Continued from Page 1
When selecting our brisket we do so carefully and say a little prayer. The selection process involves not selecting the largest brisket ( they are from older and tougher cows) but instead choose a cut from a medium size cow, which cut averages 8 to 10 pounds. We also select a brisket that is "flexible" or "pliable". For example, place your hand vertically under the center of the brisket and let the brisket "flop" over the edges of your hand. Like a tenderloin, we select the one that has the most natural bend. If it is tough coming out of the butcher shop, it will be more difficult making it more tender on the grill. Let the next guy buy the tougher cut.
In the photo to the right, we flip the brisket over and begin to remove the outside fat that also will not render. It is hard, tough and often slightly yellow in color. It can be safely removed without and detriment to the tenderness of the meat. In this trimming, I go down to the muscle so that there is only a slight amount of fat remaining. It will look mostly red with a sprinkling of fat remaining.
Viewed from the other side (not flipped over) you can see that we have removed most of the fat that was situated on the top "outside portion" of the brisket. We went into the brisket about 2 inches in order to remove the maximum amount of fat and keep the brisket whole. The fat shown on the front of the brisket in this photo is handled a little differently.
In this same view, from the large end (also called "the point"), notice two things.
First, look how deep we cut into the fat layer of the brisket in order to remove the maximum amount of fat separating the two muscles. There is always this fat layer in the center traveling the length of the brisket keeping the two muscles separate.
Second, notice the approximately 1 inch layer of fat along the bottom [in the front of this photo]. This layer will vary between 1/4 inch to about 1 inch in thickness. If you select a brisket with the 1/4 inch of fat along this side, you can probably thank your butcher! More than likely it did not come that way. The goal is to trim this edge to about 1/4 inch in thickness. It offers a protective layer during the long periods of cooking. Although it will not render, it will help keep the meat moist and prevent the meat from becoming overly bitter or having a too strong a smoke flavor.
OK, we have now selected the best brisket and trimmed it to perfection. Now it is time to get to seasoning. Some folks choose to marinade the brisket. We have found that that process only penetrates the meat to a depth of about 1/4 inch. When cooking a large piece of meat that thick, this is not effective. The only way we know to make it tender is to cook it slowly......More about that later. Seasoning........We use a dry rub. It is called dry because we use dry spices to shake, sprinkle, douse, cover, etc., the meat and then rub it into the meat. Thus "Dry" "Rub". Get it?
Here is secret number 1 ........ before using the dry rub on your meat, ..... take a pastry brush and "paint" the brisket with a light coat of regular, everyday yellow mustard. Yup. Yellow mustard. Not heavily though. I know it does not look quite natural, but what it does for the overall taste will be excellent. Reassure your friends that you have not lost your mind. Taking this step, accomplishes several things. First, it helps keep the meat moist. Second, it helps to seal the meat and set up a tender crust. Third, the vinegar the mustard will help to a slight degree to tenderize the meat (i.e. tender crust) and fourth, it helps keep the dry rub on the brisket. The first several times I saw this done, I had my doubts also. But doing and tasting is believing. Don't skip this step if you are really seeking competition brisket. 'Nuff said.
Place a very light coat of ordinary yellow mustard on the meat before coating it with the dry rub seasoning.
Here's the rub......I use a glass "sprinkle jar"....sort of like the ones
that you see in the pizza parlors for the red pepper flakes. It has holes large enough for the seasoning to flow out without having to force it through the
smaller holes and not open so as to accidentally "pour" all of the seasonings on the meat. Notice in the photo to the right that the seasoning is going on this brisket in a heavy fashion. Also notice that this brisket does not have a mustard coating on the meat.
|[Notice these are old photos that do not reflect the mustard application. Updated photos are on the way!]
Continued on Page 3