Monday, November 10, 2008

Barbecued Beef Brisket For a Charcoal Grill

from the Episode: Barbecued Brisket and Corn Fritters

Cooking a whole brisket, which weighs about 10 pounds, may seem like overkill. However, the process is easy, and the leftovers keep well in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. (Leave leftover brisket unsliced, and reheat the foil-wrapped meat in a 300-degree oven until warm.) Still, if you don’t want to bother with a big piece of meat or if your grill has fewer than 400 square inches of cooking space, barbecuing brisket for less than a crowd is easy to do. Simply ask your butcher for either the point or flat portion of the brisket, whichever cut you prefer. Then follow the master recipe, reducing the spice rub by half and grill-smoking for 1 1/2 hours. Wrap the meat tightly in foil and reduce its time in the oven to 2 hours. No matter how large or small a piece you cook, it’s a good idea to save the juices the meat gives off while in the oven to enrich the barbecue sauce. Hickory and mesquite are both traditional wood choices with brisket.

Serves 18 to 24

Spicy Chili Rub
4 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons table salt
1 tablespoon ground oregano
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon ground white pepper
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

1 whole beef brisket (point and flat cut together), 9 to 11 pounds, fat trimmed to 1/4-inch thickness
3 cups barbecue sauce (store-bought if preferred)
2 wood chunks (3-inch)

1. For Spicy Chili Rub: Mix all ingredients in small bowl.

2. Apply dry rub liberally to all sides of brisket; wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 and up to 48 hours.

3. For Brisket: About 1 hour prior to cooking, remove the brisket from the refrigerator, unwrap, and let it come up to room temperature. Soak the wood chunks in cold water to cover for 1 hour and drain.

4. Meanwhile, light a large chimney starter filled a bit less than halfway with charcoal briquettes (2 1/2 quarts, or about 45 briquettes) and allow to burn until the coals are fully ignited and partially covered with a thin layer of ash. Empty the coals into one side of the grill, piling them up in a mound 2 or 3 briquettes high. Keep the bottom vents completely open. Place the wood chunks on top of the charcoal. Put the cooking grate in place, open the grill lid vents completely, and cover, turning the lid so that the vents are opposite the wood chunks to draw smoke through the grill. Let the grate heat up for 5 minutes and then scrape the grate clean with a grill brush.

5. Position the brisket, fat side up, on the side of the grill opposite the fire. Barbecue, without removing the lid, for 2 hours. (The initial temperature will be about 350 degrees and will drop to 250 degrees after 2 hours.)

6.Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 300 degrees. Attach 2 pieces of heavy-duty foil, 4 feet long, by folding the long edges together 2 or 3 times, crimping tightly to seal well, to form an approximately 4 by 3 foot rectangle. Position the brisket lengthwise in the center of the foil. Bring the short edges over the brisket and fold down, crimping tightly to seal. Repeat with the long sides of the foil to seal the brisket completely. (See illustrations below.) Place the brisket on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until the meat is fork-tender, 3 to 3 1/2 hours.

7. Remove the brisket from the oven, loosen the foil at one end to release steam, and let rest for 30 minutes. If you like, drain the juices into a bowl (see illustration) and defat the juices in a gravy skimmer.

Unwrap the brisket and place it on a cutting board. Separate the meat into two sections and carve it on the bias across the grain into long, thin slices (see illustrations). Serve with plain barbecue sauce or with barbecue sauce that has been flavored with up to 1 cup of the defatted brisket juices.

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