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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

New Years BBQ Brisket and Chuck

One of the new traditions that has begun to become part of just about everyone of our gatherings has been the addition of grilled or smoked meats.  This is largely due to my influence; although it also reflects the changing traditions that have become a part of my family's journey in the United States.  While I do not believe that we will ever completely give up our Japanese heritage or the connections to those traditions, I believe we will continue to incorporate and celebrate our growing heritage here.  A slow smoked brisket and pulled chuck roast is a part of the American tradition we have adopted.

I found an excellent Painted Hills chuck roast that had excellent marbling of both fat and connective tissue.  This is key, for in a long smoke, both fat and collagen rendered from connective tissue add to a moist end product.  Finding the right piece of meat is quite important for making great BBQ.  The brisket appeared to be more problematic, as it was from Humboldt Grass-fed Beef, it was pretty lean in terms of internal fat and connective tissue was hard to determine, although it is hard to miss on connective tissue in a brisket.  I coated both with a medium coating of Simply Marvelous Sweet and Spicy and then Bob's Top Rub.  This was allowed to sit for one hour.

The BIL's kettle was fired up to 275F with Lazzari Hardwood Briquettes and a little oak.  The meat was put on and the kettle was brought back to 250F for the first hour and a half, then up to 280F to 300F for the balance of the cook.
The meat ran for 6 hours, at which time, fortunately for me, both meats were ready for pulling and resting.  I used a method for testing the meat that involves poking a skewer into the meat, when there is almost no resistance to the probe, I shut down the kettle and let it coast down for 30 minutes to an hour, once the temperature drops to 140F or the meat drops to 170F, I remove the meat and tent in foil. In this case, this meant resting under the foil for 15 to 20 minutes.  I then pulled the chuck, which had a medium bark and dark color.  This is not burned, it is just a dark bark and has no bitterness.

I pulled the chuck into rough shreds and then mixed a little thin sauce into the meat to add a little moisture and punch up the flavor.  I really like a little acidity with BBQ beef and pork, this is one of those cases.  Here is a look at the in-process shredded chuck.
The brisket was then sliced, sadly there are no pictures of the beautiful flat and point slices that came off this brisket.  The meat glistened when cut, and the meat held onto the moisture as it hit the plate.  The point was chopped into chunks and served to the little guys as it was so tender.  There was a little left after dinner...
All of this was served with a sauce I threw together from the stuff hanging around the kitchen.  I found a 1/4 cup of locally commercial sauce, to which I added 1/4 cup Worcestershire Sauce, 1/4 cup, Viet Phu fish sauce, a little dashi (yep, hitting the umami hard) and 3/4 cup rice wine vinegar.  This was then tastes and corrected with a little black pepper, Tabasco and aloe syrup to create a little sweetness and heat.  Brought to just hot, no bubbles, then strained and served alongside the meats after a 1/4 cup was mixed into the pulled beef.  Good stuff, on the thin side with a good kick of sour and sweet and a umami hit.  It went great with all the beef.


  1. Nice lookin' roast Bob! I have one ready and waiting for the weather to clear up a bit. It's hard to keep a grill temp stable when the air temp is just above 0F :)

    Pyro Rob

  2. Wow, I'm getting hungry and inspired reading through your flurry of holiday posts. That pulled chuck plate shot looks ridiculously good. Did the brisket flat turn out tender despite the lean quality of the meat?

    I'm inspired to do pulled chuck this weekend and love the idea of your sauce. I'll have to have Michael drag a nice chuck up here to Tahoe has there are no exceptional meat markets closer than Reno.

    I'm guessing the generous fish sauce addition added a deep rich flavor without much fish flavor. Could you taste the fish? I find it simply enhances and adds richness to things like this and most my diners have no idea it is there.

  3. Anon, I think I would wait on warmer temps as well. something higher than 0F for certain.

    Rob, no discernible fish taste, or aroma for that matter. I do not fully understand how that works, something so pungent seems to dissipate once blended. The flat was fine, perhaps a little dry as it cooled, but, plenty moist when warm, it reminded me of how collagen plays a key role in brisket.

  4. You are making me want a brisket so bad but I've got butts thawing right now.

  5. I was gonna do a butt, but, the request was not for a butt in the end.