Dean Fearing, the pioneer of New Southwestern cuisine, shares his signature spice blend for the perfect smoked brisket.
In Dean Fearing’s latest title, The Texas Food Bible: From Legendary Dishes to New Classics, the acclaimed pioneer of New Southwestern cuisine shares recipes for many of his signature dishes and for contemporary spins on tried-and-true Lone Star staples. Test your pitmaster skills with the master's brisket recipe.
When buying brisket, allow about 3 servings per pound of trimmed meat. If the meat has not been trimmed, calculate about 2 servings per pound.
(Serves 4 to 6)
2 cups Fearing’s Barbecue Spice Blend (recipe follows)
1 10- to 12-pound beef brisket, fat trimmed to a thickness of ¼ inch
Using your hands, generously massage the spice mix into all sides of the meat; it should be well coated. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 12 hours.
Prepare the smoker as directed by the manufacturer. When the fire is gray and ashy, add your soaked or green wood pieces (the wood should begin to smoke almost immediately) and cover. Open both the top and the bottom vents and, once the smoke has settled, take the interior temperature. It needs to be at least 220 degrees and no more than 250 degrees. Insert the bottom grill grate and place a pan of water on it, opposite the coals. Insert the top grill grate and lay the brisket on it directly over the water. Cover and smoke, replenishing your coals as needed, for about 5 hours, or until the internal temperature registers 160 degrees.
Keeping the fire/smoke going, remove the brisket and wrap it tightly in aluminum foil. You can, if desired, coat it in a barbecue sauce or additional spice mix before wrapping. If it seems dry, you can pour about 1 cup of beer or stock over it before wrapping, taking care that all the liquid stays within the wrap. Return the brisket to the smoker and smoke for an additional 2 hours, or until the internal temperature registers 190 degrees. Uncover and let the fire die out, leaving the wrapped brisket on the grate for another hour. Unwrap and place on a cutting board to catch the juices as you carve.
(Chef’s note: Here’s a little tip I learned from old-time Texas pitmasters: When you want to know if your brisket is cooked to perfection, take a meat fork and stick it down into the center of the meat and give it a twist. If it twists easily, the meat is ready to eat.)
Fearing’s Barbecue Spice Blend
(Makes about ¾ cup)
¼ cup Pendery’s chile powder blend
1 tablespoon ground chipotle chile
1 tablespoon ground dried ancho chile
1 tablespoon hickory-smoked salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
½ tablespoon ground cumin
½ tablespoon granulated garlic
½ tablespoon Aleppo pepper
¼ tablespoon freshly ground pepper
Place the Pendery’s chile powder in a small bowl. Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl and stir to combine. Store, tightly covered, in a cool, dark spot until ready to use. Keeps for 3 months.