered over the years to make a good brisket a lot better. Feel free to experiment with these methods and if you have a better way of doing things then I would like to hear about it.