Thursday, October 1, 2009

BBQ (Brisket)

About 15 years ago, I was on a business trip to Bryan, Texas, a small town near College Park, Texas, the home of Texas A&M. Our host took us to a tiny barbeque restaurant that was like what you might see in a movie. I don't remember the name of the place. There were chairs on a small front porch, and a wooden screen door that banged when opened then closed. The only seats in the restaurant were at old wooden picnic tables, that had many years of customers' initials carved in the wooden tops.

The menu was very limited. Mostly people went there for the beef brisket. I ordered brisket.

Your meal comes out laid on a piece of waxed paper: several slices of beef, a big slice of raw sweet onion, and a Bowie knife to eat it with. No fork. I had eaten brisket cooked by my father as well as brisket at Corky's Restaurant in Memphis. I had always found it to be very dry and bland. Until I tried brisket in Texas. People in North Carolina and Memphis make fun of people that cook brisket for barbeque instead of pork, and usually the ridicule is justified. However, this brisket was moist and tender, with a beautiful red smoke ring, and a great smoky flavor. I have been in search of this perfection ever since, with little luck.

About a month ago, I bought what I believe to be the best book on barbeque I have ever seen, Serious Barbecue, by Adam Perry Lang.  Included in the book was a recipe for brisket that was coated in spices then slow smoked for about 14 hours.  I wanted to do this-- sleep was optional.

I got a beautiful brisket from my local meat provider, Underwood Farms, which sells never-frozen grass fed beef at the Charlotte Farmer's Market on Saturdays.

I woke up at 5 a.m., pulled the brisket out of the fridge, lit the fire, spread the spices on the brisket, and put the meat on the fire.  For 14 hours.

I'll cut to the chase.  It wasn't good.  It was dry, stringy and strangely dense.  I have not idea what went wrong, but I will try again.  Some day.  We ate on it that night, then I threw the rest away.

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