Sunday, February 9, 2014


Over the past couple of weekends I have tried to dedicate some time to smoking so I could restock my supply in the freezer that Mandy and I have been using for week night meals over the past couple of months. This process has really paid off because I don't have a lot of time during the week to fire up the smoker or even the grill most nights, so having pre-made meals in the freezer that are homemade, is a life saver.  

So on Friday I picked up a packer brisket with the idea that I would smoke it and cut it down for use in several different dishes, as well as some leftovers to satisfy my brisket tooth when needed.  This one started out at 12lbs untrimmed, and after I cut off most of fat leaving only a 1/4 inch cap on top of the briket, I had around a pound of trimmings.  I saved those for use later, I can render the fat, or grind it into a lean cut for burgers.  I will most likely render it for tallow and add it to my collection of fats for cooking!

Before I put the rub on the brisket I cut cross hatches into the fat cap down to the meat in order to allow the fat to render off, but also allow the rub to get down to the meat.  I did a very simple rub this time of sea salt, pepper, and paprika.  I also used a couple tablespoons of bacon fat to rub into the fat cap to add a different flavor profile, and well, its bacon, so do I even need to explain?

I put it in the fridge overnight and pulled it out yesterday morning to allow it to come to room temperature while I brought the smoker up to temperature.  When I smoke I usually use natural lump charcoal mixed with almond wood logs to maintain heat and impart smoke, but I didn't have any charcoal so I only used almond wood this time.  Starting a wood fire without charcoal is a challenge, and takes a little longer to get the smoker up to temperature, but it isn't impossible.  I put two logs in the fire box and placed some brown paper bags crumpled up underneath the wood to use for a fire starter.  I also opened the side vent to allow air flow.  I lit the bags and let them do the work.  After 30 minutes the logs were burning steadily, so I closed the lids to start bringing up the temp on the smoker.  

It has always taken longer to bring up the temperature of the smoker, and control the heat when I only use wood, but it is manageable with patience.  Once the smoker was ready (250 degrees) I put in the brisket and closed the lid.  Now unless I have other items I am going to smoke, this is typically the last time I open the lid until just about the time I am ready to pull the brisket to cut off the top of the point for burnt ends.  

Since this was an 11lb brisket, I knew it was going to take about 12hrs to complete.  I also decided since I had plenty of smoke rolling I would go for round two of the smoked apple pie, which came out amazing! 

At 10hrs I pulled the brisket and removed the cap of the point to cube up for burnt ends.  I put the brisket back on and and the burnt ends on the top rack to finish.  

Finally, after 12hrs the moment of truth had arrived, and after letting the meat rest for 20 minutes while I cooked up some sides for dinner, I cut into the brisket.. It was amazing, cooked perfectly, and the bark was fantastic!

Now I can make some brisket stew, burnt end chili, brisket mac and cheese, and some slices for sandwiches.