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Cherry-smoked brisket with Brook's Java Rub

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TasunkaWitko View Drop Down
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    Posted: 02 August 2014 at 18:29

Alrighty - it's brisket time here at the hacienda; I've got a 12.5x-pound hunk of beefy wonder that is going to experience several hours of sweet cherry smoke, but first I need to do a little prep work with it.

First, I'll trim the fat cap down to 1/4 inch, then slather it with a mixture of Dijon mustard and Worcestershire sauce. Then, I'm going to give the brisket a generous application of a rub shared by my friend, Brook:

Java Rub

6 tbls finely ground coffee
1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tbls sea salt
2 tbls brown sugar or powdered honey
2 tbls Hungarian sweet paprika
2 tsp garlic granules
2 tsp black peppercorns*
2 heaping tsp coriander seed*
2 heaping tsp cumin seed*

*Toasted and ground

I made this rub just a moment ago, with a couple of slight variations due to what I have on hand:

Turbinado sugar (in the raw) in place of brown sugar
Kosher salt in place of sea salt.

The coffee I used is absolutely awesome: Gevalia traditional roast ground coffeefrom Sweden, the land of my ancestors. Since this is going on a beef brisket, I took some advice that Brook gave to me and added a little heat in the form of 2 tablespoons of decent, well-balanced (but not HOT) chili powder.

This rub smells and tastes amazing - I'm looking forward to seeing how it works with the brisket and cherrywood smoke. Brook also shared a coffee-based barbecue sauce recipe that I will probably try with this brisket; I will post on that below.

More to come.....

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Margi Cintrano Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 August 2014 at 07:29
Tas,

This sounds like it is worth a 15 hour flight for !

The flavor profile is just so amazing and the aromas, I can smell them all the way across the Atlantic !!

Can I suggest some oak aged red wines for this delicacy ?

Kindest regards.
Margaux
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 August 2014 at 07:37
The funny thing is, a 15-hour flight might be just about right! I figure I am about halfway through cooking it now - but it's looking good!

We threw it on at about 10pm last night. Temp control was spotty at first, as the offset found her wings ~ but once she did, she began to run beautifully, a testament to the outstanding and easy modifications that she's been subjected to. Throughout the night, she's held steady between 245 and 255, right where I like her to be.

Most impressive has been the charcoal consumption; if she starts to fall below 245, we simply push over 6 briquettes of Kingsford that have been pre-heating on the "far" side of the charcoal basket, along with a small chunk of cherry that has also been pre-heating. Of course, we also add six more new briquettes and a chunk o'cherry back to the far side, so that they can pre-heat for a clean, efficient burn. Then we simply close the lid and watch the temps start to go right back up into range. 

Those who are familiar with offsets might be interested in this factoid: When I fired up the pit last night, I used 3/4 of a "regular"-sized chimney (not the big Weber style) of charcoal; when I put the meat to the heat, the 15.7-pound bag was 3/4 full. Now, there's still a quarter of the bag left. Not bad at all, considering it's been 9.5 hours. These mods work, and work pretty well!

More to come - I took a couple of photos when I put the meat on, and at about at the 9-hour mark. Will post when I can.

An oak-aged red wine would be perfect for this, Margi - we don't have any wine in the house right now (blasphemy, I know! Shocked), but if things go well, I may get a bottle ~ I also still need to settle on a simple side dish; it might just be potato salad, or even macaroni and cheese...lol
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Margi Cintrano Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 August 2014 at 07:47
Tas, 

I would definitely go with a Potato salad or gorgeous Cole Slaw from Brook´s collection verses a pasta. 

The red wine, I would go with an oak aged red, preferably French, Italian or Ribera del Duero, Castilla León, Spain or an Oregon, Washington State or Sonoma California red.

Bodegas ( Winery ) Miguel Torres, produces a reasonably priced oak aged red called SANGRE DE TORO which is a full bodied beauty at reasonable cost. All their reds are of excellent quality and the Price point is for those on a shoe string Budget. 

Go with the potato salad, as it pairs really nice with the Brisket ...

Have a grand lunch !!! Wish I was there !! 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 August 2014 at 11:48
Potato salad it is, with home-made kosher-style dill pickles that we made last year!

Alright, we're moving along ~ I did go ahead and make the coffee-based barbecue sauce mentioned in my opening post. Brook says that it's based on his mother's recipe and therefore goes back to at least the 1950s, long before coffee was the "hot, new trend" in barbecue. Here's the recipe:

Quote Java Barbecue Sauce

In a pot, over medium heat, combine:

1/3 cup of strong, black coffee
1/3 cup of ketchup
1/4 cup Worcestershire
4 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons molasses
A healthy squeeze of lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
Several glugs of hot sauce or to taste. 

