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

Spicy Smoked Salsa Roja


Spicy Smoked Salsa Roja

Here’s a Southwest salsa recipe with a unique twist – the tomatoes, peppers, garlic and onion are smoked over wood chips for two hours. The result adds an entirely new dimension to a traditional red salsa. If you have access to an electric smoker, you’ll have better results with more control, due to the built-in thermostat — but using a traditional covered grill with offset heat is just fine.

The final product will be reduced by about half, due to the water content rendering out during the smoking process. Roma tomatoes are preferred because they have, on average, the lowest percentage of water. The garlic and onion will mellow to a wonderful, earthy flavor. You can use any hard or fruit wood – I’ve found that hickory or applewood works best. If using mesquite, use reservation as it can quickly turn bitter.  Enjoy!

Ingredients:

3 tbs. XV olive oil
8-10 large Roma tomatoes – cored and halved
2 large garden Hot Hungarian wax peppers – trimmed, seeded and cut in 2″ chunks
2-4 mature red garden jalapeño peppers – trimmed and halved, with seeds and membrane left intact
1-2 small garden habañero peppers – trimmed (optional)
1/2 red onion – cut in four pieces with the layers separated
4 large cloves garlic (peeled)

1 cup washed cilantro leaves
Juice from 1/8 lemon wedge (optional)
1-2 tsp. salt, to taste

 

Directions:

Carefully wash the tomatoes and peppers and prepare with a sharp knife. Add to a large mixing bowl with the onion and garlic. Add the olive oil and toss lightly to coat.

Prepare an outdoor electric smoker by preheating it to 275-degrees F. Place the water pan in the bottom, but leave it empty. You can line it with foil for easy cleanup. Seal the door. When preheated, place the mixed tomatoes, peppers, onion and garlic in a perforated grill pan directly on a center rack above the water pan. Seal the door and add one cup of wood chips to the chip loader. Smoke for two hours, replenishing the chip loader ONCE after 45 minutes. Do not over smoke.

When finished, turn off the unit and remove the contents from the perforated grill pan and place in a food processor. You’ll need to work in batches. Pulse until the desired consistency is achieved. Add the cilantro and pulse again. Transfer to serving bowl and salt to your preference. Add the lemon juice. Mix well, let stand for 20 minutes and serve with blue corn tortilla chips.

Makes about 2.5 cups
Preparation time: 1/2 hour
Smoke time: 2 hours
Rest time: 20 minutes
Cerveza time: Whenever the hell you feel like it

Fresh-picked garden tomatoes, Hungarian wax peppers and jalapenos.

Fresh-picked garden tomatoes, Hungarian wax peppers and jalapenos.

The smoked salsa ingredients after hour one.

The smoked salsa ingredients after hour one.

Spicy Smoked Salsa Rojo

The ingredients shown after the second hour. For this recipe, I used Jack Daniels’ Whiskey Barrel smoker chips.

Jeff Phillips’ Smoked Meatloaf


Jeff Phillips' Smoked Meatloaf

The meatloaf was smoked on a silicone smoker mat purchased from QVC. It has really come in handy for a variety of recipes including fish and pork chops.

This is a recipe from smoked foodie author Jeff Phillips. Jeff really knows his way around BBQ – I followed the recipe exactly and it was an instant success.
I’ve included links for his book, as well as his rub and sauce recipes.

Ingredients:
1 lb ground chuck (80/20)
1 lb ground breakfast sausage, hot or regular
1/2 cup bell pepper (yellow, green, red mixed), diced
1/2 cup yellow onion, diced (1 small onion)
1/2 cup celery, diced
2 TBS olive oil
2 slices of loaf bread or a hamburger bun top and bottom
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
Jeff’s barbecue sauce recipe (purchase recipes here)
Jeff’s original rub recipe (purchase recipes here)

 

Preparation:
Step 1: Soak Bread

Take two slices of loaf bread or the top and bottom half of a bun and tear it into small pieces.
With the bread in a small bowl, pour ½ cup of buttermilk over the bread. The bread will soak up the buttermilk and this will be part of what makes the meatloaf so moist.
Once the milk is soaked in, crack a couple of large eggs onto the bread mixture. Stir gently to combine.
Set aside

Step 2: Saute Vegetables

Dice bell peppers, onion and celery so that you end up with about ½ cup of each.
If you have extra, place them in a zip top bag and place them in the freezer for later.
Put 2 TBS of olive oil into a skillet over medium heat.
Once the pan is hot enough, pour in the onions, peppers and celery and stir to mix with the oil.
Let them cook for about 10 minutes or until the vegetables start to get slightly soft.
Once the veggies are finished cooking, remove them from the pan and into a plate or bowl to cool.
Add ½ cup of Jeff’s barbecue sauce and 3 TBS of Jeff’s rub to the sautéed vegetables. Stir to combine.

