Technique

Getting the smoker going

  1. Light chimney starter half filled with coals.
  2. Put unlit coals around the bottom of the smoker leaving the middle empty (like a donut; mmm … donut )
  3. After charcoal is glowing and has some ash put into center of the donut
  4. Put ~5 wood chunks on unlit coals and a couple on the lit coals
  5. Add water to pan and put lid on
  6. Bring smoker to ~240 (this is a little high as when you put the meat on it will cool the smoker)

Brisket

I’ve broken smoking brisket in to 4 parts:
  1. The beginning – in order to get a good smoke ring, smoke flavor and bark it starts here.  The longer the meat is on the smoker before it gets to 140 the more smoke ring it will produce and smoke flavor it will take on.  This is also the time to get the bark to set.  You can put the brisket on cold or while the smoker comes up to temp to give the meat more time to develop the smoke ring.  I have found with my WSM the smoke ring doesn’t seem to be too pronounced.
    • Put brisket in smoker “cold” and fat side down even before 225 if wood is producing smoke (vs. coals) – to get better smoke ring
    •  Let smoker come to ~230 and cook until stall (160-170 internal temp)
    • At stall (160-170 internal temp) flip brisket to fat side up.  Make sure the bark is set (not soft or easily rubbed off – about 6 hours)
    • (Unknown if was good idea) put BBQ sauce and apple cider mix on brisket (produced chewy bark; did not like the vinegar)
    • Raise smoker temp to 260-275
  2. The stall – at about 160-170 the brisket will “stall” and the internal temperature will stop rising.  This is due to the meat “sweating” which has the same effect as it does on us; it cools down.  This is a time many people (myself included) panic.  After an hour or two the meat will begin to rise in temperature again.
    • Options for the stall:
      1. Let it go as is – Finish unwrapped to 203 internal (brisket had chewy bark – very delicious)
      2. Wrap in foil – and let it go to 203 internal (bark was soft and not set and brisket had “steamed” texture)
        • I have found that this softens the bark too much and can “steam” the meat giving it a braised texture.
        • key is to wrap tightly with two layers of extra strong foil.
      3. Wrap in butcher paper – to 203 internal (bark may be softer).
        • This is the alternative to foil the theory is that the grease will help seal up the paper but still always the meat to “breath” preventing steaming.
        • The paper will not burn if smoker is kept under 350
        • Make sure the paper is not butcher craft paper and is FDA approved
  3. The rest – important step to allow the brisket to stop cooking and let the juices redistribute in the meat.  Should rest to internal temperature of about 175.
    • Let rest nek’d (naked) until internal temperature of 175 (about 15 minutes) – let vent if in foil (I will not do foil any more)
    • If finishing in paper I would not take out of the paper for the rest.
  4. The hold – optional but highly suggested to keep the meat warm as it should not be cut until just before serving.  Wrap the meat in foil or butcher paper and a towel and put in a cooler until ready to serve.  Hold the meat for at least 45 minutes.  I will not use foil for this in the future as it tends to give the meat a braised texture.
    • Wrap in butcher paper (unless already in butcher from #2 above) and a towel and put in cooler for at least 45 minutes or until ready to slice/serve (up to 6 hours)

Reverse Sear

  1. I use a Weber Master Touch as my weapon of choice.
  2. I use very few coals as I have trouble keeping the temperature low.  I use less than a half a chimney and put all the coals in one end of the grill and try not to layer
  3. I add a water pan to help absorb the heat.  The bottom vents are closed.
  4. I put the steak on as far away from the coals as possible with the fatty side facing the heat.
  5. I put a chunk or two of wood on the grill grate above the coals to get some smoke going
  6. The lid goes on but barely covers the steak with the top vent over the steak (to bring the smoke over the steak).  I often lift the lid to keep the temperature low.
  7. I flip the steak every 5 minutes or so alternating fat side toward and away from the coals.  The fat should act as a barrier to the heat so I am not sure if it is necessary to worry about the direction of the fat.
  8. After 30 minutes I start up a fresh chimney about half full of coals to get ready for the sear.
  9. after about 40 minutes the internal temperature should be about 120° F (check the temperature every flip after 25 minutes so you don’t overcook) and the steak is moved to a plate to rest while we get the fire as hot as possible.
  10. Let rest while you get the fresh coals on the grill and piping hot (about 10 minutes).
  11. Now sear the sucker by flipping every 30 seconds and rotating.  The goal is NOT have grill marks; you want the entire steak to be a grill mark.
  12. You are looking for a nice mahogany color and the internal temperature to be 130° F (about 2 minutes).  Careful of flare ups and not to let it char.
  13. Let it rest for about 10 minutes and enjoy!

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