I wrote on the Review that I would not share the tips that I picked up from Chris Marks, 8-time American Royal Champ at a recent class on brisket.
I lied. Sort of. I can’t keep my humblings to myself. After all, isn’t blogging kind of a transparent communication of one’s inner self? Maybe that’s too deep a question for LAN…
Any way… I feel good with my fire. Turns out I’m doing about everything right, except using too much wood. Meat will only accept or absorb smoke up until a certain temperature. I usually take my meat out of the fridge to come up to room temperature before placing in the smoke. Tip #1: Take it from the fridge to the smoke. The meat will absorb more smoke and the smoke ring will be just right. (psst – use cherry wood next time)
Tip #2 related to #1: Stop using wood after 100 or so degrees (in the meat). After that point the smoke doesn’t penetrate the meat. It only discolors your crust. I certainly can relate to that. My butts do tend to lean on the dark side. Good for Darth Vader, not for aesthetics.
One tip I’m on the fence about is fat side up or down. Mr. Marks says “down.” He has a good reason: “It goes to the bottom of your cooker not through the meat” because fat tends to rise through the meat in cooking. Having the fat side up drives the fat down the side of the meat not through it. We’ll give this one a whirl and see if it makes a difference.
Tip #3 relates to cooking temperature and time. Once the meat “plateaus,” rising the temperature to speed the cook time doesn’t hurt the process. At a point where the meat reaches 150 degrees, it’s ok to allow the fire to rise in temperature as the collagen in the meat has dissolved. I’m on the fence about this one too but won’t be so concerned if the wind or cold weather drives my fire temp up in the late stages of smoking.
Now I’m no big time BBQ’er or judge of BBQ, however one tip I won’t deploy is pulling or slicing the meat (brisket) right out of the smoke without rest. I can see a brisket coming up to temperature then choking your fire, leaving it in the smoker for an hour or two longer with temps falling, then slicing. But we know from experience that taking meat right out of the smoke at temperature (even a steak on a grill) and slicing releases all of the moisture. At the class he sliced the briskets right off the smoker and although the taste was awesome, they weren’t any more impressive than brisket at Smokin’ Al’s or Pappy’s Smokehouse in terms of tenderness.
Well those are the big ones for the brisket. As I mentioned on the other site, he’s back in town next month to give a class on pork shoulders. I’ll be tuned up and ready to go for that one. And actually I am considering entering the Fall BBQ Bash here close to the house. Supposedly there are hundreds of teams that compete. I feel pretty confident with some tweaks here and there that I can take home the prize.
Ah now the Bell’s is talking…