06 July 2009

Recipe: Lean and Mean Texas Barbecued Brisket

Cover of "How to Grill: The Complete Illu...Cover via Amazon

From Denny: Texas is right next door to Louisiana and the culture could not be more different! Both states borrow from each other when it comes to good food and Texas barbecue and the love of a good brisket is no exception. They love our seafood and Cajun seasonings; we love their barbecue! Brisket is very popular here during football season as most of the country knows that LSU fans are, well, a bit rabid about their fervor for the team! :)

Try this wonderful recipe one weekend when you have a little time, are expecting to feed a larger number of people than usual but would like to do it on a budget - brisket is perfect for that. One reason I like brisket is that it is much lower in fat than most meats. True, because of the lower fat content you must cook it far longer to make it tender. The resulting taste is sure worth it.

There are arguments all over the country as to dry rub (like in Kansas) vs. wet for barbecue, grilling vs. smoking, direct heat vs. indirect heat and gas vs. charcoal. Did you know that the first commercial barbecue sauce showed up in St. Louis in 1926? It was called Maull's Barbecue Sauce. By the 1970's the sauce went beyond it's local word of mouth and gained national recognition.

But do you know what most barbecue sauces contain? Some of the ingredients will surprise you! Of course, the majority are tomato-based. Then they start adding a variety of spices and other goodies: honey, molasses, mustard, brown sugar, hot sauce like Tobasco, ginger, soybean oil and yes, anchovies. Bet you didn't expect the anchovies! When used in small amounts they add a lot to many foods.

Lean and Mean Texas Barbecued Brisket

From:How to Grill: The Complete Illustrated Book of Barbecue Techniques (Paperback)” by Steven Raichlen. For book, go here.

Serves: 10 - 12


6 cups wood chips or chunks (preferably hickory or oak)
Cold water or beer

For the brisket and rub:

1 trimmed brisket (5 to 6 lbs.) with a layer of fat at least 1/2-inch thick

3 Tablespoon chili powder

1 Tablespoon coarse salt

2 teaspoons black pepper

1-1/2 teaspoons brown sugar

1-1/2 teaspoons garlic salt

1-1/2 teaspoons onion powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

For the vinegar-beer mop sauce:

1 cup distilled white vinegar

1 cup beer

1 Tablespoon garlic salt

1 Tablespoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon red hot pepper flakes

1 teaspoon black pepper


1. Soak wood chips or chunks in cold water or beer for 1 hour. Drain and discard liquid.

2. Rinse the brisket under cold running water and blot dry with paper towels. Combine all the ingredients for the rub in a small bowl and stir to mix. Rub this mixture onto the brisket on all sides. If you have time, let the brisket stand in the refrigerator, covered, for 4 to 6 hours, but you certainly can cook it right away.

3. Combine all ingredients for the mop sauce in a nonreactive bowl and stir until the salt and brown sugar are dissolved.

4. Set up grill for indirect grilling and preheat to low. If using a gas grill, put all wood chips in the smoker box or in a smoker pouch and preheat on high until you see smoke, then reduce the heat to low.

5. When ready to cook, if using a charcoal grill, toss 1 cup of wood chips on the coals.

6. Place the brisket, fat-side up, in an aluminum foil pan and place in the center of the hot grate, away from the heat. Cover the grill. Grill the brisket until tender, about 6 hours (the cooking time will depend on the size of the brisket and the heat of the grill). (See note.)

7. Baste or mop the brisket with the mop sauce once an hour for the first 4 hours. If using a charcoal grill, you’ll need to add 12 fresh coals and 1/2 cup wood chips per side every hour. To test for doneness, use an instant-read thermometer. The internal temperature should be about 190 degrees.

8. Transfer the brisket to a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes. Thinly slice across the grain, using an electric knife or sharp carving knife. Transfer sliced meat to plates or platter and pour the pan juices on top.

Note: If the brisket starts to dry out before the meat is fully cooked and tender, wrap it in aluminum foil to finish cooking.

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