Parting Brisket…..

9 Mar

Today was Missy’s last day at the law firm where she has worked for the past two years. She starts a new job with a title insurance company on Monday. Over the past couple of years, I’ve cooked lunch for her co-workers. I’ve done beef brisket for brisket tacos and pork butt for pulled pork and they’ve both been well-received, but the brisket seemed to be the favorite. When Missy told the group she was leaving, they asked if I would cook brisket for them one more time. Cook? Brisket? SURE!

I had planned to cook two packers, but when I hit the Sam’s Club yesterday afternoon, they had only flats so I picked up three flats, about 6 lbs each, for the cook.  I did a light trim on the briskets, leaving the fat cap on the bottom and rubbed them up with a blend of salt, pepper and granulated garlic, then topped the briskets with a dusting of the “Wow up your Cow” rub.

Since this was an overnight cook – or most of the night – and I like to sleep on work nights, I decided to cook on the Traeger Texas grill, using Traeger Pecan pellets. The briskets went on the smoker at 9:30, with the temperature control set to 225 and actual temperatures on the digital read out running about 235 – 240. I went to bed and then got up at 2:30 and wrapped the briskets in foil, adding some cheap beer to the foil before putting the meat back on the smoker. About 5:00 this morning, I went down to check on the progress and the meat temps were around 200 degrees and the temperature probe “fell into” the meat when I checked the temperature. Perfect, BUT I knew that the temps would continue to rise and it was likely that the briskets would be a little overdone by competition judging standards. So I left the briskets in the foil sitting out on a table for a couple hours to minimize the temperature rise.

Since there isn’t a kitchen on the floor where Missy’s office is located, I needed to slice up the brisket before I left for the office. I drained the pan juices from the foil and set it aside, then sliced the briskets. Since I knew the briskets might be a bit overdone, I used an electric knife to get a cleaner cut, and this helped considerably. The briskets would, for the most part, have been a bit overdone for competition (bit I think I still could gotten six decent slices for a turn in box if I had to), but as it turned out, was just right for making brisket tacos. I sliced the briskets, then took the odd ends and trimmings and chopped them in a faux burnt ends presentation that I put in one end of one of the half pans.  Since I still had a while to go before leaving for work, I decided to try something: I took the fat caps I trimmed from the bottom of the briskets and put them on top of the pans of beef, then put a foil lid on each pan and put them in the oven at 170 until time to leave for the office. My theory was that the fat caps might continue to render and help keep the briskets moist.

I put the pan drippings in the refrigerator to separate the fat from the juices and got ready for work. By the time I was dressed, the fat had coagulated at the top of the container and I was able to remove it easily, then season the drippings with Worcestershire Sauce, Stubbs Spicy BBQ sauce and some apple juice, as well as a little chicken stock (a good flavor neutral medium) and beef stock.

I transferred the pans to a cooler then headed to work until time to take the food over to the law firm. Once there, I got the meat ready to serve. The fat caps covering the sliced meat seemed to do their jobs since the brisket slices still had a moist sheen to them.  I transferred the meat to a couple of microwavable serving dishes, added some of the sauce, and heated the meat just a bit (it was still pretty warm when removed from the cooler).

The verdict: although I would have considered the brisket a bit overcooked if I was presented with my slices at a contest, I thought the meat was just right for the tacos we were serving today. The meat was still moist, was very tender. We had about 10 pounds of meat, about 25 people and just a little bit left over. Most folks were getting second (or third) helpings so I’m calling it a success. Still kicking myself for not getting it off the smoker at “just” the right moment, but there is a difference between competition food and regular good eatin’ food and while this might not have gotten me any 9’s at a KCBS contest, it did get me a lot of High 5’s at the lunch table!


2 Responses to “Parting Brisket…..”

  1. Phellepa March 9, 2012 at 8:25 pm #

    damn; I missed it again!!! Ribeyes I cooked were dead on; marinated in beer and spices for awhile; waste of good beer. Good ribeyes stand on their own!!!

    • bbqesq1 March 10, 2012 at 7:15 am #

      YOU INSPIRE ME! Tonight, Ribeyes it shall be!

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