Step 3: Mix the Meatloaf

Place the 1 pound of ground chuck and 1 pound of ground sausage into a large mixing bowl.
Add the bread, buttermilk and egg mixture to the top of the meat.
Add the vegetable, sauce and rub mixture to the top of the meat as well.
Add 1 teaspoon of salt to the top of the mixture and gently combine the ingredients together.
Do not overmix. Do just enough to combine and stop. Overworking the meatloaf mixture will make it tough.

Step 4: Form Into a Loaf

Pour or scoop the mixture onto a cookie sheet, food grade butcher paper, etc. and form into a loaf with your hands.
You can also place the mixture into a loaf pan to form it and then dump it out onto the pan, rack or tray that you will use to cook it.
You will notice that this mixture may be a little wetter than what you are used to using but that’s ok. It will form and hold together just fine.
I recommend about 2 inches thick in the shape of a rectangle but you can get creative with this if you like.
If using a Bradley rack, I recommend placing a piece of wax paper under the meat so it will be easier to remove once done.

Step 5: Smoke the Meatloaf

Set up your smoker for cooking at about 225-240°F using indirect heat with hickory smoke or whatever smoking wood you have available.
If your smoker has a water pan, I recommend that you use it.
Once your smoker is maintaining the proper temperature, the cooking can commence.
Place the meatloaf in the smoker.
Let the loaf cook for 3-4 hours or until it reaches about 155°F.

Step 6: Top with Sauce

At about 155°F, brush the top and sides of the meatloaf with plenty of Jeff’s barbecue sauce. Give it about 25-30 minutes to caramelize then remove from the smoker.
Finish temperature for meatloaf is actually 160°F but knowing that it will continue to cook and rise in temperature even after being removed from the smoker, it is ok to remove it a few degrees early.

Step 7: Rest and Serve

Once the meat is brought into the house, tent some foil over the top and let it rest for 15-20 minutes before slicing and serving. This resting period gives the juices in the meat time to redistribute throughout the meat.

 

Helpful Tips:
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 3-4 hours
Smoker temperature: 240°F
Meat Finish temperature: 160°F
Recommended wood: Hickory or Apple

Blackberry-Bourbon Smoked Pork Loin


Blackberry-Bourbon Smoked Pork Loin over Apple Wood

Apple-smoked blackberry-bourbon pork loin — sliced and super-juicy.

This is a recipe loosely based on a New York Times article given to me by a friend.  I have heavily modified it to complement ingredients readily available in most kitchens.

You can also smoke this on a standard charcoal grill – ensure that you control the heat so it maintains an even smoke — any higher than 225°F and you risk overcooking the loin. The glaze is stunning — a combination of sweetness, slight heat and acidity brought out by the blackberries, bourbon, chipotle, lemon juice and balsamic vinegar.

Ingredients:

1 pork loin roast – about 2.5 – 3 pounds with fat cap
Juice of 1/2 lemon
3 tbs. honey
6 level tbs. brown sugar
1 tsp. ground hot Chipotle powder
2 tsp. roasted garlic granules
1 tbs. smoked paprika
1 tbs. fresh-ground black pepper
2 tsp. coarse Kosher salt
5 tbs. premium Bourbon (a splash more than 1/4 cup)
12 oz. frozen packaged blackberries (fresh market preferred)
1/3 cup chile sauce
2 tbs. balsamic vinegar

2 cups Apple wood chips for smoking

Directions:

Place the pork loin in an oblong shallow baking tray and set aside in the fridge.  Place the glaze ingredients in a blender and pulse until smooth. Remove and place in a heavy, non-reactive sauce pan over medium heat. Stir and simmer until sugars are dissolved and the liquid reduced – about 45 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
Pour the glaze over the pork loin and cover with plastic wrap. Place back in the fridge for at least three hours.

Preheat a smoker at 225° F. Line the drip pan with foil and oil the smoker grate with a bit of non-stick cooking spray. The loin will take roughly 1 hour per pound at the temperature shown. Place the loin on the smoking grate with the fat side up. Close and lock the door and add one cup of apple wood chips the first and second hour.
Place the probe in the thickest part of the loin after hour 1. When the internal temperature reads 140°F, remove the loin and let sit in a covered roaster pan for 1/2 hour.

Slice and serve.
Serves 4-6

Blackberry-Bourbon Smoked Pork Loin over Apple Wood

The pork loin after 2 hours. Internal temperature is 140°F. Remove and let stand for 1/2 hour, covered, before slicing.

Blackberry-Bourbon Smoked Pork Loin over Apple Wood

Of humble beginnings. The glaze ingredients in a blender.

Blackberry-Bourbon Smoked Pork Loin over Apple Wood

The loin glazed with a blackberry-bourbon brown sugar sauce.

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 Smoked BBQ Baby-Back Ribs


Smoked babyback ribs

This is a recipe based on the 3-2-1 smoker preparation method. I cannot take credit for it, and have spent many hours perfecting it based on time-tested techniques posted by others.
A dry rub is applied to choice baby back ribs which are smoked for three hours, then basted and braised for two hours, then basted and heated for an additional hour at a constant temperature.  An electric smoker takes the guesswork and hassle out of the preparation.

