Monday, August 31, 2009

How to Smoke a Brisket - Steven Raichlen

This is my 16th recipe from Steven Raichlen's incredible book... HOW TO GRILL

How to Smoke a Brisket detailed instructions are on page 42 of the book. Lots of pictures and two recipes for a rub and for the mop. I am no stranger to smoking a brisket, and I have had great success doing it... my way (plug in your Frank Sinatra for the rest of this blog... or better yet, Fat Elvis used to sing this on his later tours, and his version is terrific). But, in the spirit of the challenge of doing a book cook through, I tossed out all my preconceived notions and followed Steven's instructions to a tee.

First thing I had to get used to was the size of the brisket. I am one of those guys that fills the whole rack up anytime I fire up a smoker. Steven advocates using just the center portion of the flat. That's fine. Actually much easier than cooking an entire brisket. The meat is uniform size (thickness), and much easier to cook. Plus, I had an entire brisket, so this way I could cook half with Steven's recipe, and half with a new technique I have been wanting to try, injecting marinade (which I will be blogging about tomorrow).

As always, the instructions were very clear and easy to follow. The rub recipe did not make enough to cover the brisket. Possibly the section I had was larger than what was used in Steven's test grill, but I ended up having to double it.

And while we are on recipes, let me give you the standard disclaimer I always use about reprinting recipes......Long time readers of the blog, I am going to start coloring the lettering in the disclaimer, it will be the same for each review, feel free to skip to the standard black colored text...

OK, here's my generic talk about Steven Raichlen and his book...and me... As long time readers know, I am doing my own tribute (rip-off) off the Julie/Julia project, cooking my way through Steven's amazing grill guide, HOW TO GRILL. Unlike Julie, I won't be finishing this in a year, but I will be making an item at least once a week.

A word about reprinting recipes... I asked for some advice a few posts back. I understand that it is done, lots of people do it, and there would be no consequences. But, I decided not to reprint any of Steven's recipes from this book. I have several reasons, first and probably most important to readers, I just think that this is a book that should be in every one's library. Buy the book. It is very detailed, comes highly recommended by someone who cooks on the grill often (me), lots of photos, lots of instruction... Darn near idiot proof. But, most important to me, I want to respect the copyright. In another life, I owned a book store. I have met and socialized with authors, and I have a great deal of respect for the effort it takes to produce a work like this. It may take a couple years, but eventually, I intend to make every single recipe in the book. Starting to reproduce the recipes, intending to do them all would certainly offend me as a book seller, and probably Steven as the copyright holder. Buy the book, Amazon has used copies available for under $7. Worth every penny.

OK, back to the recipe. I am a mister instead of a mopper. What that means is that in the past, I always used a spray bottle to mist my meat any time the smoker was open. I used either Apple Juice, or occasionally a recipe I had found. But Steven suggested a mop and a vinegar beer solution. This worked fin. And gave me an excuse to buy a new toy for the grill as I did not have a mop brush (only cost a buck).

Cooking is easy, low and slow, about an hour and a half per pound at 225 degrees. Internal temperature needs to reach 190 degrees. Only change I did was I took it off the smoker when it reached 185, and then double wrapped in foil for two hours. This allowed the cooking process to continue on it's own and temp was easily reached. Steven advocates taking the brisket strait from the smoker (or grill), letting it rest for ten minutes, and then carving. I have just had such tender juicy meat come from using the Texas Crutch that I build that time into my cooking prep time.

And I certainly was NOT let down this time. Look at that smoke ring. That deep pink circle around the brown center is the sign that everything went right. Until a piece of meat reached 140 degrees, the nitrates in the meat interact with the smoke and creates this sign of BBQ genius. I have cooked dozens of brisket, but this was the deepest red I have ever achieved. Was it in the mop? Maybe it was in the rub recipe of Steven's. Or maybe this particular piece of meat took to the process better. Anyway, it made a spectacular presentation.

But, more important than the look is the taste, and this tasted just as good as it looks. Juicy, tender, the bark formed from the rub was filled with spiced flavors. All in all, a perfect brisket.

The book outlines specifically the cooking process on a grill, as opposed to a smoker. So, if you only own a grill, following the detailed instructions in the book will get you similar results.

On my scale of 1-5, gets a great 5. I Liked the results very much, and will certainly be making this again with little or no alterations. An interesting however that i will talk about tomorrow. In addition to this recipe, I also prepared a separate brisket that i injected with a marinade. It was a completely different look and taste. I will be blogging about this tomorrow and will compare each different version... Each of these was a standout for different reasons. So be sure and check back tomorrow...

Here's my brisket version 2...just to wet your appetite.


  1. You had me at brisket! Love the smoke ring too - very impressed!

    I think I need to purchase a smoker now - they may be on sale at the end of the summer!

  2. Wow! ... ... That is a stunning piece of meat. I'd take a whole stack of slices on top of some rice. Yum!

  3. This is so mouthwatering...I can't tell you how hungry this is making me right now - with my appetite issues and everything! Wow.