What is being said....

"I need dessert for my blood sugar."

Mallory, 7 yrs.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Well....At Least The Brisket Was Good

The route to the Super Bowl (dinner) was going to be low and slow.  I had 3 briskets to cook that I had put on a rub and marinated for 24 hours.  Two were 2lbs each (all the way from a butcher in IA who was hard of hearing) and the 3rd was 11lbs from Sams' Club (no disability with the butcher that I know of). The plan was to cook the large brisket at 225* for about 15 hours.  I would pull the smaller briskets after about 4 hours, turn them into burnt ends, and then put them back on the smoker for the final two hours of the cook so everything was done at once.  One thing I've learned in my short month-long academy is that time means nothing in BBQ.  If a piece of meat is *supposed* to take 10 hours to cook, it can take anywhere from 6 to 16 hours.  It makes it difficult to plan to have a meal done and ready to serve at a specific time.  That is why many people BBQ the day prior to the meal and then re-heat it if they can.  They are not rushed, stressed, smell like hickory (like that is a bad thing) or tired for the big meal.

In my *perfect* world, I was going to start the cook at 11:00 pm on Saturday and have everything ready by 3:00 Sunday afternoon (remember, time means nothing in BBQ world).  We could snack on the burnt ends during the first half and the brisket could rest for a couple of hours before dinner.  I go out to pre-heat the smoker and it's snowing!  Nobody told me about this.  I know that it's tough to keep the smoker at a steady temp with a cold wind blowing across it.  Plus the cold temps can really impact cooking time (good thing time means nothing).  I move my smoker down under our covered porch and put one of Bergen's walls that he uses for CQB (Close Quarters Battle) up as a shelter.  It wasn't pretty, but it would help.  I put on a combination of mesquite and pecan wood and soon the smoke is wafting (actually blowing across the yard at 40 mph) in the air.

I get the meat on right about 11:00 pm.  With the cold temps/wind and 15lbs of cold meat in it, the smoker takes nearly an hour to get back up to 225*.  I monitor the temp for about two hours, making adjustments and finally getting it to settle in where I want it. I have a remote thermometer and have the alarm set if the temps get too high or low.  The temps have been holding steady and I decide to get some rest at 2:00.  At 2:30 the alarm starts going off (Augh!).  The temp in the box is dropping.  I go out and adjust it, but it won't raise in temp.  Before long, I've got the smoker on high and it's maintaining a temp right around 220*.  I didn't realize I was going to have to fight against the cold so much.  I try to rest again around 3:30 and the alarm goes of at 4:30.  The meat temp on the small briskets was showing 185*, but my alarm was set for 195*, something wasn't right. I turn off the alarm and try to sleep for another hour when Jynelle will be up for church.  Up at 5:30 with Jynelle to check the meat, 193*, just about there.  The smaller ones are finally done at 5:50 am.  Now, I didn't think of this earlier, but these small briskets had been cooking for nearly 7 hours.  They should have been done closer to 3-4 hours.  Of course time doesn't mean anything, but in this case it did.  I got the small briskets out and checked the temps with another thermometer - 270*....WAAAAYYYY over done.  Something was off with my thermometer and I'm not sure what, but that would explain why the meat took so long and why the smoker had to be on high to maintain 220*.  Crud, I wondered about the larger piece of meat.  I probed it with a thermometer and it's temp was about 170*.  Not yet done, but a lot further along than I had planned on.  I wrap all of the briskets in foil, let the smaller ones rest and put the larger back in our oven to finish cooking.  I didn't want to risk ruining the brisket and the meat had taken as much smoke as it was going to take.  Another 3 hours and the large brisket is done. 6 hours earlier than planned (see, time means nothing). I turn off the oven and let it rest until after church.  I may have said a prayer or two about how the meat was all going to turn out.  After resting for 3 hours, it's time to see what the damage is.  The brisket looks very good actually.  I touch it to check tenderness and it's like sticking my finger on a Jell-O mold (picture a red Jell-O ring, not the green kind with carrots and olives in it).  Just like it is supposed to be.  I start my slicing across the grain and my oh my.  The juices start seeping and the meat is near perfect!

The meat is tender and juicy and oh so good (I had to taste it to make sure).  The bark is outstanding.  I thought since I put it in foil the bark might not come out well, but apparently it had set enough in the smoker that putting it in foil didn't impact it. Remember, that black outer coating is not burnt.  It is BBQ heaven.

I get the smaller briskets cut up into bite sized cubes to make burnt ends.  The meat is much tougher, but they are going to be covered in more rub and BBQ sauce and smoked for another two hours.  Maybe the heat and moisture will soften them up.  After two hours in a pan on the smoker, the burnt ends come out much better than expected.  They are tender and juicy. The re-heating and BBQ sauce did the trick, I'm ready to load it all up and take it over to my in-laws for the Super Bowl meal.

Now for whatever reason, I didn't get pictures of the burnt ends or my sauce carrier filled up with sauce (see previous post).  I didn't have time to make my own sauce, but purchased some Nordy's KC and Texas styles, a Dr. Pepper BBQ sauce, and we still had some Famous Dave's Rich and Sassy.  The brisket was a big hit.  The burnt ends were a little heavy on the rub, but still tasted good.  Everyone enjoyed their fill and we had plenty left over to eat throughout the week for lunch.
Overall it was a great afternoon.  We ate and snacked. Played cards (Doug won again) and watched the game.  The game was one of the best we'd seen (especially after last year) and it was fun to watch up until the last 20 seconds.  Unlike BBQ, time does matter in football and the Seahawks ran out of it (or more likely, threw out of it). Oh well, here's to next year.

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