Certain recipes require such time and dedication, they never even occur to me unless I am on vacation. Brisket, which is the king, the cornerstone of Texas BBQ, is one of those dishes. Some BBQ restaurants in Texas are famous for smoking their brisket for up to 18 hours in order to create the tender, irresistible sliced meat for which they are renowned. The following recipe only requires a “mere” 8-10 hours but the results are worth every second. Being a typically tough cut, the fat is a crucial element to the long, slow cooking process, since it will moisten the meat and produce a tender, juicy result. In Italy, you’ll probably have to special-order the cut from your butcher (punta di petto di manzo, disossato), and remind him not to trim the fat.
Smoked Beef Brisket
- 1 backyard BBQ equipped with a lid and adjustable air vents (a Weber will work fine)
- 3 cups wood chips
- 1 beef brisket, 6-7 lbs (about 3 kg), fat intact
- 1 recipe dry-rub (below)
- 1 recipe mop sauce (below)
- BBQ sauce (recipe here)
For 10 servings
Trim the fat on the brisket to about 1 cm thick, and rub all over with a thick layer of dry rub. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to 2 days. This gives the meat a chance to absorb the flavors. Allow the meat to come to room temperature (about 1 hour) before cooking.
Prepare the BBQ for indirect heat: Fill a an aluminum bread pan half full of water and place it on the side of base of the grill farthest away from the air vents.
Ignite about 35 pieces charcoal on the other side of the grill. When about half the charcoal has turned grey, and the other half is still black (about 15 minutes), adjust the air vents so they are only slightly open. You will need to regulate the vents (opening them wider for higher heat, or closing them slightly to lower the temperature) throughout the cooking process to maintain a constant of 275°F/135°C.
Lay the prepared brisket, fat side up, on the grill directly above the pan of water, not over the hot coals. Cover the BBQ immediately and cook for 3 hours, maintaining a constant temperature of 275°F/135°C. After 3 hours, open the BBQ and brush brisket liberally with mop sauce, careful not to wipe away the rub. Brush with mop sauce every hour. After about 6 total hours of cooking time, remove brisket too a tray, brush with mop sauce and wrap tightly in a double layer of aluminum foil. Replace on the grill, fat side up, and continue to cook for another 2-4 hours. The total cook time can vary between 8-10 hours, depending on the size of the brisket. To test for doneness, open the foil and poke the meat with a fork or sharp knife. It is ready when the utensil meets no resistance and slips easily into the meat, or when a meat thermometer registers about 200°F (94°C).
Remove the brisket from the BBQ and slightly open the foil to let some steam escape. Let the meat rest for at least 30 minutes before serving. Trim the fat off the top and slice thinly against the grain. Serve with BBQ sauce, sliced onions, pickles and white bread.
- 3 large tablespoons of salt
- 3 tablespoons brown (or cane) sugar
- 5 tablespoons paprika
- 1 tablespoon chile powder or cayenne pepper
- 2 teaspoons dry mustard powder
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 pinch of cumin
Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Store in an airtight container.
Marinade and Mop Sauce:
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup white vinegar
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 small onion, sliced
- one small bottle of beer
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 lemons, cut in half
Combine all ingredients in a large pot, squeezing the lemons as you add them. Simmer for 30 minutes, or until the onions are soft. Keep the mop sauce warm as you use it.