Saturday, September 04, 2010

The Texas BBQ Brisket Feast

It started with a bargain on brisket...from that, it led to a memorable feast.

Blackened but good. Brisket after 12 hours of smoking
Sizzling, smokey longaniza sausages

It started with a bargain on brisket... Mercado Soriana had a whole brisket, weighing nearly 8 kilos, for about $380 MXN, or $29 USD. Because we were anticipating the immediate delivery of a new, 15 cubic foot chest freezer from Costco, I went ahead and bought the brisket.

The question was how to use it. I'd already done the corned beef thing, a process which takes some 2 weeks plus cooking, and while it's worth doing, I wanted something different. With the end of August coming up, and many friends in the Pátzcuaro area, I decided to smoke it.

I did Internet research on the process, and was able to glean the best ideas while discarding the grotesque ones (like basting with Coca-Cola).

I won't detail the simple enough but patience-straining steps, except to say that the first stage was to apply a dry rub spice mix, something like this, from a poster on

Keep it simple, Texas style. Rub with kosher salt, cracked black pepper, maybe a little 
garlic powder and a little cayenne

Or this:
*4 tablespoons salt
*1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
*3/4 teaspoon dried coriander/cilantro
*2 teaspoons dry mustard
*2 tablespoons brown sugar
*2 teaspoons garlic powder
*2 teaspoons dried basil ??
*2 teaspoons onion powder
*1/2 teaspoon dried savory
*1 teaspoon black pepper
I modified it, to end up with something like this:
Coarse sea salt, coriander seeds, black peppercorns, brown sugar, garlic powder (the first and only time I've used this in many years); pimentón picante, hot red pepper flakes, and smokey pimentón dulce. All was ground up in a powerful blender. The effect is very similar to the rub used to cure pastrami.

After rubbing the meat, it was left to cure for about 24 hours in a bag in the fridge.

Thursday night before smoking on Friday, we set up our Kingsford Barrel Cooker/smoker with locally sourced lump charcoal to the right, leaving two cooking grates on the left.

The fire was lit at 4:30 a.m. on Friday, a day before the party.
When the fire became gray ashed, Doña Cuevas (The Queen of the Fire Pit) added small, soaked branches of apple wood. That was a gift from our frend, Ron Granich. We inserted the remote digital thermometer (also from Ron) into the thick part of the brisket, and sat back to watch and tend the fire over the next 12 hours. There was a foil lined roasting pan with water below the meat. At about 6 or 8 hours, I started basting it with dark Indio cerveza. At intervals we catnapped.

Because we were new to this, we had a lot of doubts and inhaled a lot of smoke, but amazingly, the results were very successful. At 5:15 p.m. our friend, Barbara came by and urged us to sample a slice. I cut a few small slices from the thinner, well smoke point end. They were intense but delicious. Then, following suggestions from a discussion on Chowhound, I wrapped the meat in heavy aluminum foil and dropped it into an ice chest for two hours to continue cooking from internal heat.

That completed, I removed it but left it in the foil wrapping to cool and repose overnight. The dripping pan liquids were saved to use both for reheating and for sauce making.

My basic sauce was this one:

14 oz ketchup 
1 cup cider vinegar 
1/2 cup worcestershire sauce 
2 tbs yellow mustard 
2 tbs lemon juice 
1 tbs chili powder 
2 tbs paprika 
1 tsp crushed red pepper 
1 tsp black pepper 
1 tsp dark brown sugar (I used 2 or 3 small piloncillo buttons instead)
1/3 cup brisket or bacon drippings (optional-I made good use of the brisket drippings) 
3 cups water (didn't need water, as the drippings hada lot of water already.)
1 12 oz can of tomato paste

I did add a large onion, finely chopped and several cloves of garlic, finely minced. They were sweated in a small amount of vegetable oil, then the rest of the ingredients added. This was cooked on a low flame for about 15-20 minutes. Some was set aside for further heightening of the picante factor. The containers were carefully labelled. But, in my opinion, even the hottest sauce wasn't that intense.

To reheat the brisket, an hour before serving time, I preheated the oven to 350º F. I sliced the brisket into serving sized thinnish slices. Meanwhile, I reheated some of the pan liquid, and mixed in about 1/3rd apple juice to cut the intense smoke flavor a little. The whole pan was covered with aluminum foil and placed in the oven. It came out succulent and aromatic.

The grill was fired up again so that the longanizas could be smoke-cooked, even briefly. Ron took a hand in this, using the digital probe thermometer to get the lengths of sausage to a nice char on the outside and still juicy inside.

Everything was enjoyed, and for us, this may have been one of the best  and successful feasts we'd ever prepared.

The Texas BBQ Brisket Menu
(A Co-operative Feast for about 12 guests)
August 28, 2010
(Brought by Guests indicated by *)
Jícama sticks with homemade Chamoy Salsa* (Plum Sauce pluce Salsa de Chile de Árbol) 
Guacamole con tostadas *
Ensalada de Nopalitos *
Twelve-Hour Smoked Brisket
BBQ Sauces in three octanes
Smokey Longaniza Sausages cooked on the grill.
Frijoles Charros con Queso
Assorted breads; teleras, baguettes.*
Potato Salad
Health Salad
Home made Kosher Dill Pickles spears
Escabeche de Verduras y Chiles
Chiles Jalapeños (canned)
Sliced Onions
Ham Salad *
Potato Salad *
Pasta Salad with Clams *
Lasaña Mexicana a la Bandera *
Fruit Cobbler, Ice Cream *
Agua de Jamaica
Cerveza *
Cokes *
Coffee and Tea 
Brisket at Mercado Soriana.
Longaniza at Cremería Lidia, Carretera Pátzcuaro a Morelia at Manzanillal.
Carbón from local suppliers of Coenembo.
Apple wood branches, from a dead tree on Gringo Hill.


Dan in NC said...

Thanks for the inspiration! I was wondering what to do for a Labor Day get together! I'm sitting, slurping coffee, and salivating over your FAB brisket! Congrats on the 5 years, and thanks for ALL the pictures!
Dan in NC

GlorV1 said...

Wow that was indeed a very good meal. I mean I am totally hungry now. Great job and I sure do like the way it looks when chopped. Better the next day too. I have to look at the photos of the bbq. Thanks for sharing.

Steve Cotton said...

I'm driving down right now. Fork and knife in hand.

Don Cuevas said...

Steve; the remains are in the freezer, but if you come, we'll make you a big sandwich. We'll even heat it first. ;-)

We do these dinner/get togethers (although not always as many people nor as extensive a menu) about every 30 days. So, if you were in the area, you'd be invited.)

Don Cuevas

Lesley said...

Yum! It looks amazing. And what a feast! I've never made my own brisket before, but you've made it sound doable. Will have to keep my eyes peeled for deals.