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Smoked Brisket with Spicy Soppin Sauce

The following recipe is based on an old Texas formula. Using a water smoker is mandatory here. It's the only way to come close to "real" barbecue at home.

Ingredients:

  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1 Tbs. ground mild dried chili such as New Mexico
  • 1 beef brisket, about 4 lb.

For the spicy soppin' sauce

  • 1 small dried hot chili
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. brown sugar
  • 1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. aniseeds
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 cups ketchup
  • Hot-pepper sauce, to taste

Directions:

In a small bowl, with the back of a heavy spoon, mash the garlic with the salt, pepper and ground chili. Rub this spice mixture thoroughly into the meat. Place in a nonaluminum dish, cover and refrigerate for 24 hours. Remove from the refrigerator 45 minutes before smoking.

Prepare a low-heat fire in a water smoker.

Put the water pan in place and fill the pan with water. Place the brisket on the highest food rack. Cover and smoke, keeping the temperature between 190°F and 225°F, until the meat is tender enough to cut with a fork, 6 to 7 hours. (Add more water to the pan as needed and, if using a charcoal smoker, add more partially lit coals to the fire pan as required.)

Meanwhile, make the sauce: In a food processor, combine the chili, shallot, vinegar, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, coriander, salt, aniseeds and cumin. Process until smooth. Transfer to a saucepan and stir in the ketchup. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce the heat to low, cover partially and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened, about 30 minutes. Season with the hot-pepper sauce. Set aside. When the brisket is tender, transfer it to a cutting board and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Let rest for 15 minutes..

Using a sharp knife, slice the meat across the grain or, using 2 forks, pull apart into chunks. Arrange on a warmed platter. Reheat the sauce over low heat, pour it into a bowl and pass at the table.
Serves 6.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Lifestyles Series, Backyard Barbecues, by Phillip Stephen Schulz (Time-Life Books, 1999).