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The Perfect Brisket

The key is low and slow

Apply your rub of choice liberally and be careful to cover all areas of the brisket. A simple recipe includes the following: 1 part kosher salt, 1 part coarsely ground pepper, and  part granulated garlic.

Wrap the brisket in plastic and allow it to cure in the refrigerator for four to eight hours or even overnight.

To ensure a consistent cooking temperature, remove the brisket from the refrigerator and allow it to rest (still wrapped) at room temperature for an hour prior to placing it in the smoker or on the grill.

While the brisket is resting, fire up the smoker or grill using hot charcoal and either wood chips that have soaked for one hour in water or full logs. Place the wood directly on the hot coals to start to smoke and allow the temperature to settle into a range between 200 and 225 degrees.

The key is low and slow. Plan on smoking the brisket for an hour per pound. Place brisket, fat side up, directly over the smoking wood if using a smoker, or away from the hot coals and wood chips if using a grill (using indirect heat).

You’ll need to replenish coals and wood chips every hour. When you do so, do it fast and close the lid to maintain a consistent temperature.

Using a meat thermometer, continue smoking until the internal temperature of the brisket reaches 192 degrees. This is an important step and necessary to break down the tough collagen fibers and create a tender brisket.

For best results, wrap the cooked brisket in cellophane and let it sit at room temperature for an hour. This will allow the juices to settle back into the meat and produce a more succulent result.

— J.R.

The only downside to smoking a whole brisket is figuring out how not to waste a single shred. The best way to use up the extras? Invite friends and family over for a simple summer supper of brisket quesadillas and corn bread salad. The salad can be made ahead of time, and the quesadillas can be kept warm in the oven — leaving you free to enjoy a lazy summer evening.

Corn Bread Salad

2 boxes of Jiffy corn muffin mix
2 eggs
½ cup butter, melted
1 cup milk
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1 7-ounce can of green chiles, drained and chopped
3 cups tomatoes, diced
1 cup red and yellow peppers, diced
1 cup onions, finely chopped
½ cup sweet pickles, finely chopped
¼ cup sweet pickle juice
1 cup mayonnaise
12 slices of bacon, cooked until crisp and crumbled
2 hearts of romaine, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.

Combine eggs, melted butter, and milk; mix well. Add corn muffin mix, shredded cheese, and green chiles; mix just until cornmeal is incorporated. Pour mixture into baking dish and bake for 30 – 40 minutes. Let cool in the pan, then break into crumbles.

Stir together pickle juice and mayonnaise in a large bowl. Add tomatoes, peppers, onions, and pickles, and mix gently. Place vegetable mix in the refrigerator for 1 – 2 hours.

When ready to serve, place chopped hearts of romaine in a large bowl. Top with vegetable mix and half of the crumbled corn bread. Mix gently, then top with remaining corn bread and bacon crumbles. Serve immediately.

Brisket Quesadillas

12 flour tortillas
4 cups cooked chopped brisket, warm
2 cups 4Rivers Smokehouse barbecue sauce (or your favorite brand), warm
3 cups (about 1 pound) Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
3 jalapeños, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
1 bunch cilantro, leaves roughly chopped
Vegetable oil

Light grill and allow to reach medium heat.

Place chopped brisket on one half of a tortilla, leaving a ¼-inch rim uncovered by the brisket, and press the meat down firmly. Pour barbecue sauce on top of the brisket, but go light to avoid drips while grilling. Cover sauce and brisket with cheese, then layer jalapeЦos (to taste) and cilantro on top. Fold empty side of tortilla over mixture and press edges down to seal.

Brush one side of the tortilla lightly with vegetable oil and place on grill, oiled side down. Grill for 3 – 4 minutes, or until tortilla is browned. Brush top of tortilla with oil, flip, and grill for 3 – 4 minutes more.

Cut quesadillas into desired sizes, arrange on a large platter, drizzle with a little extra sauce, and enjoy!


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