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Smoked Beef Brisket in Only 15.5 Hours

Labor Day called for another outing with the Weber Bullet--this time in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Again, I went with my local Organic Butcher for a 12.5 lb. brisket--so fresh it was not vacuum packed (price: $8.00/lb.). After trimming off some fat, we bagged and drenched it with Scott's Barbecue Sauce for about 8 hours in the fridge.

In the late afternoon, we started out with a full load of cold briquets, about 20 hot ones and some hickory and apple wood. In about 30 minutes, the smoker got up to our target temp of 190F. We then smoked a two pound peppered fillet of salmon. It was fork-flaky in about 80 minutes. With the salmon set aside as tomorrow's hors d'oeuvre, we were ready to take on the brisket--now out of the fridge and resting at room temperature.

By then, it was well into the cocktail hour. After some fortification and a fine dinner of Crab Imperial, we placed the brisket in the smoker at about 2030 (8:30 PM). Allowing 1.5 hours a pound, we figured the brisket would take 18 hours to reach it's target internal temp of 190F. (That would be 1430 [2:30 PM] tomorrow afternoon.) Before turning in for the evening, we added some briquets. (My host suggested we check the water but I assured him it wasn't necessary). I then set the alarm for 0600 on my new Samsung Epic 4G smart phone. The next morning, the damn thing worked, so the dog and I stumbled outdoors in the near dark to see what's cooking.

The temperature was at 240F and rising fast! "What's going on", I asked the poodle. And then we heard the spattering of fat. "Hey, this ain 't a grill", sez I to me, "it's a water smoker and it just ran out of water." I grabbed the hose, filled the water pan and saved the day as the sun rose.

I then flipped the brisket, added salt, pepper and EVOO. The temp dropped smartly back to the 190F-205F range and stayed there as it had throughout the smoke with the exception of the pre-dawn spike.

We ignored the smoker until about the 15 hour mark when my host got out his thermopen to check how we were doing. Surprise surprise: the brisket was done. Temperatures varied from 185F in the center to 200F nearer the edges. Time to get it off. After some discussion, we decided it was best to wrap the beef in heavy foil and hold it in the kitchen oven at 120F and then goose it to 140F an hour before dinner. (Of course we had to trim off just enough to chop up for lunch.)

The brisket turned out just right: very tender, lean, not too dry, great smoke ring and taste. We served it sliced for dinner, drizzled with Sauce Poivrade (pepper sauce), with rolls, grilled green beans, grilled corn on the cob and peach crepes with whipped cream. By the time the long weekend was over the brisket was gone. I took some home, but stopped in Richmond to visit friends. I left for home with an empty cooler.

More on Sauce Poivrade at the next posting.


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