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Barbecue Brisket

A few weeks ago we started our annual winter/spring visits to the Palm Springs area in order to satisfy our compulsion to play golf.  Why golf you might ask?  Golf is exhilarating,  refreshing and good exercise.  It is something you don’t have to be an athlete to enjoy and you play outdoors away from computers and cell phones.

Visits to ‘The Desert’ as we call it involve trips to Costco and as we all have experienced, when you go to Costco to buy paper towel you end up with a full car load of who knows what.  On a recent visit a gentleman was demonstrating Texas style smokers (barbecues). [1]

It looked so easy and my oldest son loves to mess around trying to smoke various cuts of meat and the next thing you know we own it.  The boys screwed it together, I went down to my butcher Doheny Glatt Kosher Meats [2] and purchased an entire brisket.  Around 10 pounds worth!

We fired up the smoker according to the instructions, poured the hickory wood pieces for smoke into the hopper and I gave the brisket a dry rub. Try a new style of brisket this Chanukah.  If you own a smoker and can cook outside, this was so delicious and we all enjoyed it. [3]

Smoking a brisket is not like baking a cake.  It is not exact. The constant is, bring the internal temperature of the meat to about 160 °F to 170° F.  The meat will be succulent, caramelized and very dark on the outside, a red smoked ring, and then, juicy meat to be sliced thin across the grain to eat plain or put in a killer sandwich.

There are so many variables, the style of your smoker, the size of the brisket, the temperature and weather of the day and on and on.  It takes all day, about 8 to 10 hours to smoke a whole brisket.  I started in the morning, placed the brisket on the smoker at 10 AM and we ate dinner at 8 PM.  Once the brisket was on the smoker I had 3 to 4 hours to leave and do my stuff.  I returned  home, applied the ‘mop’ with a brush, turned up the temperature and peaked in every hour or so to reapply the ‘mop’ until it started to look done,  At that point I took the internal temperature of the meat with an instant read thermometer that I use for other meat. I removed the brisket to a large platter when it reached the right temperature.

Serves a lot of people

1 10 to 12 pound whole brisket

Dry Rub:

2 tablespoons paprika

1 tablespoons New Mexico Chili Powder

2 teaspoons cumin powder

1 tablespoons kabob mix seasoning

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder


1 and 1/2 cups chicken stock

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup tamarind sauce or paste

1/3 cup pomegranate syrup or molasses

To prepare brisket, combine all rub ingredients.  Rub all over dry brisket and let it sit for a few hours or overnight  Take brisket out of refrigerator at least one hour before placing on smoker.  Prepare smoker. [4]

Place brisket on smoker at a preheated cool temperature of about 135 to 140° F for about 3 to 4 hours and then, turn temperature up to 225° F for the next 5 hours or so. After you turn up the temperature, apply the mop with a long handled brush every hour or so to the whole surface of the brisket.  The mop keeps it moist and caramelizes the outside of the meat.   When the internal temperature of the meat reaches 160° F to 170° F, remove brisket and let it rest for about 20 minutes before carving.  Serve with baguette and condiments for sandwiches and with baked beans, Cole slaw and potato salad or Latkes and apple sauce for Chanukah. [5]

Smoking involves slow cooking with the lid closed with the meat over indirect low heat and some kind of wood providing flavor via smoke.  Hickory wood smoke is supposed to be better than mesquite for brisket.  So I used hickory and would recommend that.

Just a note, I used a non alcohol mop, many people use beer or other alcohol in the mop for the liquid component instead of chicken stock.