For the Love of Brisket!

Photo of Brisket Being Smoked in SmokerWhether you are a seasoned Veteran or a first timer, when it comes good brisket, it gives you that, “oh my God” reaction with every first bite.  That reaction is what any good Pit Master is striving for, and the people who cook it love watching other people enjoy their food as much as for themselves.  This is what we achieve at Charlie Mac’s on an everyday basis.   I will explain the love that goes into making this cut of beef such a delight, but first I’d like to give you a little background or BBQ 101 on Brisket.

Brisket is a cut that comes from the lower portion of the cow’s chest right above its front legs. The brisket section of the cow is responsible for holding 60% of the cow’s weight.  This makes this meat very tough due to all the connective tissue responsible holding up the large weight amounts.  With all this connective tissue, the brisket must be cooked properly in order to break this connective tissue down to an enjoyable texture.  This is done by cooking the meat at a lower temperature for a longer time, hence the popular BBQ expression of “Low and Slow.”  The brisket has two sections, or cuts, the Fat Cap/point and the leaner cut called Flat.  If you have ever read a BBQ menu and saw term Burnt Ends they are talking about they meat that comes from the Point or Fat Cap cut.  The lean slices that you get are from the Flat.  Both are equally delicious if cooked properly, but be prepared to get a fattier meat if you get the burnt ends.

The term Burnt End refers to the fact that at least one side of the burnt end brisket contains a side that has been hit with smoke and is seasoned with the spice rub.  In Kansas City it is traditionally served as an open face sandwich, but as I have come to find out its pretty darn good with about anyting and is fun to mix it with other foods you enjoy. I love Caesar Salad, but I thought to myself that it would be much better with some burnt ends on top, and I was not disappointed.   Burnt Ends are an absolute delight any way you want to do them.  If you have never tried them because of fear of not knowing what they are, please do, if they are done right you will not be disappointed.

All BBQ Pit Masters have their own methods for seasoning and cooking their brisket.  If you are eating brisket in Texas you will find that they tend to only season their brisket with salt and pepper.  If you are in the Carolinas you’ll find that they include a variety of spices, including salt and pepper, in their spice rub.   Chef Pat and I experimented with about 15 different spice rubs before coming up with one that we both absolutely loved.  I can’t tell you the amount and names of the spices that go into our spice rub, but we stick to our recipe and this is one of the reasons why our brisket is consistently delicious.  Cooking temperature is another big factor in the texture of the brisket.  We pull all of our briskets at an internal temperature that gives the brisket the perfect texture when sliced.  You are looking for the brisket to be able to tear with relative ease when stretched.  If you cook it 5 degrees under the brisket will be tough, 5 degrees over and it may fall apart during the cutting process.  I will give you one tip.  Let the brisket rest for at least an hour before slicing, this will allow the brisket to maintain moisture.  Well I hope that this little piece has taught you something and made you a little hungry for Brisket!

-Tim Dunn Sous Chef at Charlie Macs