Smoked BBQ Beef Brisket


Smoked BBQ Beef Brisket | Culinary Compost Recipes

Anything declared “the official BBQ dish of Texas” has to be good. This defines authentic BBQ brisket.  And it should come as no surprise that some good things take time to prepare.  Lots of time.

Lots of time with lots of cold beer.

The key to good brisket is selecting a quality cut of meat, and then smoking it at a constant temperature, slow and low over hardwood chips for many hours.

You’ll note that many people prefer to baste the surface of the beef with a light coat of yellow mustard before adding the rub. This is called “the glue” by BBQ afficionados, and in theory, helps the dry rub ingredients bind to the meat and keep it moist while smoking. In all honesty, I’ve never noticed a difference in taste, texture or juiciness with or without it. You decide.

Selecting a Quality Cut of Meat:
The grade of beef brisket available in most supermarkets or meat shops vary in quality and are:  Select, Choice and Prime. Prime is the best you can get, and you will pay a premium for it, so be prepared to take a hit on your wallet.  If you’re looking at a reasonably-priced cut of Select brisket on sale in your local supermarket, my advice is to not waste your time. You’ll want to go with a cut that’s at least Choice grade.  Remember, Quality in = quality out… you really do get what you pay for.  Spend a bit more money for an unbelievable finished product.  Here are some tips for getting started:

 

INGREDIENT:

1 Choice or Prime-grade cut of beef brisket; flat or point (calculate total pounds needed) with a generous fat cap and good marbling
BBQ brisket rub (Click here for Jim Fanto’s secret rub recipe)
Wood chips for smoking – either Hickory or Oak, with a small amount of Mesquite
Apple juice for the drip pan

You will also need:
Empty beer cooler (the unfortunate assumption is you’ve drank all of the beer while you waited.)
Thick bath towels
Plastic wrap and heavy aluminum foil
Digital timer

 

DIRECTIONS:

The night before you plan to smoke the brisket, lay out the meat on a large cutting board and trim the fat cap down to 1/4″. Note the grain of the meat* – you’ll need to use this for determining how to cut it after it’s done smoking (More on that in a bit.)  Sprinkle generously with dry rub, ensuring all sides are coated. Pat down with your hands and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.

The next morning, calculate the hours needed for the smoke, including time needed for the stall, or plateau and a 45min-1 hour rest before slicing, using 1.5 hours per pound as a minimum for your guide. For example:  Shown below in the photos is a brisket flat that’s just under 3 pounds. Let’s do the math;  3 x 1.5 = 4.5 hours.  Add at least 1 hour for the stall (explainer below), and one hour for the rest before slicing. This particular cut took exactly 6.5 hours, from the time I put it in the preheated smoker, to the time I took it out of the cooler after resting. Now, with that said, you will never know exactly how long the stall is, as this time varies by the weight and structure of the meat — if it has a lot of fat and marbling, it will react differently than a more lean cut of meat. After time, you will know roughly what to expect when planning for the stall.

The Stall, or Plateau, Defined:
There is nothing more frustrating thinking you’re going to be serving your BBQ masterpiece at 6pm, only to find out it stalled for over two hours at a fixed temperature, throwing off your plans until well after 8pm. At roughly 160-degrees F., meat will hover at a constant temperature before rising again to the proper temperature needed to remove and then let rest. This is called “the stall” and it’s a phenomenon caused by the evaporation of moisture from the meat in the smoker box, effectively cooling the meat for a time, until the temperature-to-water ratio in the box corrects itself. At this point, the temperature will increase again, with the final hour or two increasing more rapidly due to the rendering process of the fat.

Remember, the brisket will be done when it’s done, and it may not be a time that you can control. You’ll need to plan ahead for this in your calculation, giving you enough time for the smoke and rest.

Next Steps:
An hour before you are ready to smoke, preheat your smoker to 225-degrees F. Ensure the ash is cleaned from the wood tray and that the wood tray is properly seated around the heating element.  Add about two cups of apple juice to the drip pan and close the smoker door. At this time, remove the brisket from the fridge. Remove the plastic wrap and allow to warm up on your counter.

Oil a grill grate with peanut oil on both sides. Place the brisket on the grate and carefully place in the smoker. Insert the digital probe into the thickest part of the meat. Close and lock the door, ensuring it’s tight. That door needs to stay closed and be treated like a Prohibition-era bank vault for the entire smoke!  No peeking!  Add one cup of wood chips to the chip loader and then start a digital timer.

After 45 minutes, reload the wood chips. Add wood again after another 45 minutes. You will not need to load more wood after 135 total minutes as the meat will not absorb more smoke. In case you’re wondering, the magic meat temperature for this cutoff is about 140-degrees F.