Simmer for 30 minutes until thickened.

Caution: This can go from too-thin to too-thick in a heartbeat. So monitor it closely as the time clicks by. If it becomes too thick (keep in mind, like many sauces, it gets thicker as it cools) thin it out with additional coffee and/or ketchup.

Tasting this sauce as it simmers, i like it a lot! Brook cautioned that this sauce might be more suited to poultry and "too sweet" for beef, but it seems fine to me. The molasses I used was blackstrap molasses, which is much less sweet than regular molasses - so perhaps that made a difference.

The only change I made to the recipe above was due to the fact that I have no Frank's Original hot sauce, which I usually use because it has all of the flavour with none of the heat. The "mildest" hot sauce I have at the moment is Tabasco, which might possibly kill my wife, so I substituted with a generous teaspoon of chili powder.

So far, I think things are on schedule - more to come!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 August 2014 at 21:10
Alrighty, at 430 pm, after 18.5 hours, we removed the brisky from the heat, double-wrapped it in heavy duty foil, double-wrapped it further in two towels, and dropped it into a cooler to rest for at least 1.5 hours. 

The brisket looks incredible, and the small piece that "fell off" (with a little help from yours truly) tasted really, really good. It is great to see that after three "brisket-less" years, I can still barbecue one; indeed, this could be my best brisket to date! 

Plain, ol' potato salad - using our family recipe and home-canned dill pickles - will be served on the side, with iced tea and lemonade for refreshment and carrot cake for dessert. If I think about it, I'll get a picture ~ 

Bottom line: I know these bad boys are getting expensive, but do yourself a favour and enjoy one, before summer is over!

(later)

Well, after 2.5 hours of resting in foil/towels/cooler, it was time to serve our eagerly-awaited supper. One note of correction to my previous post: our potato salad was NOT my wife's time-honoured method; rather, it was my oldest son's interpretation of my wife's way of making potato salad. It was quite good, but the photos will look different from my wife's potato salad.

Anyway, the first thing I did was to open up the brisket and separate the point from the flat; this is easily done along a very clear separation between the two different muscle groups that make up a whole, "packer cut" brisket, and a properly-cooked brisket should almost come apart on its own along these lines. I then commenced with slicing (the flat) and dicing (the point). 

The flat sliced very nicely; thanks to a sharper-than-usual knife and the fact that I was fortunate enough to do a very good job at barbecuing this brisket' I am also convinced that proper resting contributes to success in slicing as well. I sliced it as thinly as my limited skills allow and was pleased to see that it was tender and juicy, with a great bark and an adequate smoke ring that could have been better - a goal to shoot for next time. I couldn't resist snatching a couple of pieces off the end and really enjoyed the way that the rub-encrusted bark worked with the beef - very nice!

Once the flat was sliced and set aside, I turned my attention to the point (also called the deckle). If I would have been thinking, I would have converted this into "burnt ends," but no worries; instead, I sliced it into cubes and served them "naked," so that my diners could choose a sauce (or not, as they pleased). The point of a brisket is usually more "fatty" than the flat, so it could have stood to cook a little longer in order to render some of this out (hence the reason that the point is usually made into burnt ends); however, mine was rendered pretty well, and the cubes served as a good, hearty foil to the delicate slices from the flat.

Finally, I plated generous amounts of sliced flat, diced point and sloppy (yet delicious) potato salad and then served supper to my famished family, along with iced tea and lemonade for beverages. As I mentioned above, I left the choice of sauce to the folks who were eating; for myself, I drizzled my brisket with my preparation of Brook's coffee-based sauce and really enjoyed it. It had an intriguing, piquant quality that in my opinion went very well with the beef flavour and the rub/bark. I know that Brook expressed concern that the sauce might be a little sweet for beef, but I must disagree; rather, I found it to serve nicely in balance with the other flavours that were part of the whole, with the robust coffee profile providing a solid, earthy foundation that tied meat and sauce together. Perhaps it is a result of my slightly-different preparation of his recipe, but it worked very well for me, and I recommend it whole-heartedly.

All-in-all, this was easily my most successful brisket yet, and the only brisket I've made that has turned out almost flawlessly. Fork-tender, bursting with juiciness and mouth-wateringly delicious in every way, with an incredibly-delightful kiss of smoke from the cherry wood, I have absolutely no complaints about it. If every brisket that I barbecue from now on turns out this good, I will be happy; however, I hope that I can exceed this effort and do an even better job in the future.

Thanks for following me on this journey - a few photos will be posted as soon as I can get them prepared.

