Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Beef Brisket

Beef brisket is a very affordable and forgiving piece of meat to bbq. The brisket comes from the chest of the cow so it is a very large and tough muscle that requires long and slow cooking. 
I start with the large primal cut that comes in its original packaging. These usually weigh 12-18 lbs. I would say that the main factor that limits when you can cook a brisket is the cooking time. I started with a 15lb brisket and ended up with a total cooking time of about 12 hours. Start by washing the brisket and seasoning with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. You can also use your favorite bbq rub in this step. Keep in mind that most commercial bbq rubs contain a large amount of sugar that will burn on the grill. This will require you wrapping the brisket up with foil to protect it sooner than normal. 

For cooking such a large piece of meat the grill needs to be well preheated. We are looking for 225-250 degrees Fahrenheit. I use both the side fire box and the main chamber on my grill. Once the grill is up to temperature and the dampers are closed down it will maintain its heat for several hours at a time. Having the extra coals in the main chamber come into handy for cooking appetizers or other side dishes over direct heat if so inclined. You will need to check and add fresh coals to the to the grill every 1-2 hours during the cooking process to maintain a constant temperature. The first 2 times that I add fresh coals I also add some mesquite wood chips that have been pre-soaked in water. 
Above is the brisket after 8 hours of cooking with indirect heat. At this time you will notice that the outside of the brisket starts to form a thick layer that is called "bark". To prevent the brisket from overcooking and also to further aid its cooking, we wrap it in foil. This process is known as the "Texas Crutch" on the competitive bbq circuits. This is similar to the process I use with my ribs. I wrap the brisket up in heavy foil with equal parts apple cider vinegar, apple juice, and water. Make sure that the brisket is well wrapped and no liquid escapes. The brisket is then left on the grill over indirect  heat for 2-3 more hours. After a few more hours on the grill the brisket should be done. I like to unwrap the brisket and give it one last quick sear over direct heat to give it a good final crust on the outside. Remove the brisket from the grill and tent with foil to rest for 30 minutes to 1 hour.  

Thinly slice the brisket across the grain to serve. It will be pull apart tender, and juicy. You can serve it with your favorite bbq sauce if you want, but it really does not need any.
***Notice the pink ring around the outside of the meat. This is from the smoke penetrating the meat while cooking.

Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers

At my house we always say,"If you already have the grill going, you might as well be cooking something." My favorite appetizers to cook on the grill while waiting for dinner to finish cooking are bacon wrapped jalapeno poppers.

  • 16 Jalapeno peppers, washed and dried
  • 1 Block of cream cheese
  • 1/2 Cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3 Green onions, chopped
  • Dash each salt, pepper, and garlic powder
  • 16 Strips of thick cut bacon
  • 16 Toothpicks, soaked in water for 10 minutes

Start by combining the cheeses, green onions, and seasonings in a bowl and set aside.
Slice about 1/3 of the peppers off lengthwise. I like to leave the stems intact so that you have a handle to pick them up with. Scrape out the seeds and white membrane inside the peppers using a small spoon. Wash the peppers with water to get out any extra seeds and set aside. I suggest wearing some latex gloves for this step. The oils from the peppers do not wash off your hands very easily. You will find this out the hard way if you are a contact lens wearer like myself.

Spoon and pack the cheese mixture into the peppers. Wrap each pepper with one slice of bacon and secure with a toothpick. Make sure to wrap the bacon around the pepper so that most of the cheese filling is covered.
I like to cook my peppers on a charcoal grill but these can just as easily be prepared on a gas grill. These are usually something I like to make while I am slow cooking a pork shoulder or a beef brisket. 
Start by putting the peppers on the grill over indirect heat meaning that the heat source is off to one side of the peppers. Cook the peppers over the indirect heat for 20-30 minutes or until most of the bacon has begun to render down. This also gives the peppers a chance to cook through.
After the bacon has cooked down and the peppers are starting to feel softened, move the peppers over to the direct heat for just a few minutes to give them a quick char. Be very careful to watch these when they are over direct heat because the bacon can burn very quickly. Remove the peppers to a platter to cool. It is best to let the peppers rest for a minute or two before serving because the filling will be extremely hot.I promise that you will always find yourself saying that next time you need to make more!