© Copyright 1995-2017, Clay Irving <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Manhattan Beach, CA USA
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Recipe from: Chile Pepper Magazine, Sep/Oct 1990
Most barbecue in Texas revolves around beef, and more specifically, brisket. When you select your brisket, choose only "packer trimmed" briskets in the ten to twelve pound category. The smalller briskets don't have enought fat to tenderize them, and the larger ones could have come off of a tough old range bull that no amount of cooking will ever tenderize. Avoid closely trimmed or "value packed" brisket pieces. The fat that was cut off to make 'em pretty is the very stuff that would have made them tender! All briskets have a fat cover on one side. Ignore this! Squeeze the thick end with both thumbs. When you've found the brisket with the smallest fat kernel, that's the one for you. Take it home and build your fire. While your fire is getting going—I build mine out of a mixture of mesquite and oak—rub your brisket with a dry "rub." [See Red's Dry Rub recipe] Make sure that the meat is thoroughly coated. This helps seal the meat, and adds a flavorful crust.
10 pounds beef brisket
Thoroughly coat all surfaces of the brisket with lemon juice, and rub in well. Sprinkle dry rub generously all over the brisket, rubbing in well. Make sure that the brisket is entirely covered.
When the wood has burned down, move the coals to one side of the pit, place the meat away from the direct heat, fat side up (let gravity and nature do the basting), and close the pit. Some people add a pan of water near the coals to provide added moisture, but I don't. Now, don't touch the meat for 12 hours. Just drink a few beers, cook a pot of beans, and tend your fire. You'd like to hold the cooking temperature around 210°F. in the brisket cooking area. Since "helpers" usually show up at the first whiff of smoke, you probably ought to put some of your leftover rub on a couple of racks of pork ribs and toss them on the pit, in the hotter end, and baste and turn 'em for four and five hours, just to keep the animals at bay. Meanwhile, see Red's Prize Winnin' Pintos recipe to keep you busy.
Back at the pit, after the twelve hours are completed, generously slather the brisket with a basting sauce (not a barbecue sauce), wrap it tightly in aluminum foil, and return to the pit. [See Red's Basting Sauce recipe] Close off all of the air supplies to the fire, and allow the meat to "set" in the pit for three or four hours. This really tenderizes the meat.
Serve your brisket with beans, cole slaw, Jalepenos, onions, pickles, and plenty of bread. Cold beer or iced tea are the traditional beverages of choice.
You'll find that a ten-pound brisket will yield about 8 to 16 servings, depending on the individual brisket, and the size of the appetites of the guests.
Red Caldwell is a freelance cook and food writer based in San Marcos, Texas. He is a fifteen-year veteran of competitive cooking—chili cookoffs, barbecue, and mountain oysters. His cookbook, Pit, Pot, and Skillet, has been released by Corona Publishing of San Antonio, Texas.