Ron
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gonefishin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 August 2014 at 08:21
   Hello Ron...great job!

  I've been quietly watching and reading this thread to see how things turned out.  Let me first say, and this is to Brook also, the recipe looks awesome!  From the rub to the sauce...I really like the flavor combination.

   It sounds as though the smoke went great!  I do have a few questions though.  At nearly 19hours, of smoke time, what temperature were you at in the smoker?  I really haven't smoked too many briskets, myself.  This is certainly something that has to change!  

What temperature did you cook the meat to, and did you find a variance between the temp on the flat and the point?  When I have cooked the full packer, there always seems to be that difference in finding the sweet spot on each portion (flat and point).  I love when the point is nicely rendered...but then the flat seems a little over done, and vice versa.  But, as I said...I haven't got tons of practice on brisket.  Lastly, you mentioned a kiss of cherry wood...is this the only wood you used for the smoke, or did you use a main primary wood and then finish with the cherry?

  thanks...

  Dan
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 August 2014 at 18:10
Dan - I'll try to answer your questions here:

Quote At nearly 19hours, of smoke time, what temperature were you at in the smoker?

The cooking temepratures started out in the 225-degree range for the first four hours or so of the cook (promoting a good smoke ring); as it progressed, I brought the temperature up to the 240-degree range and maintained this temperature pretty well throughout the biggest share of the cook. Eventually, during the last three or four hours, I held the temperatures to the 250-degree range; these "ranges" assume a little bit of variance (probably 5 or 10 degrees on either side of the temps listed above) that comes with adding fuel/wood, occasionally tending to the meat etc.

Quote What temperature did you cook the meat to, and did you find a variance between the temp on the flat and the point?

My "target temperature" was about 188-190 degrees in the flat, which seemed to be just right in order to get the connective tissue rendered for a tenderness that would allow it to slice beautifully, but not so much as to dry it out. To me, this 188 degrees seems to be the "sweet spot" you are describing, but I must stress that I believe the foiling/toweling/resting does contribute to the quality of the finished product. Too many seem to take the brisket too high, forgetting that the temperature rises and the meat continues to be affected by heat as it rests. Even after 2.5 hours of resting, the brisket was still piping hot, and I am sure that during the resting time, things were going on.

As for the point, I knew that it would be finished a while before the flat, but the sheer fattiness of the point protects it from the heat while the flat catches up. I believe that this is another important factor that folks sometimes forget. During this time, the fat renders down pretty well, but we still had a few "fatty chunks" in the cubes that we ended up with. I could have gotten better rendering by removing the point earlier and cutting it up as described above for burnt ends, but for this cook, my main objective was to observe the relationship between the point and the flat, so I settled for slightly-less rendering in favour of knowledge and experience. My observations after this cook are that the point is more like a pork shoulder, which is full of fat and is much more forgiving where higher internal temperatures are concerned.

Possibly important: throughout nearly all of the cook, I kept the brisket aligned with the larger, fattier point toward the heat source, to act as a buffer for the more sensitive flat; I did occasionally flip the entire brisket over, top-to-bottom - for even cooking, but in general it spent most of its time fat-cap-down for the first part of the cook (with the fat acting as a buffer to protect the meat from the heat below so that it didn't cook too fast) and fat-cap-up for most of the latter half of the cook, so that the rendering fat could be brushed all over as baste to protect the meat. However, when the point passed 180 degrees in temperature, I reversed this alignment, positioning the flat closer to the heat source so that it could come up to temperature more (it was "stalled" at about 158 degrees at this time); meanwhile, the point - now facing away from the heat - could slow its ascent in temperature - the fat continued to render in the point, but the flat was able to catch up in temperature as described above.

Quote Lastly, you mentioned a kiss of cherry wood...is this the only wood you used for the smoke, or did you use a main primary wood and then finish with the cherry?

I used cherry wood chunks throughout most of the smoke - at least 12 hours of it. Some say that you only need to have smoke on it for 4 or 5 hours but I like to go longer and haven't yet had any problems. I keep the smoke light and reasonable throughout - maybe slightly heavier right at the beginning for a better smoke ring - and I always pre-heat the wood (and the charcoal too, for that matter) on the "far" side of the charcoal basket away from the main pile of burning coals, in order to get a clean burn and clean smoke before adding it to 'the fire." The best smoke for flavouring meat is the stuff you can't see, in my opinion, and most of what you can see is dirt and/or water vapor, so a clean burn makes sense to me. The proof is in my wife's evaluation of my barbecue - since I've started using this method, I have had absolutely no complaints from her about "over-smoked" or "bitter-tasting" meat - but, I get great smoke rings (usually) and very nicely-infused sweet-smoke flavour! :thumb:

Hope this helps -if you have any more questions or need any further clarification just ask!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gonefishin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 March 2015 at 14:17
   Tas, I never thanked you for your thoughtful response...I apologize and thank you!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 March 2015 at 21:56
No worries, Dan - I've got photos of this outstanding cook that I still need to post...will try to get them up soon.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 April 2015 at 17:21
Alright, I know it's been a while, but I finally have the photos formatted and uploaded from this cook, just in time for some spring barbecuing action!