Your target temp for removing the meat from the smoker is 195-197-degrees F.  As discussed above, at about 160 the meat will hit the stall and hover there for at least 45 minutes to several hours. At about 170-degrees it will start climbing. Check the internal meat probe temperature often after this point as it will continue to rise more quickly.

Remove the brisket from the smoker when it hits your target internal temperature of 195-197. Working quickly, remove the probe and wrap tightly in heavy aluminum foil.
Place the meat in the bottom of an empty beer cooler. Layer towels over the top of the meat (this acts as an insulator) and seal covered for 45-minutes to 1 hour.

Remove and slice carefully, perpendicular to the grain* in 3/8″ planks. Serve immediately with your favorite BBQ sauce on the side, potatoes, beans, roast corn, or just about any other Southern dish you can think of. Brisket plays nice with everything. Enjoy!!

Jim Fanto's Secret BBQ Beef Brisket Rub | Culinary Compost Recipes

Smoked BBQ Beef Brisket | Culinary Compost RecipesSmoked BBQ Beef Brisket | Culinary Compost Recipes

Thai Panang Curry Beef


Thai Panang Curry Beef Recipe | Culinary Compost

Panang (Phanaeng) curry beef is one of my favorite Thai dishes. A local restaurant makes it very hot at my request; although traditionally, it is not as spicy as red Thai curry. Regarding the preparation, it may seem counter-intuitive to drop the raw meat in the sauce and simmer it, instead of flash-frying it first, but this is the authentic way to prepare it. Either method works well.

This recipe, like many from Thailand, doesn’t require intense heat for cooking, so you can use any commercially-made wok on a kitchen stovetop, with great results. I prefer to use a 14-pound Lodge cast-iron wok on my ceramic glass stovetop, as it heats very evenly, and provides a lot of surface area to work with. It is one of my favorite kitchen tools. You can also use a deep, heavy skillet.

The dish is traditionally served without vegetables, but I gotta have some color working with that spicy mojo, so I always add red pepper and a contrasting green vegetable like pea-pods or green beans. Thinly-sliced serrano or Thai chilies also work well. The addition of crushed peanuts to the sauce is very traditional, influenced by Indian cuisine. You may omit them if you choose. An excellent source regarding the history of this dish can be found here. Miranti knows her stuff!

Control the heat by the amount of curry and cayenne you add. The preparation is very quick, so have everything ready and accessible before you start.

Here’s my version – Enjoy!

 

Ingredients:

1 lb. flank steak, cut against the grain in 1/4″ thin strips
1 can coconut milk
4 tbs. Panang or red curry paste (the red curry is more spicy)
3 tbs. fish sauce, to taste
2-3 tbs. dark brown sugar, to taste
1 red bell or hot red chili, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, thinly sliced lengthwise
A handful of fresh pea-pods or green beans
1 cup fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
Ground cayenne pepper, to taste
dash of lime juice, about two tbs.
Crushed peanuts
Cooked Thai jasmine rice

 

Directions:

Hit both sides of the beef filet with a needle tenderizer. Slice into 1/4″ strips against the grain and trim away the excess fat. Preheat the wok over medium heat. Add one-half of the can of coconut milk and stir until the fat starts to separate out, about three minutes. Add the curry paste. Cook, stirring for an additional three minutes until fragrant. Add the beef. Stir to coat and cook until the exterior is no longer pink.

Add the rest of the coconut milk, the fish sauce, the brown sugar and cayenne pepper. Stir to incorporate and increase the heat on the wok. Bring to a rolling boil.

Next, add the red pepper, onion and pea-pods or green beans. Cook, stirring occasionally until reduced, about 10-15 minutes. The sauce should be very thick at this point and reduced by half.

Shut off the heat, stir in the basil and lime juice, the crushed peanuts, and serve immediately over jasmine rice.

Serves 2-4

NOTE: Traditionally, kaffir lime leaves are also called for. They are impossible to find in my area. They impart a very different flavor than basil, so if you can find them, give it a try by adding a few that are finely cut into strips.

When preparing the rice, do not add salt; the curry and fish sauce are loaded with it.

Thai Panang Curry Beef Recipe | Culinary Compost

Wok-Seared Mongolian Beef


Wok-fried Mongolian Beef

This is a recipe based on a personal favorite from P.F. Chang’s Asian-Bistro restaurant, copycat’d by foodie genius Todd Wilbur.  I thought the amount of brown sugar was way overdone, so I reduced it to a half cup, and I decided to add a healthy kick of Thai chili.  Quick and easy preparation makes this a home run for busy families. It is also very economical – my total bill for the ingredients was $14.00. It will easily feed three people.

