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Texas-Style Brisket

Texas-Style Brisket
In Hill Country, believed by many to be the birthplace of real Texas barbecue, brisket is the only meat in town. Texans would never think of brushing a slow-cooking brisket with sauce. They might start with a peppery rub, but usually they let the wood and smoke do the job of turning a tough cut of beef into the most tender, flavorful meat in the world, or at least in Texas. Traditionally, barbecued brisket is served in big rolls, ideal for soaking up sauce and juices.

Ingredients:

For the Hill Country rub:

  • 2 Tbs. chili powder
  • 1 Tbs. sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp. ground oregano
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 whole beef brisket, 5 to 6 lb., trimmed to
      leave a thin layer of fat
  • 3 to 4 handfuls hickory or mesquite chips,
      soaked if using charcoal

For the beer barbecue sauce:

  • 3 Tbs. vegetable oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbs. chili powder
  • 3 cups barbecue sauce
  • 1 cup beer
  • 2 Tbs. prepared horseradish
  • 2 Tbs. cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce

Directions:

To make the Hill Country rub, in a small dish, stir together the chili powder, paprika, oregano, salt, cumin and cayenne. Sprinkle the mixture evenly on all sides of the brisket, patting and rubbing it into the meat. Tightly wrap the meat in a large piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Let the meat stand at room temperature for at least 15 minutes, or cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours before grilling. If refrigerated, remove the brisket from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before grilling.

Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for indirect grilling over medium-low heat.

For a charcoal grill: Place a drip pan half full of water on the center of the fire bed. Sprinkle the wood chips on the coals. Place the foil-wrapped meat on the grill rack over the drip pan. Cover the grill and cook for 3 hours, adding more wood chips, coals and water as needed. Remove the meat from the grill and place it in a shallow pan. Unwrap the meat, allowing the juices to collect in the pan. Place the unwrapped meat on the grill over the drip pan, cover the grill, and continue to cook until the meat is very tender and blackened on the outside, 2 1/2 to 3 hours more. Baste the meat several times with the reserved meat juices, and add wood chips, coals and water as needed.

For a gas grill: Place a shallow pan half full of water at the edge of the grill rack. Add half of the wood chips to the grill in a smoker box or perforated foil packet. Place the foil-wrapped meat on the grill away from the heat elements. Cover the grill and cook for 3 hours, adding more water as needed. Remove the meat from the grill and place it in a shallow pan. Unwrap the meat, allowing the juices to collect in the pan. Place the unwrapped meat on the grill and add the rest of the wood chips to the grill in a smoker box or perforated foil packet. Cover the grill and continue to cook until the meat is very tender and blackened on the outside, 2 1/2 to 3 hours more. Baste the meat several times with the reserved meat juices, and add more water as needed.

To test for doneness, insert an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the meat; it should register 190°F.

While the meat is cooking, make the beer barbecue sauce: In a saucepan over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the onion, celery and bell pepper and sauté until softened, about 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic and chili powder and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in the barbecue sauce, beer, horseradish, vinegar and Worcestershire sauce. Simmer, stirring often, until reduced by about one-fourth, about 20 minutes. Let cool, then cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days before using.

Transfer the smoked brisket to a carving board and let rest for at least 15 minutes. Carve the meat across the grain into thin slices. Meanwhile, warm the sauce in a pan over medium-low heat or set the pan on the grill rack to warm. Serve hot. Serves 8 to 10.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma, Essentials of Grilling, by Denis Kelly, Melanie Barnard, Barbara Grunes & Michael McLaughlin (Oxmoor House, 2003).