Well, you asked for it. Here, Smoky answers the most commonly asked questions. He is direct, honest and offers an insight into the time proven techniques to preparing great barbecue that is unavailable elsewhere. If you are unable to locate the exact answer you are seeking, feel free to contact him directly and ask!
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FAQ Subject: The "Texas Crutch"
I have been a brisket cooker for years, and have cooked hundreds. I was taught, dare I say, to use the “Crutch”.
Reading your thoughts, I am motivated enough to try a different approach. It is hard to even consider, as I have had a lot of success, both in contests, and with family and friends. In short, a lot of happy customers who can’t wait to get more!
I have a large offset smoker and can control the temps very well. I have Oak and pecan or apple wood at times. I even used lump charcoal a few times as well. Usually I use a dry rub, and smoke fat side _down_ about 6 hours before one mopping and wrapping. About 5 hours later, I take them off and let them sit in a container for another two hours or so before serving.
I am going to burn down the wood as you have suggested next time. Your comments about the wood make a lot of sense. It also might help from getting a face full of smoke the few times I do open the smoker.
My question is about mopping. If I loose the “crutch”, how much does mopping really help several hours into the process? Is it necessary for a juicy/tender end result? If so, what would be the key mop ingredients? I also noticed that you cook yours with the fat side up. Does the fat cap really ‘baste the meat itself with out making it greasy? I also believe that mopping will add to the total cook time because of opening the smoker. How much longer should I expect to endure this process?
Any more of your thoughts or wisdom on the subject would be appreciated to help me loose the “crutch” and keep my brisket eaters happy!
In addition to adding flavor, mopping keeps the exterior moist longer. As you probably have experienced with a damp pot holder, heat is conducted much better by moisture. Therefore by cooking at lower temperatures and mopping, the exterior stays moist longer and transfers heat more effectively.
Personally, when cooking brisket, I use a dry rub and a mopping sauce which consists of the dry rub in a mixture of water, vinegar and maybe a little Worcestershire. But whatever should meld with the dry rub.
I trim the fat to not more than 1/4" thickness and will turn and baste/mop the other side several times during the cooking process. After you have established that you temperature is holding and the meat is cooking to your wishes, no need to baste more than 30 minute intervals for the first few hours. After than rest and let the pit to the work bringing the internal temperature up to 190-200 degrees.
After you remove, let it rest for 20 minutes before slicing.
I think you will like the results.