A tasty and authentic smoked Texas brisket, perfectly seasoned and juicy. Started in an off-set smoker and finished in the oven yields a succulent, perfect brisket. If you ever wanted to learn how to smoke brisket, this recipe may be for you.
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Texas is about to happen friends. I may be in Utah but I will forever LOVE Texas BBQ. There’s nothing else like it that I have found. In Texas, smoked BBQ is always accompanied by country music and beer. If you are ordering in a BBQ restaurant, whole peanuts are usually served as an appetizer where you just throw the shells on the floor. No kidding, Texans love to sweep floors.
If you want to learn how to smoke brisket, this recipe may be for you.
My history with BBQ
I grew up in Southern California where BBQ usually meant putting chicken on the lighter fluid-fueled BBQ and brushing on bottled BBQ sauce. The result was a charred outside and barely cooked inside with a hint of lighter fluid aftertaste. Served with supermarket potato salad and slaw. At least that’s what we did in my family. At the time, I thought this was the bomb diggety. I have come so far from my childhood BBQ roots.
North Carolina BBQ
As a young adult, I enlisted in the Army and was sent to Ft. Bragg, North Carolina after basic training. North Carolina BBQ was a culture shock to me. It is very much its own culture. It resembles nothing like any BBQ I have ever experienced before. Smoked pulled pork is served with a watery sauce of tomato, vinegar and spices. I think the real draw is the numerous side dishes such as collard greens, black eyed peas, corn, banana pudding, fried okra, hush puppies, macaroni & cheese, corn pudding and 20 more items. This is what you get when you order ‘BBQ’. Oh, I almost forgot…sweet tea. North Carolina has the best iced tea I have ever had. They sweeten the tea while its brewed so you don’t get sugar granules collecting at the bottom of your glass. The taste is amazing too!
Whole suckling pig BBQ is the traditional way in the Carolinas but lately pork shoulder has become the norm. Both are slowly smoked on a large, oil drum style smoker, started in the wee hours of the morning. North Carolina style BBQ crosses the border a bit into Northeastern South Carolina but then changes into its own South Carolina thang. Pulled pork is still the norm but ribs are sometimes served as well. The watery, vinegary sauce is replaced with a more traditional tomato based BBQ sauce and sometimes a mustard sauce is served, a nod to the German immigrant influence.
After being transferred to Austin, Texas, it wasn’t long before being baptized into Texas BBQ. You don’t just order ‘BBQ’ like in North Carolina, you actually order your meats & sides and order your tea either sweetened or un-sweetened. Sometimes there is just un-sweetened and you have to add your sweetener, *sigh, I do miss that Carolina sweet tea though.
The meats are smoked slowly with a dry rub and served with peppery, traditional BBQ sauce on the side. BBQ is a serious issue in Texas. Each proprietor having their own secret methods, rubs and sauces, with recipes taken to the grave, sometimes not even handed down. The meats are usually brisket, ribs and sausage. Chicken and pork is actually rare in Texas BBQ. The sides typically are homemade potato salad, macaroni salad, slaw, corn on the cob and sliced sandwich bread.
I am actually still investigating this culture. I actually haven’t figured out Utah BBQ. So far, I have found and tried Utahs version of Texas-style BBQ and Polynesian BBQ. I’m not sure Utah has put its own stamp on BBQ cuisine. If you have any insight into Utah BBQ, please leave a comment.
I felt like the luckiest girl in Utah when I brought home an oil barrel-style BBQ with off-set smoker. I was determined to learn how to smoke and bring a little bit of Texas to Utah. I was inspired by Dad Cooks Dinner to jump in and make some magic happen. He is always BBQ-ing and making me hungry and homesick for the Lone Star State.
Texas Style Smoked Brisket
Brisket is so easy to get wrong, ending up with a dry, chewy shoe leather. I don’t like to take any chances so the method I came up with is to brine the meat first, then rub with pepper and paprika, then slow cook in the smoker for 2-3 hours on low heat. I finish the brisket in the oven at 200F after pouring some pineapple juice on it, covered with aluminum foil. This allows for capturing some of the fat that would have dripped away in the smoker, allowing the pineapple juice to slightly sweeten the meat and a basis for steaming the partially cooked brisket. The result is a perfectly seasoned, smokey, juicy cut of meat that is out of this world.
Brining is your friend, friends. It changes the shape of the proteins in the meat allowing the water and salt to penetrate, hydrating the meat and seasoning it perfectly by drawing salt into the meat. It sounds like a lot of salt but the actual amount of salt is much less than if you salt the meat after. It’s only a small amount of salt that penetrates the meat but because the salt is inside the meat, it tastes like much more salt than is really there. So don’t be afraid of brining, just remember to rinse your meat after the brining step. This is a perfect option for any meat that is known for being dry such as chicken & turkey breasts, brisket, pork loins etc.
Using my good ole chimney starter, I am able to activate my charcoal without using yucky lighter fluid. As you can see this is a well loved chimney starter from my Girl Scout Leader days when we cooked over charcoal using a dutch oven, cause that’s what scouts do, dutch oven cooking.
If you are new to this type of charcoal starting you just fill the chimney with charcoal and stuff the newspaper underneath. Light it with a match and wait 10-15 minutes. You may have to put more newspaper underneath.
You will know your charcoal is ready when you see some of the briquettes at the top turn ash gray on the edges. When this happens simply pour the charcoal into your off-set smoking chamber and place some wood on top for smoking. I use fruit wood because I get this free from the farm but you can also use mesquite, hickory or pecan. Alternatively if you don’t have this style of smoker, pour the charcoal onto one side of your BBQ and create a hot side and a cool side. Don’t forget the wood! Preheat your BBQ for 15 minutes, clean your grates with a wire brush or scraper, coat the grates with either cooking oil using tongs with a paper towel or cooking spray. Now you’re ready to put your brisket on. Easy peasy.
Go ahead, jump in! You CAN do it!!
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