I received a message from one of our HS members to put up a smoking BBQ thread on HS.
His request was as follows:
Would you consider starting a thread on Hornsport that explained step by step how you smoke & prepare different meat cuts.
Please be very elementary in your explanations.
Also please give a list of the minimum equipment- smoker type, thermometers, rubs, temps, time, etc.
I love bbq but have NO cooking skills. Now that I have the time, I would like to become somewhat proficient at it.
Seems fairly basic, but in actuality, it's quite a complex request.
Let's start at the end, as you have said a mouthful.
You say you now have time and you want to become proficient at smoking? That is a great combination of desire and time on your hands, both of which you will need.
In order to become proficient, you absolutely must practice. It is like anything else. That's not to say that you can't throw on a brisket and have it turn out just fine the very first time. You most certainly can. The trick is getting that 10th, 40th, 100th brisket to be as good or better than the one(s) that you smoked before it. Some improvements are only going to be noticeable to you, other improvements will be very apparent to everyone else.
Keep in mind: YOU WILL SCREW SOMETHING UP.....AT LEAST ONCE. Don't worry about it-it happens to all of us.
Now that we have established that you're going to screw it up, let's get down to business.
I would encourage all of our HS BBQ Pitmasters to chime in on this thread. Give us some of your expertise. I think this could be a great thread for all of our HS members, from novice to pro.
I'm no expert. I'm proficient. I've ruined my share of smoked items over the years. It happens. I've also learned quite a bit over the years. I'll share with you whatever I can.
PART 2-Rubs/Brines/Presmoke Tips
Seasoning the Brisket: I feel like this is a very important piece to smoking any cut of meat. How you choose to season it will directly affect the finished product, in a big way. Too much salt-you WILL taste it. Too much cayenne-get a glass of milk. So let's talk about how I do it, and some of the products available out there.
Dry Rubs: I make my own dry rub for briskets. I use about 45% cracked black pepper, 45% kosher salt, 10% chili powder. Pretty basic, but I've found that the simplicity makes it easy to make, as well as produces a nice flavor for the bark. Here's a photo of a 1# jar of my rub.
You can go to any store and find a large sampling of dry rubs. I have tried many. You can get these at your grocery store, local BBQ restaurant, butcher shop or sporting goods/outdoors store-Academy, Bass Pro, Cabella's. Some you'll have to order online.
A few of my favorites are:
- Bad Byron's Butt Rub
- Rudy's BBQ Rub
- Cooper's BBQ Rub
- Anita's Brisket Seasoning
- Stubb's BBQ Rub
- Salt Lick Garlic BBQ Rub.
All are pretty solid. You may have your own that you prefer. There's no right or wrong answer. It's all up to you. Some are sweeter than others. Try a bunch of them, and decide which is best for the flavor you're looking for.
Brines: I have used brines in the past. I like using these, especially Sweetwater Spice Co. Brisket Bath or their Tres Chiles brine.
This product is a brine concentrate. You mix it with water and soak your cut of meat in it for an hour per pound. I typically will use a Glad Turkey Brine Bag, (found at your local grocer,) (make sure you pay attention to the size limitation for the bag-printed on the box!! Nothing worse than getting home and trying to put a 13# brisket into a bag that holds 8#s of meat; trust me from experience!) Put the meat in the bag, add the concentrate, add the water, seal the bag, place in an aluminum pan in the fridge for the recommended time. When it's time to pull the meat out, SAVE the brine. You will now strain the brine and save the spices. Take the spices and rub the brisket with this spice paste. VERY IMPORTANT: YOU WILL NOT NEED ANY DRY RUB OR FURTHER SEASONING!
One of our very own Longhorns, Scott, (caliHORNia on OBs,) makes these products. He has several flavors, and they can be found at Academy and Whole Foods, or on his website, http://www.sweetwaterspice.com/ I highly recommend his products. They are easy to use, and produce a great flavor on whatever you're smoking or grilling. Give them a try.
Start: I will take my cryovaced packer brisket and rinse it off well under the faucet cool water. Make sure to get any blood, and any loose pieces of meat/fat off the brisket at this time. Don't soak it in a sink full of water, just rinse it off well. Don't be afraid to get your hands dirty!
Trimming: I have tried several ways of getting a brisket prepared. Prior to seasoning, trimming the fat is often beneficial. Understanding that every brisket is different, trimming is not set in stone. I shoot for ~1/4" fat on the top of the brisket and I remove the really dense chunk of fat on the bottom that sits on the edge just under the cap. There are many YouTube videos on this, and some say to cut off more than others. I am a fan of trimming just enough off of the brisket, as the fat will render into the meat and help with moisture. Just search on YouTube under "Trimming a Brisket" and you'll get several hits. Watch a few, and see how they do it. Again, try different things until you find what works for you.
Rub: As we discussed the rubs above, there are several ways to go about applying your rub. Again, I've tried many. I've used French's mustard and olive oil rubbed on the brisket prior to applying the dry rub. I don't think there's any real benefit to this, but you can do it if you feel you want to give it a try. I used to do this pretty regularly, and found that it did not affect the flavor of the finished product, and the rub stays on the damp brisket just fine without it. When you get ready to apply the dry rub, get you an aluminum (disposable) half steamtable pan. Place your brisket in the pan. Wash & dry your hands, and get you some plastic disposable foodservice gloves on. This keeps your hands somewhat clean throughout the rub process and keeps salt/pepper/cayenne from getting onto your skin. Take the bottle of rub and shake it somewhat liberally over the meat in a left to right and top to bottom motion. Don't put too much on, but a medium coating. Rub the entire brisket top with this, then flip the brisket over in the pan, and repeat the process. Be sure to get the rub onto the sides of the brisket as well as on the ends. Aaron Franklin has a good video on this process.
Brine: If you've brined your brisket with the concentrate, this is the time to put the brisket in a half pan, rub with the spice paste and let it sit out until your fire is ready.
Fire & Temp of the meat: At this point in the process, I go and get the pit fired up. I'll let the brisket sit out on the counter until the fire is ready. Some folks say keep it in the fridge, I don't subscribe to this philosophy. It's OK for the brisket to sit out at room temp for a half hour to an hour, even more if you'd like. It will be fine.
In PART 3: Building your fire, getting the pit ready, smoking the brisket.