The week after I smoked the pork butt for the pulled pork sandwich, I was dying to get outside again for a great day of smoking some more meat!. So I went to my other staple favorite..beef brisket!! While pork is the preferred barbecue in parts of the US east of the Mississippi such as Kansas City, the Carolinas and Memphis, beef is the preferred meat of Texas. In fact, brisket is king there! It’s a tough piece of meat that requires long, slow cooking and smoking to bring out its tender and flavorful secrets. This was another all day smoking project for me that I LOVED!!!! I adapted this recipe from the same barbecue guru as I mentioned in the pulled pork post, Steven Raichlen (here). As I’ve learned from his expertise…make sure you buy a brisket with a large sheath of fat, and smoke it in a foil pan which keeps the fat drippings in the meat and allows for great smoke penetration. I rubbed the brisket with a spice mixture the night before and let it sit overnight. In my adaptation I put leftover beer in my foil pan to add to the drippings as the brisket cooked, and added this to my barbecue sauce….OMG!!! So delicious!!! As I said in my pork post, I used my grill with an attached sidebox to smoke this brisket and used applewood, but you can use a regular grill and wood chips just as well. I also made the healthy coleslaw as a side that we posted about earlier (here). Because this is an all day event, make it fun and fulfilling! Make some appetizers and drinks to enjoy while you’re tending the meat, play some lawn bowling and smoke a great cigar! Long days of barbecue and smoking can truly be a party and a fulfilling experience!! Make it the best!!!
- 1 beef brisket (5 to 6 pounds), with a layer of fat at least 1/4 inch thick, preferably 1/2 inch thick
- 1 tablespoon coarse salt (kosher or sea)
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- leftover beer for the smoking pan
1. Rinse the brisket under cold running water and blot it dry with paper towels.
2. Combine the salt, chili powder, sugar, pepper, and cumin in a bowl and toss with your fingers to mix. Rub the spice mixture on the brisket on all sides. If you have time, wrap the brisket in plastic and let it cure, in the refrigerator, for 4 to 8 hours (or even overnight), but don’t worry if you don’t have time for this—it will be plenty flavorful, even if you cook it right away.
3. Set up a charcoal grill for indirect grilling and preheat it to low.
4. When ready to cook, toss 1 1/2 cups of the wood chips on the coals (3/4 cup per side). Place the brisket, fat side up, in an aluminum foil pan (or make a pan with a double sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil). Place the pan in the center of the hot grate, away from the heat. Add beer. Cover the grill.
5. Smoke cook the brisket until tender enough to shred with your fingers; 6 hours will likely do it, but it may take as long as 8 (the cooking time will depend on the size of the brisket and heat of the grill). Baste the brisket from time to time with the fat and juices that accumulate in the pan. You’ll need to add 10 to 12 fresh coals to each side every hour and toss more wood chips on the fresh coals; add about 3/4 cup chips per side every time you replenish the coals during the first 3 hours.
6. Remove the brisket pan from the grill and let rest for 15 minutes. Transfer the brisket to a cutting board and thinly slice it across the grain, using a sharp knife, electric knife, or cleaver. Transfer the sliced meat to a platter, pour the pan juices on top, and serve at once.
I also made the sauces that Steven Raichlen recommended, of course adding my own twist….I think you’ll love it! He suggests mixing half of the basic barbecue sauce and half of the vinegar sauce together as a sauce for the brisket. These are great versatile sauces by themselves that you can use on anything if you have leftovers!!!
Make sure you add any meat drippings to the sauce, and a little bit of beer…it makes all the difference!!
Basic Barbecue Sauce
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 medium-size onion, minced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and minced
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 1/2 cup tomato sauce
- 3 tablespoons cider vinegar, or more to taste
- 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons pineapple juice (optional)
- 1 teaspoon of your favorite hot sauce, or more to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke, or 2 tablespoons meat drippings
- 2 tablespoons molasses
- 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar, or more to taste
- 2 tablespoons prepared mustard of your choice
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup of your favorite beer
1. Heat the oil in a large nonreactive saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and bell pepper and cook until softened but not brown, about 4 minutes.
2. Stir in the ketchup, tomato sauce, cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, pineapple juice (if using), hot sauce, liquid smoke, molasses, brown sugar, prepared and dry mustards, black pepper, and 1 cup of water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and let the sauce simmer, uncovered, until thickened, about 15 minutes, stirring often to prevent scorching. If the sauce becomes too thick, add a little more water. Add beer at the end.
3. Remove the barbecue sauce from the heat and taste for seasoning, adding salt to taste and more cider vinegar, hot sauce, and/or brown sugar as necessary; the sauce should be highly seasoned.
4. Transfer the barbecue sauce to a serving bowl and serve warm or at room temperature. The sauce will keep, tightly covered in the refrigerator, for several weeks.
North Carolina Vinegar Sauce
- 1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 1 tablespoon sugar, or more to taste
- 1 tablespoon hot red pepper flakes
- 1 small onion, thinly sliced
- 1 jalapeño chile, thinly sliced
- 2 teaspoons salt, or more to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Combine all the ingredients in a nonreactive medium-size bowl and whisk until the sugar and salt dissolve. Taste for seasoning, adding more sugar and/or salt as necessary; the sauce should be piquant but not quite sour.
Have a great week!
Beijos e Tchau!
Ludmilla and Marilyn Chudda