Enjoy—

Ingredients:
1 pound Angus top blade or flank steak, sliced perpendicular to the grain in 1/8″ strips
1/4 cup corn starch, packed and leveled
1/2 cup peanut oil for wok frying
2 Thai green chilis – stemmed, seeded and thinly sliced.
4 stalks scallion, trimmed and cut into 2″ chunks, then split lengthwise
2 cups quick-cook 5-minute white rice

For the Sauce:
1″ chunk fresh ginger root, peeled and minced
4 huge cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tbs. dry Thai chili pepper flakes
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed and leveled
2 tbs. peanut oil

Preparation:
Slice the steak into 1/8″ strips and place in a shaker bag with the corn starch. Shake vigorously to coat the meat, ensuring the corn starch is evenly distributed.  Set aside.

Prep all of your ingredients so they are ready to go when needed – wok cooking is very fast – the entire cook time takes less than 7 minutes.

Prepare the sauce ingredients by heating 2 tbs. peanut oil over medium heat in a heavy pot – then add the garlic and ginger. Stir constantly to avoid scorching the garlic for three minutes.  Add the 1/2 cup water, brown sugar, soy sauce and dry Thai chili flakes. Increase heat and simmer for three more minutes until reduced. Remove from heat and set aside.

Heat an outdoor charcoal grill with enough coal for a medium-hot fire. Leave the coal in a center mound for direct heating under a cast-iron wok.
When the coals are white-hot, place the wok directly over the coals on a grilling grate. Add the 1/2 cup of peanut oil. Heat until shimmering. Add the sliced steak. Stir for three minutes with a Chinese spider strainer. Remove the steak and drain in a bowl lined with paper towels. Discard the peanut oil.

When drained, add the steak back to the wok – Stir for another two minutes until lightly browned. Add the sauce. Cook for another two minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the scallion and green chile. Stir for one minute and remove from heat. Serve immediately over hot white rice.

Serves 4

Wok-fried Mongolian Beef

Wok-fried Mongolian BeefWok-fried Mongolian Beef

Apple-Smoked Spoon Roast


Festival Foods is a local supermarket chain here in Wisconsin. They market a cut of beef called a “Spoon Roast” that is basically a prime tri-tip loin cut. For this recipe, be sure to select a cut that is unseasoned – (Festival offers one called a burgundy pepper seasoned spoon roast.)  We will add our own marinade, let it sit overnight and then slow smoke it for several hours over apple wood until the marinade forms a nice crusty glaze and the meat is fall-apart tender and super juicy.

Serve with roasted carrots or asparagus and baby red potatoes on the side.  Good eats!!


Ingredients:

1 tri-tip unseasoned Angus certified “spoon” roast – (about 2.25 pounds will feed a family of four)
Apple wood chips for smoking
Apple juice for the smoker drip pan – about 2 cups

For the Marinade:

1/2 cup soy sauce
1 tbs. worchestershire sauce
3 tbs. yellow mustard
3 tbs. lemon juice
2 tbs. honey
2 tbs. olive oil
2 tbs. brown sugar
1 tbs. garlic powder
2 tsp. celery salt
2 tbs. fresh ground black pepper
2 tsp. ground thyme
2 tsp. ground brown mustard seed
2 tbs. ground ancho chili powder

 

Directions:

Add the wet ingredients for the marinade in a mixing bowl and then add the dry spices. Whisk thoroughly for about three minutes so the brown sugar completely dissolves.

Place the roast in a covered locking container and cover it completely with the marinade. Seal and rotate occasionally, leaving it to set overnight in your fridge.

The next day – set your smoker at 225° F, and place two cups of apple juice in the drip pan. Remove the roast from the marinade and place in the smoker with a temperature probe in the thickest part of the meat.

Smoke over apple wood for about 1 hour or until the internal temperature reaches no more than 140° F.  Larger cuts of meat may take significantly longer.
When done, remove and let stand in a covered roasting pan for 30 minutes until ready to serve. This will draw the juices back into the meat so it stays moist.  Slice thinly and serve.

Serves 4

Mike’s Firecracker Beef Stir-Fry with Broccoli, Scallion


Firecracker Beef with Broccoli and Scallion

 

This Asian recipe can be quite hot – adjust the chilies according to your preference. Your wok must reach a temperature hot enough to quickly sear the steak and flash-fry the vegetables. I’ve found that cooking indoors on a stove just doesn’t accomplish this task. A charcoal grill and a cast-iron wok are perfect.
I use prime cuts of New York strip steak to ensure optimum flavor and tenderness.

Enjoy – this recipe is killer.

