Smoked Brisket

I thawed a beef brisket and was thinking corned beef but changed my mind.  I have a fresh made pastrami on hand so I decided on a straight smoked brisket.  The procedure is much the same as with making a pastrami except you are starting with a fresh beef beef brisket rather than a corned one.  I suppose you could use the same dry rub for both but I wasn’t sure how the juniper berries in the pastrami rub would taste so I went with a more traditional rub.  I was tossing various ingredients in and didn’t keep track of the amounts of each so I can’t do more than list them from memory:  Black pepper, kosher salt, onion powder, granulated garlic, smoked paprika, ancho powder, regular chili powder, fresh ground cumin, some powder out of a bottle of Goya “Adobo Seasoning” (it’s yellow – go figure), creole/Cajun seasoning, oregano, and probably a few more. I placed it on the top rack of my electric smoker, threaded the temp probe through the vent and into the thickest part, placed a drippings pan with an inch of apple cider under the meat, added the soaked hickory to the smoke chamber, closed the door and fired it up.  It’s been cold and snowy so I knew it would take a good while to get to the “done” temperature but I wasn’t thinking 23 hours.  That’s how long it spent in there before I pulled it.  The probe was registering 176 degrees.DSC_5234 [1600x1200]I pulled the first drippings pan out because I think it was keeping the inside temperature in the smoker too low and replaced it with a dry pan after about 12 hours.  The quart of cider plus the drippings was reduced to what you see above.  If I could make it by the gallon I’m pretty sure I would be a millionaire in short order.  Awesome stuff.


We smoked a home made corned beef yesterday after rubbing on a generous helping of the proper spices, as you can see in the photo above.  That’s after firming up in the fridge overnight for easier slicing.  I suppose I should back up a little.  Pastrami is a smoked chunk of corned meat.  We went with a beef brisket but you can corn (preserve with salt) other meats as well.  Turkey seems to be a popular substitute for beef for making a pastrami, at least in the deli at the local grocery.

There are tons of recipes out there for corning briskets, I went with this one from Alton Brown.The 2 gallon plastic zip bag was a great idea, and Mrs J found a large, shallow, plastic container that held everything nicely.  We let it soak for a week, turning the brisket over daily to make sure the brine got to every part.  I spent several sessions looking for spice recipes for the rub and found too many to recount here.  I ended up going with three main ingredients:  Coarsely ground black pepper, ground coriander seeds, and juniper berries.  The juniper berries were the hardest to find locally but we ran across some in a co-op grocery not far from the Asian food store that we shop regularly.I tried to grind the juniper berries into the meat with the palm of my hand, not sure how better to do it, but the flavor came through.  I gave the berries a spin in the spice grinder first but most of them were still intact.  I used a mix of wood chips for the smoke flavor on this – hickory, apple, and cherry.  With the smoker set to 225 it took about 10 hours to get to 160 internally.  I then wrapped the brisket in several layers of aluminum foil and returned it to the smoker.  It made it to 172 before I decided to remove it due to oncoming rough weather.  (I had the smoker set up in our detached garage.)  One of the questions I researched was “at what temperature is it done”, and found some disagreement.  160 -165 seemed to be the minimum but there were several that said they liked to see it get higher than that.  One fellow said 190 was fine by him.  I figured I could always cook it more if mine wasn’t yet good to go but I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out.I have a decent counter top model slicer and it made short work of the slab.  We ended up with 4 pounds of sliced pastrami.  The uncooked brisket was 5 or 6 pounds, I forgot to make a note of it so I’m just guessing.

Thursday Recipe Exchange: Smokin’

JeffreyW bought a new smoker recently so tonight’s recipes are all his. He wanted me to point out he’s in the experimental stage and open to all kinds of suggestions. He’s smoked ribs (featured below), smoked a chicken (recipes and photos here) and smoked pork (photos and description here and here). EDIT: To add recently posted Pastrami (photos and description here).

I know what I’m doing tonight, although I can’t imagine how it’s going to top the last two nights. Have any exciting plans tonight?  Got any good suggestions for JeffryW’s next smoking endeavor?

From JeffreyW:

I’ve been wanting to get a smoker for a long time and finally pulled the trigger on this one.  I looked around for a while and decided on this model after surfing Amazon reviews.  Almost uniformly excellent reviews, most of them five star.  I can add my first impressions to that list:  It’s a keeper, well built from good materials and seems well thought out.  We fired it up, empty, with some of the included hickory chips to season it as per the directions.  It got hot and we saw smoke rising from the top vent, it seemed good to go.

This morning I placed some cherry wood into the smoke box and turned it on, then loaded two slabs of spare ribs when it reached temperature.  The slabs were a tad too long to fit easily so I cut them in two.  Four hours later they were done.

Pretty good eats!  The smoker did need some cleaning up.

The racks and their hangers all come out for easy cleaning, as did the smoke box.  I was able to scrape the black splatter from the top fairly easily, and a scrub with a green nylon pad put a shine back on it.  The same scrub pad worked well on the interior, and I used a garden hose to flush everything afterwards.  It’ll never be shiny new again but I think I can keep it presentable with minor effort.  Mrs J is thawing a chicken for tomorrow.

Oven Braised Beef Brisket

I saw that the local grocery had beef briskets on sale so I stocked up with several, and some other cuts that seemed fairly cheap – more of the flat iron steaks, and some beef sirloin roasts.  I wanted to cook one of the briskets so I left it out while the rest of the meat went to the big freezer.  Since the Homesick Texan is in our blogroll, I used his recipe.  Mostly.  I cobbled together the rub from various sources.  It has onion powder, garlic powder, ground oregano, black pepper, salt, and cayenne pepper.  Might be something else in there but I’m drawing a blank.  I covered the meat liberally with the rub and set it in the fridge overnight, covered with foil.

The braising liquid is pretty much true to the recipe, as are the fresh chilies on top.  I was slap dash on the amounts but they added up to at least 2 cups of stuff.  I used one onion.  I poured the liquid around the meat and added the onion and the jalapenos then re-covered the pan with foil and let it cook in a 250 oven for over five hours.  It started smelling so good I took it out after that.I transferred the meat from the pan to a board and let is rest for a half hour or so while I de-fatted the sauce and reduced it in a sauce pan by about half.  I have the rest of the brisket in the fridge to chill before I slice it and marry it with the reduced sauce.  I’ll bet it will be better tomorrow.

Sliced the slab and poured the sauce over it, then reheated a portion.  Most Excellent!