I’m the grill-master in my family; my husband and kids know that the 8 feet of footage surrounding the Weber charcoal kettle and Jenn-Air gas are mine; no trespassing. That hasn’t dissuaded me from suggesting to my husband, Richard, that perhaps he’d like a Big Green Egg (an egg-shaped barbecue smoker) for Father’s Day. After all, I’ve been coveting one for years.
I select a more malty beer to marinate my brisket – it’s a personal preference.
Use whatever leftover spices you have to make a Southwest-styled rub pleasing to your palate.
Actually, no, he replied. Sunday is about me, not you. Would you like a vacuum cleaner on Mother’s Day? His point (for once) is well-taken. One shouldn’t assume that every man’s genetic make-up includes a barbecue gene; some men equate barbecuing with hard labor – even if most Father’s Day ads feature he-men grinning merrily over the flame, dry rub in one hand, sauce mop in the other.
But Richard applauds my suggestion of inviting family over for smoked brisket tacos, as long as I do the cooking. A brisket is a delicious, but tough, cut of meat that requires low heat and a long cooking time to tenderize; an ideal candidate for smoking. Mariam, a butcher at Sparrow Meats, made sure the brisket I purchased from them had a 1/4-inch fat cap, which she says is perfect for basting and adding flavor to the beef as it cooks. Another secret to smoked brisket bliss is in the type of wood chips used, which influences the flavor of the beef.
Therein lies the problem: I’ve been happily smoking foods on the same Weber kettle for over 20 years, but last month I noticed the bottom’s rusted out—there are holes in it, so smoking won’t be in the picture. Experience has taught me that my gas grill smoke box doesn’t emit enough smoke to season heftier pieces of meat, such as pork butts and beef briskets, so I may as well bake the brisket in the oven. But I’ll finish it on the Jenn-Air since the onions, peppers and tortillas are best grilled, even if over a gas flame.
The time for baking, braising or barbecuing uncured brisket is the subject of much debate on grilling forums, which I encourage you to Google. My recipe is not the Holy Grail, by any means, but it yielded some mighty fine tacos that were inhaled in a nano-second. I did, however, miss the smoky flavor in the meat.
If you own a smoker, follow their instructions for briskets, but the following recipe’s marinade, rub and accoutrements would still be delicious. My two cents for smoking is to keep the smoke and heat consistent (around 225 degrees), which means not peeking. As grillmasters oft say: “If you’re looking, you ain’t cooking.”
Disclaimer: This is not a recipe you can whip up in 30 minutes. This is a Polish Grandmother Recipe. And anyone who is a Polish Grandmother, or anyone who has a Polish Grandmother, or anyone (like me) who lives next door to a Polish Grandmother, knows that Polish Grandmother Recipes can’t be completed in less than thirty minutes. But … Full recipe post »
On Sunday’s journey back from Utah (an impromptu trip utilizing a free AMEX companion plane ticket), while poring over photographs taken hiking Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon, I lamented that I forget to take my wide-angle lens. Still. I could never capture Ansel Adam‘s American West no matter how many strings of cameras I roped around … Full recipe post »
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