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Texas beef brisket barbecue

Thursday, July 18, 2002

  • 8- to 10-pound beef brisket, untrimmed (it should have a thick layer of fat on one side)
  • Texas Dry Rub, or salt and black pepper to taste
  • Texas Wet Mop, optional
  • Lone Star Barbecue Sauce (Click here for rub, mop and sauce recipes)
  • 10 to 12 white sandwich buns, optional
  • Dill pickle slices, sliced onions, and/or pickled jalapeno peppers, for garnish

Generously coat all sides of the brisket, particularly the fat layer, with the rub or salt and pepper. Cover and let the meat come to room temperature, about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, prepare a fire by lighting wood or a combination of wood and charcoal in the firebox of a cooker or at the end of a barrel smoker opposite the end with the vent or chimney. Or light the coals in a water smoker. Or preheat a gas smoker/grill.

When the fire has burned down to glowing embers or the coals are covered with gray ash, place the brisket on the grate but not directly over the coals. Or place a full pan of water over the coals or hot lava rocks, then add the grate and brisket. The fire should be low, 225 to 250 degrees.

Cover the cooker and smoke the brisket, turning every hour or so, until it is tender and the internal temperature reaches 180 to 190 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 8 to 10 hours. Tend the fire by adding wood (or wood embers from a separate fire) or coals to keep it from going out and to keep the temperature inside the cooker between 225 and 300 degrees. If using a mop (basting is advisable only when cooking without a water pan), brush it on when turning the brisket or after tending the fire.

When the brisket is charred and tender (a fork should insert easily), remove it from the cooker and allow to rest about 20 minutes.

Trim off the fat layer and cut brisket in thin slices across the grain. Serve with warm barbecue sauce, if desired. Or stack several slices in a sandwich bun spread lightly with sauce. Add more sauce, as desired.

Serve with pickles, sliced fresh onion rings, and jalapeno peppers. Serves 10 to 12.

Fail-Safe Technique: The following technique produces smoky, tender brisket and cuts the time almost in half. Season the brisket as for long cooking. Light a fire in a charcoal grill that is big enough to hold the brisket. Allow the coals to burn until covered with gray ash. Place the brisket on the grill, fat side down. Grill the brisket about 45 minutes or until the fat is charred, turning when necessary to stop fat from dripping into the fire. Squirt flare-ups with water to douse the flames. Remove the brisket from the grill.

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Place the brisket on a double thickness of aluminum foil in a shallow roasting pan. Wrap it tightly and bake for 4 to 5 hours or until the meat is very tender. Remove the brisket from the oven and peel back the foil. Increase the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Return the brisket to the oven and roast, uncovered, for 30 minutes to crisp the top layer of fat. Allow the meat to rest for 20 minutes. Trim off the fat layer and cut across the grain into thin slices. Serve with barbecue sauce.

Tester's note: We admit it: we cheated and used the fail-safe technique with scrumptious results. We used the dry rub but not the mop. And by all means, make the Lone Star Barbecue Sauce -- it's terrific.

"Celebrating Barbecue" by Dotty Griffith

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