By Bryan Lipscy
Editor’s Note: Guests at last winter’s Rotary Club Barn Dance raved local barbecue master Bryan Lipscy’s beef brisket so much that we asked if he would be willing to share a barbecue recipe for our Memorial Day page so that outdoor chefs enjoying the mild weather might try their hands at Lipscy’s technique.
Lipscy, who is the founder and owner of Monroe’s Dead Man BBQ, graciously shared the recipe for his crowd-pleasing beef brisket. Plan ahead; this process can take well over 12 hours, but it is well worth the effort. It does require the use of a smoker. Use your favorite barbecue rub; a nice selection can be found at Paula’s Wine Knot just south of Monroe on SR 203.
On Memorial Day many families and friends gather together to celebrate the memories of the people who have passed on. Some gather together to salute the soldiers, sailors and airmen (and women) who have been killed in the service of our great nation.
BBQ is about good friends, family and good food. From my BBQ pit I offer a few tips to make your BBQ celebration a success.
BBQ and grilling are two different techniques. BBQ involves the use of indirect heat with wood smoke over long periods of time. Grilling uses direct heat to cook.
First, a note about food safety; the importance of safe food-handling practices cannot be reiterated enough. Unsafe food handling practices can make your guests ill or even kill them. Fortunately, handling and serving food safely is easy when keeping a few simple rules in mind.
1) Wash your hands frequently.
2) Cook meats to the proper internal temperature:
Whole or ground turkey, chicken or other poultry: 165F.
Ground beef, pork, hamburger or egg dishes: 160F.
Whole cuts (roasts, steaks, chops) of beef, pork, veal and lamb: 145F. Allow the meat to “rest” for three minutes before cutting or eating.
Hot dogs and sausages: 165F.
3) Use a stem (or stick) style digital thermometer to measure internal temperatures. Wipe the probe after each measurement. My personal preference is a Thermopen thermometer.
4) Keep hot food hot. Once cooked properly, keep hot food above 135F (57C).
5) Keep cold foods cold. Keep cold foods at or below 41F (5C).
6) Keep raw meats separate from ready-to-eat foods.
Note: It can take 12 or more hours to BBQ a brisket “slow and low.” Plan accordingly.
Brisket can be purchased at many local markets either in packer or flat cuts. This is one of the least tender cuts of beef. With proper knowledge, preparation, and cooking it is a fantastic addition to any BBQ celebration.
A packer brisket contains cuts from two separate muscles taken from the breast beneath the first five ribs. A packer brisket can weigh in at about 20 pounds with both the point (or deckle) and the flat. The flat is leaner and produces the strip cuts most people are familiar with. The point or deckle is more flavorful due to its additional intramuscular fat. The deckle produces nuggets of beefy goodness called burnt ends.
Local retail grocery stores generally carry only the flat. My personal preference is to use a packer brisket.
To smoke a brisket you will need a brisket, a rub, plastic wrap, foil and an aluminum pan.
Start by washing your hands and cleaning the sink. Next, in the sink, remove the meat from the package and rinse it in cold, clean water. No soap is needed – it’ll make the meat taste nasty. This rinse washes off the natural meat juices. Do not save juices from the package. They are not needed.
Once rinsed, pat the brisket dry with paper towels. This will make it easier to work with the meat. Wet meat is slippery, making it difficult to cut a moving target.
Lay the brisket flat-side-down on a cutting board. With a large, sharp knife, trim a slice off of each long side of the brisket to remove fat and expose fresh muscle. Most briskets come with a thick layer of fat called a fat cap. Opinions vary widely as to keeping or trimming the fat cap. My preference is to trim the fat cap down to about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Then score the fat cap just down to the meat, deep enough to expose the flesh but no deeper.
Now flip the brisket over so the flat is facing up. Take a very sharp knife (I use a paring knife) and clean the flat. Remove fat and silver skin. Silver skin is a semi-translucent skin (or sheath) attached to the meat. Silver skin will toughen up and become inedible during cooking. The more muscle tissue exposed, the more smoke and spice will flavor your brisket.
Once the brisket is all trimmed, cut a notch off the corner of the flat perpendicular to the grain of the meat. This cut will later become the starting point for slicing the flat. Generously sprinkle rub on all surfaces of the meat. Shake any excess rub off the meat. Wrap the brisket in plastic wrap and store in the bottom of your refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or as long as overnight.
Preheat your smoker to about 250F.
Remove the brisket from the refrigerator and let sit until the smoker is ready. Place the brisket in the smoker, fat-cap-side-down. Add wood to your smoker. Ideally, you want just enough wood to produce a thin blue smoke.
Cook the brisket until it reaches 165F internal temperature. Once the brisket reaches 165F – 170F, wrap the brisket in two layers of aluminum foil. Return the brisket to the smoker. Test the brisket for doneness with your stem thermometer. When ready, the thermometer should insert like it is poking into soft butter. Internal temperature should be about 185F-195F.
WARNING: The brisket is hot. There is hot liquid in the foil. Be very careful handling the brisket. Make sure you wear gloves.
While the brisket is cooking, prepare a cooler with several layers of cloth towels. When the brisket is done, remove it from the smoker and wrap it in three layers of towels, then place in the cooler to rest for about an hour.
About 45 minutes before serving, remove the brisket from the cooler and unwrap. The brisket and juices will still be hot. Pour the juices into a separate container. Separate the fat and reserve the juices. Separate the deckle/point from the flat by sliding a wooden spoon or gloved hands between the muscles. Scrape as much of the fat from the flat as possible, then wrap the flat tightly in the foil with ½ cup of the reserved juices. Return to the cooler to keep warm while you are making burnt ends.
To make burnt ends:
Cube the point up into 1 inch cubes of meat. Toss the cubes with rub and put into the aluminum pan. Put the cubes into the smoker for about 30 minutes. After cooking, you can optionally toss with a light coat of your favorite BBQ sauce, thinned with a bit of water or apple cider.
Just before serving the brisket:
Remove the brisket flat from the foil. Locate the notch cut earlier. This notch indicates the direction of the cut. Cut slices parallel to the notch and perpendicular to the grain, about 1/4 inch thick. Place the slices in the reserved meat juices.
Serve the slices and burnt ends together. The slices may be laid out in a shingled or fan design on a clean plate using the burnt ends to accent the slices.
Enjoy your Memorial Day holiday.