Welcome to my world!

I've developed a passion for cooking since childhood, but in the past six years, that passion has grown into a geeky obsession. I love cooking, baking, and most importantly, sharing the love of food with family and friends. I invite you along on my journey of food discovery and passion.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Brisket wars

So, for those of you that aren't from Texas, you may not realize that bbq brisket is like a religion - everyone is loyal to their particular preference and will defend their choice to the death.  The drama aside, cooking a brisket can be a religious experience - rise early to fire up the grill, tend it lovingly with a lack of sleep, thus inducing a trance-like state, and finally the nirvana of that first taste of then bark-crusted goodness.

While I am not a native Texan, my spouse (IceDaddy) is.  He was inspired to craft a delicious brisket for an engagement party recently.  Now, being the competitive people that we are, we decided on our own version of a brisket throwdown.  Approximately 15 lbs of test briskets and 30 lbs of the actual party brisket later, I have to say <<>> our friends refused to tell us who won, but it definitely allowed us to explore the brisket wars firsthand.

So, for those that love a tender brisket, my method was sacrilegious - I didn't smoke the brisket; rather I went Jewish-style and baked the brisket.  Following the instruction of a dear friend (and brisket expert), I marinated the brisket in Shiner Bock beer and liquid smoke, plus a rub that was a riff on Paula Deen's.  I actually pulled that off of the Food Network website rather than her cookbook, but I suspect it could be found in one of them! (recipes from magazines and Food Network are fair game for my purposes)!

IceDaddy worked to perfect the imperfect process of smoking brisket on a gas grill.  Before I completely offend smoker purists, I will apologize and say we worked with what equipment we had (NOTE: he WILL be getting a real smoker in the future).  Using a smoker box with wood chips, and a rub plus a bbq mop of Shiner Bock flavored with onion and more rub, he produced a very delicious brisket (on the second try - first time the rub was not right).  His go-to reference: the Williams-Sonoma Grilling/BBQ cookbook that I gave him about two years ago.  Never opened until the brisket motivated him.  After HOURS of studying and understanding the effects of smoke, different rubs, and mops, he armed himself with his bbq tools and set to work.

For the war o' the briskets... the morning of the competition, er, the engagement party, we awoke at 4 am.  As the briskets needed to be ready by approximately 12 - 1 pm, and they were about 8 - 9 lbs each, early rising was essential.  Goes something like this: 4 am : buzzzzzzzzzzzzz (continues for 5 minutes as hubby groggily misses snooze bar).  4:09 am : buzzzzzzzzzz (hubby turns off alarm, utters a curse, and groans as he rolls out of bed to pull brisket out of fridge.  With eyes still closed, I ask him to pull out my brisket from the fridge as well.  4:30 - IceDaddy has started the grill after changing out propane tank in a panic because it might run out otherwise.  I get out of bed and turn on oven.  4:35 - oven preheated; my brisket is sealed up in tin foil pan and tin foil cover and inserted into oven.  4:40 - I am passed out snoring in bed. 

5:00 - IceDaddy manages to get grill correct temperature despite gale-force winds threatening to blow bbq grill off of patio (that's actually happened twice before), gets brisket on grill, and closes grill to start cooking process.  He hovers over grill until temperature gauge is back up to correct temperature.  6:00 am - IceDaddy, still unable to fall back asleep, is relegated to watching paid programming on television to induce coma-like state.

8:00 am - I get up to begin preparations for party (decorating tables, setting out plates and other decor, etc). Total extra hours of sleep: 3 1/2.  By this time, IceDaddy has checked the brisket once every hour.  Total extra hours of sleep for Ice: 1.  He goes back to sleep until around 10 am, by which time he's ready to start adding the mop sauce to the brisket.  10 am: I check how my brisket is cooking and manage to crease flimsy tin pan thus spilling brisket juices all over bottom of oven.  Rather than scald myself, I re-seal brisket and stick back in oven.  IceDaddy begins mopping process in earnest.

Noon - my brisket is done, but I let it hang out in the oven at a low temp until guests arrive and we're ready to feed the hungry hockey team peeps.  Noon - IceDaddy still cooking.  1:00 - IceDaddy done cooking; decides to pull off brisket as people are armed with forks and knives and looking hungry enough to devour our cats.  1:30, brisket carved and served to hungry masses. 

The verdict: if you're looking for juicy fall-apart tender brisket, come see me - I have the brisket secrets for you!  If you're wanting a more traditional brisket with a decent (if thick) bark, ask the hubs!  Oh, and people ate all 30 POUNDS of our briskets, so either they are very polite or it was actually pretty good.


  1. Love you sweetie, but I won. My brisket was better than decent.

  2. As one of the attendees who had a taste of both briskets, I have to say that the winner was…