Note - If you haven't already, go back and read through the thread in order to get the idea behind this barbecue, along with detailed recipes for the Java Rub and Sauce, the method by which this brisket was cooked etc.

Anyway, here we go ~

Here's the rub, after mixing all of the components together:


As you can see, there are a lot of nice things going on here!

For this brisket, I applied a Worcestershire-and-mustard slather prior to the rub that worked really well:


It's almost as if the combination was made for beef!

Here's the brisket, all ready to go; after taking this photo, I wrapped it in saran wrap and put it in the fridge for a few hours in order to give the slather and rub time to get acquainted with the beef:


Here's a shot right after I put the brisket to the heat:


At first, I put it fat-cap up, but then immediately flipped it so that the fat-cap could be on the bottom in order to protect the meat from the heat a bit. As a result, I hash-marked it a bit, but no worries.


Here is the brisket after about 9 hours over sweet cherry smoke:


And here's the finished brisket, which I pulled from the heat right at 188-190 degrees internal temperature; after taking this photo, the brisket got swaddled in foil for a nice resting period:


Separating the flat from the point after resting:


These slices might be just a bit thick, but it had been quite a while since I had barbecued a brisket, and it took me a few minutes to get myself back in the saddle. The good news is that thickness wasn't really an issue anyway; this brisket turned out so tender that it was all good - juicy, flavourful and just right:


How about that smoke ring? Things really came together well for this brisket, and I found myself very impressed with it before I even tried it!

Some more slices here - a bit thinner once I got the hang of it:


No burnt ends this time around, due to the already- long, long cook and the fact that I wanted to get an honest evaluation of the Java Sauce; instead, I simply piled the platters high with a mix of wonderfully-tender slices from the flat and cubes from the point:


And here we are, plated alongside some potato salad that was also pretty darn good:


That's what I have, folks - as I said, the rest of the details can be found in the posts above - if anyone has any questions, please let me know - but in the meantime, I strongly recommend giving this a try for your next brisket or chuckie barbecue. It was impressive, to say the least, and quite easily my best brisket so far.

Enjoy!

Ron
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AK1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 April 2015 at 17:47
And you never invited me over??????

Dang! That looks amazing Ron.  Nice job.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gonefishin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 April 2015 at 18:49
    Clap  looks great Tas!  another job well done!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 April 2015 at 22:12
Thanks, guys - this is probably going to be my "go-to" method for brisket.... It as that good! Tongue
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 August 2016 at 11:56
Bringing this back up to the top, as I will be making it today. I had intended to use a 3.x-pound brisket, and the package (wrapped in butcher paper) said brisket, but when I opened it, it was a very large rolled-up chunk of flank. No worries, I'll give it a go, and see what happens....

I made the rub pretty much as before, except I used coconut sugar in place of brown sugar. I am loving this unique sweetener more and more for applications such as this, and it really adds a nice touch. Also, as before, I added two tablespoons of good chili powder, since it really makes the rub sing for beef.

After slathering with a German mustard/Worcestershire mixture, I liberally coated the flank with the rub. A few minutes ago, it went into the smoker. I expect results to be pretty much the same as before; hopefully a little better, as I have aim to improve on the technique. As before, I'll make the sauce according to the recipe; I have Frank's Original this time, so it will be added as per the recipe.

The planned side dish will be "Cauliflower Tots" - here's the recipe:

Quote Cauliflower Tots

Ingredients

2 cups cauliflower florets, steamed
1 Egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup chives, chopped
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a large baking sheet with cooking spray and set aside.

In a food processor, pulse steamed cauliflower until grated. Place grated cauliflower on a clean kitchen towel and squeeze to drain water.

Transfer cauliflower to a large bowl with egg, cheddar, parmesan, Panko, and chives. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon about 1 tablespoon of mixture and roll it into a tater-tot shape with your hands. Place on the baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes, until the tots are golden.

This Java Barbecue is simply outstanding, and versatile; it can be used for beef, chicken, pork, venison, and probably any other barbecue or grilling. Give it a try!
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