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Video: Brisket on the BBQ

TODAY
updated 6/6/2008 12:33:13 PM ET 2008-06-06T16:33:13

Love brisket but afraid to cook it? Well, now you don't have to be, thanks to Steven Raichlen and his updated cookbook, “The Barbecue! Bible 10th Anniversary Edition.” The noted chef and television host shares his recipe for a juicy and tender Texas-style barbecued brisket and grilled corn. So get your appetite ready for a delicious dish!

Recipe: Texas-style barbecued brisket (on this page) Recipe: Grilled corn with shadon beni butter (on this page)

About the chef: When Steven Raichlen isn't in the kitchen making delicious dishes, he's writing cookbooks. He is the author of 28 books, including the "Barbecue! Bible" cookbook series. Raichlen is also the host of two television cooking shows.

Recipe: Texas-style barbecued brisket

Pork may be the preferred barbecue east of the Mississippi (think of the pork shoulder of the Carolinas and the ribs of Kansas City and Memphis), but in Texas beef is king — especially beef brisket, which comes moist and smoky and tender enough to cut with a fork. (Not that any self-respecting Texas barbecue buff would use a fork.) Barbecued brisket is simultaneously one of the easiest and most challenging recipes in the world of barbecue. Easy because it requires only one main ingredient: brisket (even the rub is optional). Challenging because pit masters spend years learning the right combination of smoke (lots), heat (low), and time (measured in half days rather than hours) to transform one of the toughest, most ornery parts of the steer into tender, meaty perfection.

Over the years, I’ve found that two things help above all: choosing the right cut of brisket —namely, untrimmed, with a thick sheath of fat — and then cooking the brisket in a shallow pan. The pan keeps the juices from dripping onto the fire and the meat from drying out, while allowing for the maximum smoke penetration from the top. A whole brisket (the sort cooked by a restaurant) weighs eighteen to twenty pounds. Here I call for a partially trimmed brisket — a cut weighing five to six pounds. Do not attempt to make this with a two-pound trimmed, fatless brisket; it will turn out much too dry. To achieve the requisite smoke flavor, you need to smoke the brisket in a charcoal grill — or in a smoker. A gas grill will not produce enough smoke.

Advance preparation: 4 to 8 hours for curing the meat (optional); also, allow yourself about 6 hours cooking time.

Special equipment: 6 cups hickory or mesquite chips or chunks, soaked for 1 hour in cold water to cover and drained.

Ingredients
  • 1 beef brisket (5 to 6 pounds), with a layer of fat at least 1/4 inch thick, preferably 1/2 inch thick
  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt (kosher or sea)
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
Preparation

1. Rinse the brisket under cold running water and blot it dry with paper towels.

2. Combine the salt, chili powder, sugar, pepper, and cumin in a bowl and toss with your fingers to mix. Rub the spice mixture on the brisket on all sides. If you have time, wrap the brisket in plastic and let it cure, in the refrigerator, for 4 to 8 hours (or even overnight), but don’t worry if you don’t have time for this — it will be plenty flavorful, even if you cook it right away.

3. Set up a charcoal grill for indirect grilling and preheat it to low. No drip pan is necessary for this recipe.

4. When ready to cook, toss 1½ cups of the wood chips on the coals (3/4 cup per side). Place the brisket, fat side up, in an aluminum foil pan (or make a pan with a double sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil). Place the pan in the center of the hot grate, away from the heat. Cover the grill.

5. Smoke cook the brisket until tender enough to shred with your fingers; 6 hours will likely do it, but it may take as long as 8 (the cooking time will depend on the size of the brisket and heat of the grill). Baste the brisket from time to time with the fat and juices that accumulate in the pan. You’ll need to add 10 to 12 fresh coals to each side every hour and toss more wood chips on the fresh coals; add about 3/4 cup chips per side every time you replenish the coals during the first 3 hours.

6. Remove the brisket pan from the grill and let rest for 15 minutes. Transfer the brisket to a cutting board and thinly slice it across the grain, using a sharp knife, electric knife, or cleaver. Transfer the sliced meat to a platter, pour the pan juices on top, and serve at once.

Recipe Copyrighted by Steven Raichlen, The Barbecue! Bible, 10th Anniversary Edition, Workman Publishing Company 2008.

Serving Size

Serves 10 to 12

Recipe: Grilled corn with shadon beni butter

Despite the wide use of charcoal as a cooking fuel, Trinidadians aren’t particularly keen on grilling. One exception is corn. Stroll through Queen’s Park Savannah in Port of Spain at dusk and you’ll find large crowds at the corn vendors lining up for crackling crisp ears of a mature variety of corn most Americans would consider too large, old, and dried out to eat. But it’s these very defects that make the corn so munchable and delicious.

Traditionally, the cooked ears are brushed with melted butter and sprinkled with salt and pepper. Inspired by a popular Trinidadian herb, I’ve come up with a more interesting topping: shadon beni butter. Shadon beni (literally false cilantro) is a dark green, thumb-shaped, sawtooth-edged herb with a taste similar to cilantro. It’s generally sold in North America by its Hispanic name, culantro (look for it in Hispanic and West Indian markets). But don’t despair if you can’t find shadon beni: cilantro makes an equally delicious butter. By the way, you can use shadon beni butter as a great topping for other simply grilled vegetables and seafood.

Ingredients
  • 8 ears of corn (the larger and older, the better)
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) salted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh culantro or cilantro
  • 2 scallions, both white and green parts, trimmed and minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Freshly ground black pepper
Preparation

1. Shuck the corn and set it aside while you prepare the shadon beni butter.

2. Place the butter, culantro, scallions, and garlic in a food processor and process until smooth. Season the butter with pepper to taste and transfer it to a bowl. Alternatively, if the herbs and garlic are very finely minced, you can stir them right into the butter in a bowl.

3. Set up the grill for direct grilling and preheat to high.

4. When ready to cook, brush and oil the grill grate. Arrange the corn on the hot grate and grill, turning with tongs, until nicely browned all over, 8 to 12 minutes. As the corn cooks, brush it occasionally with the shadon beni butter.

5. Remove the corn from the grill and brush it once more with the shadon beni butter. Serve at once.

Recipe Copyrighted by Steven Raichlen, The Barbecue! Bible, 10th Anniversary Edition, Workman Publishing Company 2008.

Serving Size

Serves 8

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