Prior to finding Stumpy, I had been doing a ton of research on how BBQ should be cooked and found that there are many subtle nuances depending on the type of meat and the type of cut.
The holy grail of BBQ turns out to be beef brisket because it’s an awkward piece of meat that takes many many hours of cooking in order to get it tender…so being the gung-ho type (or maybe a sucker for punishment) I decided to tackle a brisket right from the start. Little did I know, at the time, that finding a proper sized brisket in my neck of the woods would be difficult and also cost-prohibitive. When I say “proper sized” I’m meaning a full 12-15 lb uncut brisket and it seemed that my only option was a local butcher who was charging $7.99/lb. I know I’m crazy at times but paying over 100 bucks for a cut of meat for my first cook seemed just insane!
Ironically, we have a local farmer who rents some of our land and grows crops for the Angus cattle that he raises. One day I was chatting with him and mentioned how outrageous brisket prices were and he looked at me and said “What size are you looking for?” I told him and two days later his wife shows up at our door with a 13 lb full brisket…no charge! Sweet fancy moses..I felt like I won the lottery! So now it was time to clear the calendar, fire up Stumpy, prep that hunk of meat and see if my copious amount of research (and a bit of luck) can yield something tasty for dinner:
Here is the packaged brisket. It is known as a “Full Packer” which is the entire pectoral muscle of the cow and consists of both the point and flat. To help give you some size perspective, the cutting board its sitting on measures 15″ x 21″ and this sucker will expand a bit once out of the cryovac package!
Now I’ve removed the raw brisket from its packaging and you can get a sense of how it lays out. It is a huge cut of meat and there are some uneven parts sticking out so they need to be trimmed off along with some of the fat. There are varying opinions in the BBQ world whether to trim fat off the cap or not but I’m going to thin it down a wee bit so my rub can help form a nice bark. At this point in time, its 5am and Stumpy has been pre-heating for a little bit..he’s getting hungry so just one more step to go before throwing this baby on.
After trimming, all that’s left to do is apply some top secret brisket rub which will help form the bark and give the meat some extra zest. Wanna know the recipe to the secret rub?? Lean close and I’ll whisper it to you…..salt and pepper. Yup, that’s it. 🙂
Now the fun begins and after approximately 12 hours of patiently waiting (read: nervously worrying that it wasn’t going to cook right), I opened up the cooker to find this glorious dark piece of meat. So far so good! As you can see a very nice bark (crust) has formed around the brisket and before we can get to eating, this hunk has to relax and rest. Resting is very important because the meat has been under a lot of stress and now needs to unwind and allow the juices to soak back in a bit. So I’ll just lightly wrap it up and have it sit on the counter for another couple of hours…I thought it would cool down too much over that time but surprisingly it stayed very warm and now ready for slicing!
Slicing a brisket can be tricky because the grain runs in different directions depending on if its the point or the flat that you are cutting. Here are the final results and you know what, not bad for a first go around. Everything had a nice smoke ring to it (that’s the pink you see along the cut edges so you know smoke penetrated the meat) but the flat (which is the leaner section) turned out to be a bit dry…so some tweaking had to be done for next time. The larger point section came out quite tender and you can see the nice rendering of fat within the meat. By this time we were starving and dove right in. A brisket of this size could feed a small army so there were plenty of leftovers to be had but nothing beats a successful cook for a first timer!
Man, creating this post sure has gotten me hungry…time to forage for some lunch. Bye for now! 🙂