Mastering barbecue is part art, part science. Serving up a perfectly-smoked and incredibly moist brisket is the undeniable litmus test for any serious bbq cook. Anyone who’s attempted knows that scoring high on this exam takes a few tries. Setting the bar with a masterful display at this year’s backyard bbq season kickoff party is an achievement that’s certainly within grasp. A solid understanding of a few fundamentals, the right equipment & ingredients, and a willingness to experiment are keys to bbq brisket success. Are you ready to make this the year you reach bbq nirvana? Excellent! Read on my friend.
Make your bbq memorable.
Here’s an outdoor entertaining secret that you won’t learn at your local bbq cooking class. Before the brisket hits the carving board, your family and friends are checking out your entire setup. Remember, you’re doing much more than cooking an incredible cut of beef — you’re creating an experience as you might recall from my previous post. Think of your most recent wonderfully memorable group dining experience. Sure the food was fantastic, but the moment wouldn’t have been complete without great company enjoying intriguing sights, sounds, and scents. Successful entertaining engages all the senses. Top restaurants understand this and work to ensure guests are fully immersed in the experience. Do the same and this outdoor entertaining season will be your most memorable ever.
Franklin. That single name says it all to true bbq brisket fans. Austin Texas is home to a little eatery that’s known for many things, but one menu item is their standout: brisket. Does Franklin Barbecue have the right to claim best brisket status? Yes. They wrote the book. Can you claim Franklin status from the comfort of your outdoor habitat? Nope. But why would you want to? Franklin bbq is its own experience. Your backyard is its own experience. Even if Aaron Franklin himself was at the helm of your cherished wood smoker, the Franklin experience it would not be — And that’s a good thing. Your thoughtfully distinct outdoor cooking environment is what will have your guests talking long after that tasty brisket is gone.
Go forth and conquer. Barbecue bliss is yours!
Ok. A little dramatic I know, but now we’re getting into the tools & techniques that make you an outdoor entertaining standout. Can’t wait to hear some of your success stories, so let’s go!
Use the right smoker.
You might think that it’s all about the beef, but a beautiful whole packer (more on this next) sitting in a smoke-filled kettle grill for 12 hours might be OK if you’re really lucky. But we’re talking about brisket bliss here. A consistent, low-temperature, wood-smoked environment is what you’re after. A great pellet grill is your choice here. Traditional smokers are wonderful, but for practical backyard cooking, pellet grills provide far more versatility with outstanding cooking results. The smoke level produced by quality wood pellets is particularly suited for the extended smoke time needed for perfect barbecue brisket. Your pellet smoker keeps the internal temperature consistent (230° F for your whole brisket) by feeding pellets into the flame as needed. Do experiment with smoking wood flavors. Oak is certainly the Texas tradition. Can’t go wrong there. Here’s a secret — go with a quality wood pellet blend like this one, and you’ll have people raving about your brisket for weeks.
Use the whole brisket.
Whether it’s called packer brisket, deckle on, or simply whole brisket in your neck of the woods, this is what you need. The whole brisket — intact. The point (the thicker portion at one end of the cut) is the secret to superior bbq brisket. The fat in that precious point keeps moister where it needs to be and where there’s fat, there’s flavor. Cook your whole brisket for about 1.25 hours per pound. Position the brisket in your smoker as far away from the heat source as possible. Make sure to point the deckle end towards that flame. This will keep the flat deliciously moist.
Salt, pepper, and more.
This is absolutely up to you and it’s where you’ll have some serious fun. Be creative. Salt & pepper are musts (and the only seasoning Franklin Barbecue rubs on their raw brisket), but even those seasonings have variations that deserve experimentation. I’m a fan of mixing up my own spice blends and coating the brisket well. Whether you choose spice blends or individual seasoning ingredients, only the best quality spices should touch your brisket so choose wisely. The wrong seasoning and you might find yourself with unbalanced bitter flavors that just don’t work.
Pink butcher paper.
Use it. Not from the start, however. Go bare the first half of your cooking time. Wrap your brisket in pink butcher paper halfway through cooking. Lots of reasons why this works. Most importantly is that you’re trapping in moisture when it’s needed most. About halfway through cooking, your brisket needs constant basting through the finish. Pink butcher paper traps the perfect amount of moisture, surrounding your brisket with intensely flavored steam.
A virtue indeed. Rest your cooked brisket for about 50 minutes after cooking is complete, and you’ve removed the beauty from your smoker. Your patience will soon be greatly rewarded.