Friday, January 9, 2009

Grilling Answers Ed. 2

How do I effectively do beef brisket on a gas grill with a smoker box?

If you talk to my Texas friend, he would insist that it is sacrilege to take a brisket any where near a gas grill. He would insist the only way to smoke a brisket is over the coals. Indeed this is the effect that many of us want to produce while keeping the convenience of the gas grill. So can a respectable Brisket be produced on the gas grill with a smoker box?

I say, "Yes, you can."

The Meat:

Select your brisket. Make sure it has a layer of fat on one of the long, wide sides. This is essential in the brisket turning out properly. If you are not going to cut and prepare your meat, have your butcher do it for you.


Spice your brisket on top of the fat. The fat should be evenly coated with Sea Salt, Black Pepper (ground), onion powder, and garlic powder. In Grilling Answers Ed. 1 I suggest that steaks should receive only an 1/8th teaspoon on their faces. The difference here is that you are spicing the layer of fat and not the muscle fiber directly. Spicing the surface of the fat requires more spice and should resemble the look of the rubs you may have seen on television cooking shows. The fat that melts will take spice flavor with it into the muscle fiber. As the fat melts it will keep the muscle moist and impart the flavor of the spices.

The grill and smoke box:

The chips you choose will determine the flavor that is caught on the sides and back of the tongue when you eat the brisket. For brisket, I prefer the taste of Hickory or Mesquite wood chips. I have mixed these two flavors on one occasion and did not care for the results.

Most smoker boxes for the gas grill will accept only small flakes and not many of them. As a result, the smoke is generated for a brief period of time; and if you try to add chips, you loose the heat and the cooking momentum in the brisket. Most smoking boxes will produce good volumes of smoke for about 15 minutes. This is too short to get a good pink ring all the way around the edge.

You will need to create a smoke generator. This can be done using aluminum foil (several layers) and two to three cups of wood chips (well soaked). Place the wood chips in the middle of the layers of aluminum foil. Fold the foil over the mound of chips leaving a squared opening on top of the chips. This opening should be about 2 inches wide by 3 to 4 inches long. The net result is a mound that loosely looks like a volcano's caldera packed with wood chips. This will produce smoke and the large opening will fill the grill. The large mound of chips will last longer than the small smoker box. This packet is placed over the heat source under the grill grate.

Grill Heating:

If you are going to infuse the meat with smoke flavor, keep it moist, and cook it until it is tender, you are going to use an indirect grilling technique. In the smoking stage, you will have a grill hot enough to produce smoke on one side of the grill. Your brisket is on the cooler side over a drip pan. You maintain this arrangement until you have the amount of smoke flavor you want in your brisket.

At this stage the brisket is not done. Yes you can eat it, but you will experience the fiberous texture of the muscle. To truly be delectable, it needs to continue cooking. It is at this stage that you lower the temperature of the entire grill, place the brisket in a tightly sealed aluminum foil and allow the brisket to finish cooking.

I would smoke for a minimum of one hour (stage one). After the smoke generator stops, I wrap the brisket in foil and lower the over all temperature of the grill and continue cooking the brisket for 2 more hours (stage two), cooking time varies with the size of the brisket. Take the packet off the grill and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes (stage three). Cut and serve. Stage four is accepting the praise gracefully.

I like to make a honey-cracked mustard sauce to go with my brisket. Serve the sauce you like.

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