Recap: Speedy and Monk vs. The Beast Mode Brisket

Monk: As our loyal readers may recall, last year Speedy and I had a Super Bowl Smoke-Off of pork butts where I was fortunate enough to defeat Speedy in a close vote. This year, we wanted to switch it up and try our hands at smoking a brisket, something which neither of us had done. I have to admit, being largely unfamiliar with beef barbecue I was a little anxious to see just how this would go.

Speedy: First off, I’m still bitter about said smoke-off. I guess it’s my own fault for letting Mrs. Monk count the votes. Foolish.

Monk: Mrs. Monk is a saint!

Speedy: …But I digress. When I told Mama Speedy about our Super Bowl plans she volunteered to go to Shuler Meats to grab us a brisket. Everything I’ve ever had from Shuler’s has been awesome (and Mama Speedy goes there A LOT), so I immediately took her up on that offer. We got a really nice brisket and a few chicken wings and we were ready to go.

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Monk: A few chicken wings? Pshh, try nearly 10 lbs worth. Not to mention she got us a 15 lb packer brisket with both the flat and the point. Mama Speedy really hooked it up. Clearly we were going to try and cook it as authentic central Texas style as we could, so both Speedy and I did some research and consulted several YouTube videos on cooking briskets, particularly the Aaron Franklin ones we posted last week. So the night before the Super Bowl, we tried our hands at trimming the fat of the brisket down (with a few minor mistakes) and used a rub that mostly consisted of coarse salt and pepper (plus a few other spices). We also drank a lot of Shiner. And not just Shiner Bock. We got a Shiner Spring seasonal six pack (FM 966 if you are keeping score at home) plus another variety pack with 6 different types of Shiner, a few of which I had never even heard of. And in case we ran out of those bottles, I just so happened to still have a little Shiner Oktoberfest in the kegerator (we didn’t get that far, thankfully). Needless to say, I think we were in the right Texas mindset to smoke some brisket.

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Speedy: So we were left with a decision – put in a little extra effort and cook true ‘cue on Monk’s Weber charcoal grill (set up as an indirect smoker, of course) or use my electric smoker, not worry about getting up in the middle of the night to check the fire and take the easy (and less tasty) way out. But Monk and I don’t do anything the easy way. So we fired up the Weber with hardwood briquettes and white oak chunks.

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Monk: That itself presented its own challenges, as I experienced last year, with keeping the temperature consistent. Not to mention the fact that due to our inexperience with brisket we decided to start the smoking at midnight the night before to ensure that we would have enough time to properly smoke the meat. The last thing we wanted was to be meatless once our guests arrived the next day.

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Speedy: Of course Monk and I had to check the fire throughout the night, so Monk checked it right before he went to bed (around 1:30) and I set an alarm for 4 am. Heading out to Monk’s patio, I was displeased to see the fire nearly out, with just a few coals left burning. Now, dear readers, you may not know this, but I’m not exactly a cool customer, so I freaked out. Not wanting to wake Monk up, I immediately threw on more coals but also filled up the starter chimney and got that going as well. Shortly after, Monk awoke to find me nearly burning down his house. We decided we’d make a second pile of coals to put in the grill in order to make sure we didn’t lose heat. I’m not sure this was the greatest idea, but it made us feel like we could go back to sleep.

Monk: I arose a few hours later and lo and behold, the brisket internal temp was just about 180 – so uh, yeah, it was very close to being finished, only at 7am and waaay before we needed it to be. Maybe we had been a little aggressive with the extra charcoal at 4am but what are you going to do. We kept the brisket on the smoker for another 3 hours until the internal temp was at 190 and decided that if we didn’t want an overdone brisket, we needed to take it off the smoker and figure out some way to keep it warm for about 8 hours. Clearly, this was not the ideal situation.

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Speedy: But we thought to ourselves “Hey – these restaurants keep their brisket warm all day. If only there were a way that we could see what others have done in similar situations.” It took a while to figure out what to do, but Monk had the great idea of Googling a solution. The answer – wrap the meat in double foil, then in a towel, place in a cooler, and stuff the rest of the cooler full of towels so there’s no empty space. So we did. And 8 hours later, I got the brisket out to slice and let me tell you – it was HOT!

Monk: …which was such a relief. As he was slicing the brisket, Speedy mentioned to me that the flat was a little dry but that the point was still pretty moist, which I understand to be pretty common when cooking brisket. However, the brisket went pretty quickly so that had to be a good sign. Unfortunately, I actually don’t think I had much brisket at all once it was served – there was too much going on at the party in terms of gathering prop bet sheets and quarters bets before kickoff and then I kinda forgot to eat. I also forgot to take any more photos the rest of the night…oops.

Speedy: At the end of the day, I think it turned out well for our first try. Did we make some mistakes? Sure. But we turned out a nice brisket that people really enjoyed. I think the flavor was great and we had great bark – we just dried out a bit of it. But that just gives us an excuse to do it all over again!

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