Ingredients:

1 10-oz. New York strip steak
10 small dry Thai chilies
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 tbs. brown sugar

1 head broccoli, trimmed
10 fresh market green beans, trimmed and cut into thirds
4 scallions, trimmed and quartered, then split lengthwise
1 green or red bell pepper, sliced into 1/2″ strips
1 large carrot, peeled and quartered, then cut into thin planks

2 cups beef broth
2 tbs. corn starch

2 cups 5-minute rice, cooked according to package directions
Peanut oil

Directions:

Using a very sharp knife, trim the steak of excess fat. Cut into 1/4″ strips against the grain. Cut in half if the length of each strip is too long. Whisk the brown sugar and soy sauce in a small mixing bowl. Place steak in a 1-qt. ziplock bag with the soy sauce mixture, garlic and hot Thai chilies. Seal and let stand for 3 hours in your refrigerator. Rotate occasionally.

Wash, prep and cut all of your veggies so you have them ready. Allow all ingredients to stand at room temperature before cooking.

Prepare an outdoor charcoal gril with enough coal for a medium-hot fire. When the coals are white hot, place the wok on the grill grate. Do not spread out the coals – you will need the heat concentrated directly under the wok so the steak sears properly. Allow the wok to heat until a drop of water vaporizes immediately on contact.

Add 2 tbs. peanut oil to the wok and swirl to coat. When the oil starts to ripple, add the green beans, carrot and pepper and stir for about 5 minutes until just crisp-tender. Remove from heat and place in a covered serving bowl.

Remove the steak and chilies from the ziplock bag and add to the wok. Discard the soy sauce. Spread out and let sear for three minutes. Turn with a non-stick spatula and let sit another three minutes. Remove from heat and place in the covered serving dish.

Add the beef broth and corn starch mixture to the wok. Stir constantly until thickened -about two minutes. Add the scallion. Stir. Add back the steak and other vegetables and stir until just heated through. Remove from the wok and serve immediately over rice.

Serves 2-4

 

Firecracker Steak Stir-Fry - prepping the ingredients

Prepping the ingredients.

Firecracker Steak with Stir-Fry Veggies

Flash-frying the veggies.

Firecracker Beef with Stir-Fried Hot Asian Chilies

Adding the steak and chili peppers.

Grilled Beef Kabobs with Rogan Josh Marinade


Grilled beef kabobs with rogan josh marinade

This recipe is a summer favorite in our house. We usually grill corn first and then cook the kabobs after re-stoking our 22″ Weber® charcoal kettle grill. The Rogan Josh seasoning adds unbelievable Middle-Eastern flavor.

Choose the best Angus sirloin cut of beef you can find if preparing the kabobs by hand. Our supermarket has them pre-made on skewers for convenience.

Ingredients:

4 assembled kabobs on skewers including 1.5″ cubes of Angus sirloin, green and red pepper, red onion and zucchini.

–For the Marinade:
2 cups bottled lemon juice, from concentrate
1/2 cup XV olive oil
1 tbs. Rogan Josh seasoning
1 tbs. liquid smoke
2 tbs. Worchestershire sauce
4 cloves crushed garlic
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Prepare the marinade in a mixing bowl and whisk to incorporate. Place the kabobs and the marinade in a deep 9×13″ baking dish, ensuring that the kabobs are evenly coated. Cover tightly and marinate in your fridge for at least six hours, but best overnight. Rotate the kabobs every few hours so they marinate evenly.

Prepare a hot fire on your Weber® 22″ grill. When coals are white hot, level them and place the kabobs directly over them. If you remove the kabobs from the fridge and let them warm up a bit before grilling they will not stick to the grate. The olive oil and lemon juice will flame up when it contacts the hot coals. This is normal and will add great seared flavor.

Reserve the marinade in a dish. Cover the grill and cook the kabobs for about three minutes a side, basting with the reserved marinade and rotating the kabobs evenly for a total of about twelve minutes. The beef should firm up and the juices will run clear when ready. DO NOT brush on the marinade during the last few minutes of cooking time, due to the raw meat juice coming back in contact with cooked meat.

Remove from the grill and serve immediately with seasoned rice or corn.

Serves 4

Irene’s “Best Ever” Noodle Casserole


This is a simple recipe from my grandmother, and dates from before WWII.  It is savory and easily prepared for a busy mid-week supper.

Ingredients:

1/2 lb. egg noodles – cooked al dente
1 medium onion – chopped
2 stalks celery – chopped
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes with juice
1 7 oz. can mushrooms, stems and pieces with juice
1 10.5 oz. can tomato soup
Salt, pepper, paprika to taste
1 lb. ground beef
3 tbs. butter

Directions:

Saute the onion and celery in butter until just tender. Add the ground beef and cook until no longer pink. Add the tomatoes and mushrooms with their juices and the tomato soup. DO NOT add water.

Season and stir in the cooked noodles. Bake covered in a 5 quart covered dutch oven at 325° F. for 1 hour.
If the casserole looks like it has too much liquid, cook for an additional 15 minutes.

Serves 6-8