July BBQ at Sundowner

Its hard to find a way to better beat the Texas July heat than to have an all day pool-side BBQ with your friends and family.  That is exactly what I wanted to do the other weekend, and I was determined to conquer the dang stubborn brisket.

On Thursday I went to a Sam’s Club near the house and picked up a 14 lb. USDA Choice beef Brisket and three racks of baby back ribs for the Saturday feast.  The meat selection at Sam’s club was excellent, way better than the HEB store I went to, and I was pumped about how things were setting up.

Work on Friday was very difficult for me to stay focused, and I could already smell the smoke clouds from the age dried Live Oak wood smoldering in the fire box.  I got out of town as soon as possible after work and landed in Schulenburg at abut 5:30.  My spice-man was on the same game plan as me, cause we showed up to the front gate at exactly the same time, even though we were coming from different cities.

First things first, we made ourselves a wood-cuttin drink and headed to the wood pile to get some smokin’ wood chunks.  The next task was to cut open the shrink wrap around the meat, trim the brisket, and layer it with the two dry rubs I mixed together the night before.  We started with a 14 lb. brisket and trimmed about 3 lbs. of fat off the big fella.  The bottom side of the brisket was trimmed clean of any fat and white membrane, while the fat cap on top was trimmed to be about 1/4 in. thick all across.  The trimming done to the ribs was to remove the membrane from the bottom side.  I wanted to have some sweet pork ribs, so I used a good bit of white sugar and brown sugar in the rib rub. The brisket rub I made was a basic mixture of mostly paprika and chili powder.  Of course, there were a couple signature ingredients that I though really made the rubs smell good!  We wrapped the delicious looking, well rubbed meat in cling wrap and put them in the fridge to rest.

After trimming the brisket, we were left with approximately 11 lbs of meat by our estimates.  We were estimating to cook the brisket for about 14 hrs ( 1.25 hours per pound), which meant we needed to put it in the pit at 6:00 Saturday morning.  My alarm was set for 5:30 to get the coals hot again and get the pit steady at the desired 225 degree range.  We were right on schedule at had the meat on just after 6.

The chimney stack on the pit continued to disgorge smoke effortlessly, while the temperature inside kept around the target temp, rarely wavering.  Also, every hour, on the hour, we mopped the brisket with a vinegar and beer based mop sauce.  I started by day off with a bloody marry and continued to enjoy the beautiful July day between the pool and the fire box.

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At about 2:00 we brought out the baby back ribs and threw them onto the grill in the hot side of the barrel.  We planned on cooking these babies for about 4 hours.  The brisket was on the pit for over 10 hours when we stabbed it with a thermometer to check the internal temp, which surprisingly was hanging around 120 – 130 degree range.  I I really didnt want to wrap this guy in foil, but fearing that time was running out on us, I decided that we should finnish him in foil to try to bring the internal temp up to 180.  Also, at 6:00 I wrapped the ribs in roil with a little mop sauce for them to steam in.

The ribs ended up staying on the grill for almost 6 hours, and were a house favorite.  I think those were the best ribs I have ever tasted!  The flavor was great, the crust on the was just right, and they were cooked to perfection.  They were not sloppily cooked like those ribs where the meat falls of the bone when you pick up the bone; the meat came clean off the bone with little help from from your teeth.  They were absolutely amazing.

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By the time we devoured all the ribs and disappointed the dogs because the bones had very little meat on them, the internal temp on the brisket was still a ways off from 180.  We decided to heat up the fire box a little bit higher and head tot he tank for some skeet shooting, now that the outside temperature wasn’t so scorching.

When we got back to the house, the brisket looked amazing, but the internal temp was stuck at 160 and we decided to go ahead and pull it off and hope for the best.  Lets just say, it made incredible chopped beef sandwiches Sunday for lunch.  I can’t figure it out!  I thought for sure we were going to nail this stupid brisket thing down this time.  I’m thinking that maybe we need to smoke the brisket at closer to 150 degrees instead of 125 so that the internal temp will get up there.  The flavor of this brisket was great and we had a smooth smoke ring under the surface, it just did not break down and tenderize like I was hoping.

Once again, I have been defeated by the allusive brisket.

If you have any suggestions or thoughts, I would love some input.  I am going to get it down one day, and I will definitely share it with you.

Follow the Lord.