Preparation: Long Cook (Over 2 hours)
One 8- to 12-pound whole beef brisket, trimmed to fit your cooker.
tip: Whole briskets often come encased in a thick layer of fat. Trim this until you have a layer that’s only about 1⁄4 to 1⁄8 inch thick, depending on how thick a rim of fat you prefer on your sliced brisket.
My Texas barbecue revelation happened in New Mexico. The displaced Texans tending the ranch where I worked blew me away with the most elemental food. It was just brisket cooked for what seemed like forever with post oak and coals. It emerged with that dark, nearly black, bark encasing juicy meat, some of it meltingly tender and unctuous and some with an appealing chew. Each slice was bordered by a pinkish hue—the mark of a steady flame. Over years of meditatively cooking (and eating) brisket, I tweaked Texas tradition until I found this recipe, which I consider the ultimate version—I call it “get a book” brisket, because it’ll have you cooking for a long time. But whether you pass the time by reading, chatting with good friends, or dozing off, I promise you: The wait will be well worth it.
6 tablespoons mild chile powder, preferably Chimayo, Ancho, or Hatch
3 tablespoons prepared yellow mustard
3 tablespoons beef base in paste form, such as Better Than Bouillon
1⁄4 cup garlic salt
3 tablespoons coarsely ground fresh black pepper
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon lemon pepper
2 teaspoons kosher salt 3⁄4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
About 3⁄4 cup canola or vegetable oil
1⁄2 cup Apple Juice Spray
1⁄2 cup honey
1⁄2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter or margarine, melted
1 cup APL BBQ Sauce, or your favorite BBQ sauce
11⁄2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
Fleur de sel
Optional Savory Herb Brush
Rest in Foil
Kiss With Smoke
Wrap With Foil
1. Combine the paste ingredients and spread on all sides of the brisket. Combine all of the seasoning blend ingredients and sprinkle evenly on all sides of the brisket. You may not use all of the blend. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.
2. Preheat an indirect barbecue with a drip pan and hardwood (preferably hickory, oak, or pecan), a ceramic cooker with deflector plate and hardwood (preferably hickory, oak, or pecan), or a charcoal or gas grill with a box or packet of hardwood (preferably hickory, oak, or pecan) to 275°F.
3. Using your hands or a brush, evenly, but lightly, coat the brisket with canola oil. Insert a remote thermometer in the thickest part of the brisket.
4. Place in the cooker, fat side down. After 2 hours spray every hour with apple juice spray. Cook until the internal temperature reaches 165°F, about 6 to 71⁄2 hours (the colder the meat is going into the cooker the longer it will take).
© 2009 APL Creative Inc from Serious Barbecue
5. Meanwhile, combine the wrapping mixture ingredients.
6. Lay out a double sheet of aluminum foil, top with the brisket, and cover with the wrapping mixture. Securely wrap in the foil. Reinsert the thermometer. Place back in the cooker and cook until the internal temperature reaches 195°F, 2 to 21⁄2 hours.
7. Meanwhile, line a small cooler with a beach towel or other large towels to insulate the inside of the cooler.
8. Remove the brisket from the cooker and carefully unwrap over a baking dish or disposable pan, reserving the liquid. Lay out a double sheet of aluminum foil and top with the brisket. Strain all of the juices from the pan through a fine- mesh strainer set over a liquid measuring cup. Discard any solids. Allow the fat to come to the top, pour off, and discard. For the enhanced sauce, reserve 1⁄2 cup of the beef liquid. Pour the remaining defatted liquid over the brisket. Securely wrap in the foil, place in a disposable pan, and transfer to the cooler. Cover the top with the towels, close the lid, and let rest for 1 hour. After the brisket has rested for about 30 minutes, increase the temperature of the cooker to 300°F.
9. Meanwhile, combine the reserved beef liquid, BBQ sauce, and vinegar.
10. Remove the brisket from the cooler, carefully unwrap, coat with the sauce, place back in the cooker, fat side up, and cook for 30 minutes.
11. Paint the remaining sauce on a cutting board, top with the brisket, and let rest for 10 minutes.
12. Slice the brisket against the grain into 1⁄8-inch slices, dredging in the sauce. When you’re carving, you’ll notice that the grain changes direction when you move from the flat to the point. Don’t let it throw you— just make sure you’re cutting against the grain at all times. Sprinkle with fleur de sel.