My brother, Sauce Expert (not "sauced expert" but close...more than… - Texas BBQ
May. 31st, 2006
My brother, Sauce Expert (not "sauced expert" but close...more than one sauce at that), & I lit the fire at about midnight over a cold Miller Lite.
I used the Picnic brand lump and to say the least it sucks. Do not buy this lump, its loaded w/ coal dust and even smells like coal when it burns. It produces the crackle and pop you'll hear in a fire place and before you wax nostalgic on me, remember this: Too much of that and you'll have that stuff getting into the smoking chamber and worse it'll foul-up the product with a horrible bitterness. In our case, and my brother will attest to this, it was like sitting under a steel rig with a welding torch going off over head - sparks everywhere.
Since the stores were closed and I was tired of buying stuff, I went w/ that lump and Hickory wood as the fuel of choice. The brisket was a nice 11.75 pounder and the pork butt registered in at 6.6 pounds. The brisket had the nicest fat-cap of the bunch .95 cents p/lb at Tom Thumb, aka "Safeway". We rubbed the brisket down at 11ish and set it out to get to room temp.
My cook-time target for the brisket was 16-18 hours at 225 give or take 20 degrees and for the butt 12 hours at the same temp zone.
2:00 am, the brisket goes on & I hit the sack for a short nap
4:30 am. The fire temp was at about 190, I stoked it back to 250. Then rubbed the pork butt down and hit the sack
7:30 The fire had fallen pretty low to 150 degrees & I didn't like that at all. So I stocked it back to 250 and put the butt on.
30 minute intervals: or so I would add a stick of hickory and some lump to the chamber. The hickory sticks are about 6-8 inches long and about half the diameter of my wrist, for my 15x15' fire box - it seemed to be the right size to get invisible smoke at a low temp.
After a while the lump had burned down. I began adding 1 stick of hickory to the fire every 5-10 minutes. What I wound up with was a small wood only fire that kept it right at 225 with very little temperature variance.
The beer came out at about noon as did the music and kids. It was festive, a mix of me yelling at the boys and some Serbian stuff my brother brought over - oh and Pat Green - can't forget Pat Green.
5:30, the butt was at 165 & we made an executive decision to pull the butt and put it in the oven. I hate to do that, but 2 pregnant women and a 1, 3 & 5 year old will make you do things you otherwise would not. So we put the butt in the oven at 300 degrees for 1 hour.
6:30 the butt was at a succulent 194 degrees - Tim, CSO (Cheif Sauce Officer), pulled the bone out of the middle of the meat and we bagan to pull pork. It was more like helping it fall apart than pulling. We were done after about 2 minutes. Flavor was spot on - hickory is the King baby.
8:30 the brisket registered in at 192. At first glance the brisket looked pretty tough, but once I picked it up w/ the meat hook, it almost broke in half. I quickly grabbed a cookie sheet and supported the brisket to the kitchen. I've heard the champion chefs refer to "bark" on the brisket, but have never had the pleasure of understanding what that was. The outside of the brisket peeled off like..well..bark. It's a fitting description. The smokey cocoon gave way to some of the most tender beef I've cooked yet. I could've pulled it like pork (which btw is becoming a popular way to eat in Texas) and we would've had Pulled Brisket. We were so full of the pork that it was hard to appreciate the amazing texture, flavor and tenderness of that brisket. But it was the best, in my opinion, so far. I couldn't get over how much juicer it was than most I've made to this point. As they say, there's no such thing as bad BBQ, some is just better than others.
What I learned:
Small wood fires produce a better heat:smoke ratio. The downside is that they require higher maintenance and require constant supervision.
Pork is so much easier to get right
You don't have to simmer a mop-sauce for it to be loaded w/ kick ass flavor (thanks to our CSO).
I need this meat thermometer http://www.partshelf.com/maet73.htm
I'll turn it over to the CSO to discuss his sauces and rubs: