Living in North Carolina, hog capital of America, barbecue is synonymous with pulled pork, and Greek style pork butt is on regular rotation in our home. However, there is another type of barbecue, beef brisket, which I have always been too intimidated to attempt at home. That is, until I got to spend an evening with the Charlotte Food Bloggers at the Texas-style barbecue restaurant, Midwood Smokehouse. During our gathering, Executive Chef Paul Cruz walked the group through their step-by-step process for making delicious brisket barbecue.
As with any good meal, the process begins by selecting quality ingredients. Having spent time in the heartland of brisket barbecue at Texas A&M's Brisket Camp, Chef Cruz recommends USDA Prime Beef. And if you're not sure where to get your hands on a good brisket, many market and grocery store butchers can accommodate requests for special orders. You can also go the route of ordering your meat on-line, which may be your only option if looking to purchase from a specific beef producer, something a neighbor recently did with good results.
The brisket cut comes from the breast of the cow and consists of two parts -- the flat and the point. The flat is made up of lean meat, while the point is fattier. Prior to seasoning, remove excess fat from the top of the cut, keeping a quarter inch layer to help moisten the meat while it cooks. Too much fat will prevent the seasoning from fully penetrating the brisket, while not enough will cause the meat to be too dry. Using a rub, season the brisket generously, massaging the meat.
1 cup Kosher Salt
1 cup Granulated Sugar
1/2 cup Paprika
3 tbs Chili Powder
1 tsp Dry Mustard
1 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
1/2 tsp Cumin
1/2 tsp Onion Powder
3 tbs Black Pepper
After removing the brisket from the smoker, wrap it in butcher paper and let it rest for 45 to 60 minutes. It is important to use butcher paper as opposed to plastic, which will retain heat, causing the cooking to continue.
When cutting the meat, use a sharp knife, cutting across the grain. For those seeking lean brisket, cut from the flat, for fattier brisket, cut from the tip, or for "mixed" use a combination of both.
Following Chef Cruz's smoked brisket tutorial, our blogger group enjoyed a delicious meal of pulled pork and brisket accompanied by a mac and cheese bar with toppings such as jalapeño candied bacon. It was so good, in fact, that our family decided to order from their group-to-go menu for the 4th of July a few days later. With relatives visiting from New England for the holiday, we decided it would be best to hold off on practicing our barbecue skills until a later date.
A big thanks to Chef Cruz and everyone at Midwood Smokehouse for sharing their brisket knowledge, treating the Charlotte Food Bloggers to a fun evening of delicious food, and playing a part in this year's 4th of July family celebration.