The result is amazing. Serve with grilled corn, baked beans and coleslaw on the side.

 

Ingredients:

2 full racks Swift-Premium® Baby Back Ribs
BBQ spice rub (may I suggest my own handcrafted blend)
Apple juice
BBQ sauce
Hickory chips for smoking

 

Preparation:

Cut each full rack of ribs in half and then remove the membrane from the concave side. Use a paper towel to help grip the membrane – slowly pull it off like a decal.
It is important to do this so the rub will penetrate the meat.

Generously shake your choice of BBQ rub on both sides of the ribs. Gently press so the rub sticks to the meat.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 12-24 hours.

The next day, prepare an electric smoker by adding two cups of apple juice to the drip tray. Seal the door and preheat to 225°F. Wipe a small amount of peanut oil or nonstick cooking spray on the smoker grates so the ribs don’t stick. When the smoker is preheated, place the ribs on the smoker grates and seal the door. Add one cup of hickory wood chips to the chip loader the first three hours of smoking. No peeking! You lose heat every time the door is opened.

Rotate the smoking grates so the ribs closest to the top of the smoker box are placed near the bottom and the bottom grate is placed at the top after the first hour.

AFTER THE THIRD HOUR:
Remove the ribs from the rack and baste generously with your choice of BBQ sauce. Two of my personal favorites are Stubb’s and Famous Dave’s. Place in a covered enameled baking pan with two cups of apple juice.
Cover tightly and cook in the smoker (NO SMOKE) for two additional hours. Rotate the ribs in the pan after the fourth hour.

AFTER THE FIFTH HOUR:
Remove the ribs from the covered baking pan and baste again with BBQ sauce. Bake directly on the smoker grates for one additional hour, until tender, with NO SMOKE.
The meat should easily pull apart when the rib bones are bent at an angle. You’ll also want to ensure the meat has receded slightly from the ends of the rib bones. The bones should have a nice char on the ends. Cover and keep warm until ready in a serving dish.

The smoker should be set at 225°F for the duration of the cooking process. Total cooking time: 6 hours.

Serves 4-6

Mike's babyback rib rub

BBQ hickory wood chips

BBQ hickory smoke

Smoked Mac ‘n’ Cheese


This is a recipe loosely based on John McLemore’s recipe from Dadgum That’s Good!  I thought his version was good, but a tad dry.  I tweaked it by adding buttermilk, two extra spices, Velveeta cheese and BACON. In my humble opinion, every mac ‘n’ cheese recipe should have bacon in it. Indeed — the world is a better place with more cheese and bacon.

For this recipe I use a 30″ Masterbuilt Smoker with an electronic temperature control.  It’s pretty much idiot-proof and the result is amazing.

Don’t be alarmed when half of your neighborhood stops over and asks what that wonderful smell is.  The combination of apple wood smoke, Gouda cheese and bacon is unbeatable.
Enjoy-

 

Ingredients:

One 16-oz. package elbow macaroni or fusilli pasta
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups 2% milk
1 cup buttermilk
One 8-oz. block of cream cheese, cut into chunks
One 8-oz. block of Velveeta® cheese, cut into chunks
1 tsp. Lawry’s seasoned salt, to taste
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. ground white pepper
2 cups extra-sharp shredded cheddar cheese (divided)
2 cups shredded Gouda cheese (divided)
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
4 slices bacon, cooked until crispy, then crumbled

1 cup apple wood chips for smoking
Disposable 11 x 9.5″ aluminum baking pan

 

Directions:

Preheat your smoker to 225° F, and ensure the wood chip holder is inserted (without wood) so the interior of the smoker box stays hot. Completely shut the top vent.

Cook the pasta until just al dente in water with a pinch of salt. Drain well and set aside.

In a medium, heavy saucepan, melt the butter and whisk the flour into the butter. Be careful not to scorch it, and stir constantly. Cook for two minutes until the sauce is bubbly and thick. Slowly whisk in the milk and buttermilk and bring to a low boil. Cook another five minutes until thickened. Add the Lawry’s salt, white pepper, garlic powder and paprika. Stir in the crumbled bacon, cubed cream cheese and Velveeta, and mix until smooth.

In a separate mixing bowl, combine one cup of the sharp cheddar and Gouda cheese and all of the Parmesan cheese, cooked pasta and the cream sauce. Stir gently, then spoon the mixture into a 11 x 9.5″ disposable aluminum baking tray coated generously with non-stick cooking spray. Sprinkle the top with the remaining cup of shredded cheddar and Gouda cheese.

When the smoker is preheated, load the chip holder with apple wood. Place the baking pan on the center rack, seal the door and cook for one hour. Leave the top smoke vent open only 1/4″ for full flavor.

Remove, let set five minutes and serve.

Serves 6.