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 <<
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
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.