Full Packer Texas Smoked Brisket
I’ve been smoking brisket Texas style for over 35 years. I have a Texas pit that I can smoke 200 lbs of meat at one time. It is made from 3/8” cold rolled steel for heat control and has an offset firebox. It produces the best brisket I’ve ever eaten and I’ve eaten at most of the top 50 bbq joints listed in Texas Monthly. It’s not that I’m such a great pitmaster, it’s using quality meat (I use Prime brisket), constant heat (225 degrees), simple injection, and a quality rub. Smoke for 6 hours, wrap in pink butcher paper and continue smoking until the internal temp reaches 203 degrees. However, you can make an excellent brisket in a small pellet smoker. I do it all winter on the Texas gulf coast. You won’t get as much of a smoke ring since pellets don’t produce much nitric oxide gas which when it reaches the myoglobin turns red. The flavor and tenderness will still be there.
Start with a quality 14-16 lb full packer brisket
Trim fat cap to 1/4 inch & trim all the deckle fat between the point & flat
Inject with your favorite brine and let sit overnight and then coat with your choice of rub.
Smoke @ 225 degrees for 6 hours.
Wrap in pink butcher paper and continue to smoke until internal temp reaches 203. Take out of smoker and place it in a cooler still in pink paper insulated with newspaper. Let rest 2 hours and up to 4. Slice across the grain.
There’s a BBQ joint in McKinney TX called Hutchin’s that originated the “Texas Twinkie”. As far as I know it’s the only place that serves them up but just two or three days a week. They are jumbo jalapeño peppers stuffed with cream cheese & smoked brisket, wrapped in bacon, smoked & slathered with a sweet sauce at the finish. So good & easy to prepare.
The first thing is to find the largest jalapeños. Cut off the stem end. Using a pairing knife hollow out the peppers removing veins and seeds. Fill 1/3 pepper with softened cream cheese. Stuff shredded brisket using your finger to pack the the pepper full. Take a 1/2 slice of bacon and cover the cut end. Then wrap the pepper with a full slice of bacon. Dust with your favorite rub. Place in a smoker @ 250 degrees for 30 minutes. Brush with sweet sauce five minutes before they’re done.
6 jumbo jalapeños. 4 oz cream cheese. 6 oz brisket. 9 slices thin bacon. Rub. Sweet sauce.
Follow instructions above.
Sweet sauce: 1 cup brown sugar. 1/2 cup ketchup. 1/4 cup cider vinegar. 1/4 cup yellow mustard. Mix all ingredients together. Heat in a pan to dissolve the sugar. Let sit one hour before using.
Home Cured Pastrami
One of my favorite sandwiches is a true Jewish New York pastrami. Unfortunately where I’m from you just can’t find anything that is even close. So I make my own. The cut of meat most Jewish delis use is the beef navel. It has a lot of fat layers just like bacon that make it so perfect for pastrami. It is a difficult cut to find for the average person. A reasonable substitute is the flat portion of the beef brisket. It has a nice fat cap but not a lot of fat layered. Some people choose to use the point portion of the brisket. It has a lot of fat but is marbled fat versus layered fat. I prefer the flat cut but it’s up to your own personal preference. This recipe works with either. A common error some home curers make is to buy a store bought corned beef that is ready to cook. They press the pastrami seasonings onto the corned beef and smoke it. They eliminate the 5 days minimum curing time needed to cure the brisket. The problem with that approach is that your pastrami is going to taste like corned beef, not pastrami. A dominant flavor in corned beef is pickling spice. You can’t get rid of that flavor by soaking and smoking. So if you are going to make pastrami, don’t take shortcuts.
You can buy a flat cut brisket at most supermarkets. It should be about 8 lbs. Trim the fat cap down to about 1/4 inch. The fat is important but to much requires that you trim the fat cap after you smoke it and there goes a lot of flavor. Prepare your curing brine. Inject the brisket with curing brine in 6-8 places to cut down on the curing time. Place in a food grade plastic bag and pour in the rest of the brine. Seal bag removing all the air and seal. Place in the fridge and let cure 5 days turning over once a day. Remove brisket from brine and rinse. In a small cooler add cold water and allow brisket to soak 4 hours changing the water every hour. This removes excess salt and if you skip this step you will have pastrami that is so salty you will have a hard time eating it.
Remove brisket from soaking water and pat dry with paper towels. It’s time to apply your curing spices. Use it all. Press it on all sides firmly. Place back in a food grade plastic bag and remove as much air as possible. Place a cutting board on top of the plastic bag with a cast iron or other heavy object on top. Place bag in the fridge and allow to cure at least 48 hours. I let it cure 4 days because I like the spices to infuse as much flavor as possible, and since the brisket has been preserved with instacure #1 you don’t have to worry about spoilage. Place brisket in the smoker on an oiled rack and smoke @ 250 degrees for 6 hours. After 6 hours transfer brisket to a baking sheet with a rack and pour about 1/2 inch of hot water in the baking sheet. Cover brisket and baking sheet with heavy duty foil and place back in smoker or in an oven heated to 250 degrees for an additional 3 hours. Remove from heat source and allow to rest for at least 30 minutes, covered. It takes some serious time to prepare this pastrami so I would suggest that if you have the refrigerator space, do two briskets. Once done, you can cut each brisket into several pieces (don’t cut in slices) vacuum pack and freeze for up to 90 days. You’re going to think you went to pastrami heaven, I guarantee!
Recipe (double if doing two):
For the brine:
1 gallon ice cold water
8 ozs kosher salt by weight
3 tsp. instacure #1
I cup firmly packed brown sugar
12 cloves fresh garlic, minced
For the rub:
3 tablespoons coriander seeds
3 tablespoons cracked black peppercorns
2 teaspoons yellow mustard seed
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 Tbs. garlic granules
1 Tbs. onion granules
Place coriander seeds, yellow mustard seeds in a spice grinder and pulse just until seeds are crushed. Mix in the rest of the spices.
Follow recipe instructions above.
Smoked Beef Brisket
1 Whole packer brisket, 12-15 lbs. All purpose rub. Beef broth. Rub brisket liberally with rub. Place in smoker @ 225 for 6 hours, spraying with beef broth every hour after the 3rd hour. After smoking for 6 hours, double wrap whole brisket in heavy duty tin foil (any meat that is being smoked will absorb smoke for up to 6 hours but after that it will just start accumulating on the bark and make it black and bitter). Put back in smoker or oven @ 225 for another 3 hours. Take wrapped brisket out of the smoker and place in a cooler for at least an hour to rest and up to 3 hours.
Beef Brisket Burnt Ends
Remove the point from your fully smoked packer brisket. This will almost come apart with out using a knife. Wrap in foil and allow to cool to room temperature. Cut the point into 1 inch cubes. Place in a aluminum foil pan. Toss with your favorite rub. Add 1 cup of brisket drippings collected from foil, (may add beef broth to make a full cup if needed). Place back into smoker @ 225 and continue to cook, stirring every 30 minutes, until ends are starting to darken and are melt in your mouth tender. These are the most sought after treats at any BBQ!