I’m still working on getting my spirits back up, to be honest. It’s hard, as I explained in my last post. I feel guilty for being so emotional about my dog. I know that it’s alright to be sad, but I am trying to think positively. I just get to thinking about all the people out there with real problems, like not having enough food to eat or not being able to pay their rent, while I continue to mope around about my dog being sick. My coworkers, friends, and family have all been really supportive and understanding, though, which makes everything easier as I come to terms with her situation. Such is life, right? Kramer and I kept busy last weekend so that I wouldn’t sit around crying, and I’m really glad that we did. On Friday night, we went out to see Amy Poehler speak at 92Y, which was both exciting and inspiring. We had seen her do improv numerous times at Upright Citizen’s Brigade, not to mention being huge fans of all of her television work, but it was refreshing to hear her speak to her experiences and not have to be totally “on” in front of an audience. Before seeing her, we grabbed some extra thin crust pizza and wine at Vezzo near Kramer’s office, and of course, went out for a drink or two after the show. On Saturday, I went and got my hair done to try to put a spring back into my step (who doesn’t love having someone else blow dry their mane during the summer months?), then met Kramer at El Beit for some delicious iced coffee before grabbing yet another slice at the incomparable Vinnie’s (what can I say? We’re addicts) and strolling through Williamsburg Walks. For dinner, we went over to Cafe de la Esquina, a Manhattan favorite that opened an outpost in Brooklyn a few months ago, with our friend Morgan, followed by drinks at the awesome (and newly outdoor section) of Nitehawk Cinema. We relaxed at home on Sunday, making breakfast with some hen of the woods mushrooms (my favorite) and watching a few movies before tucking in for the season premiere of Falling Skies (not enough of you people watch this fantastic show – I suggest correcting this mistake immediately).
Kramer and I smoked this brisket a few weeks ago when we were dog sitting for our friends Valerie and Tom. They have a grill, and, well, we don’t, so I think we may have eaten every meal right off of the barbecue during our stay at their apartment. We had always wanted to smoke some meat ourselves, but lack of space (and lack of a proper grill) has stopped us up until now. It was quite the experience, figuring out how to regulate the temperature of the coals, getting the wood chips to just the right amount, and keeping a keen eye on the whole operation so that the brisket didn’t end up overdone. We used a simple dry rub, let the meat marinate in it overnight, then spent an entire Sunday working. Kramer specifically requested Dr. Pepper barbecue sauce, so I don’t want to hear any “OMG SODA SUGAR BAD” from anyone – you are free to use whatever barbecue sauce your non-processed heart desires, but I figure, if I’m indulging in a hearty helping of delicious, smoked red meat, a spoonful or two of Dr. Pepper barbecue sauce isn’t going to kill me (although I would appreciate confirmation from a certified doctor on this). Kramer and I dug into these brisket sandwiches like it was our last meal, and let me just say, they were deeeelish (you know, short for delicious). I had to push my plate away from me and proclaim NO MORE because it was so good, my hands kept going back for more even though my brain was begging me to stop before my stomach exploded. Pair this smoked brisket with some lemony macaroni salad and juicy watermelon, and you’ve got yourself a winning summer cook out.
Kramer and I saw Amy Poehler speak at 92Y over the weekend – needless to say, it was awesome.
First, gather up your rub ingredients.
Whisk them together in a bowl.
Then rub it generously over the brisket, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for 12-24 hours.
Now, make your Dr. Pepper barbecue sauce.
Saute your onion in some oil until translucent.
Add in the rest of your ingredients, and bring to a simmer until thickened, about 10-12 minutes.
Place the brisket over a drip pan over indirect heat, close the lid, and smoke the meat for 4 hour for a smaller brisket, like ours, or up to 6 to 8 hours for larger cuts. Remove the meat from the grill, wrap it in foil, then place it over direct heat for 30 minutes or so, until the internal temperature is about 185 degrees F.
While you do all of that, please be sure to have a beer or two while you wait.
When the meat is ready, is should look succulent and delicious (see above).
After allow it to rest a bit, begin to thinly slice your meat.
Don’t forget to toast your buns!
Place a few slices of brisket on your toasted bun and top with some barbecue sauce.
- 1 4-6 pound brisket (or bigger, if you are feeling adventurous), dry rubbed (recipe below)
- about 8-10 cups hickory smoked wood chips, soaked overnight
- 1 drip pan, a bit bigger than your piece of brisket
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground mustard
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small onion, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 12-ounce can Dr. Pepper
- ¼ cup tomato paste
- juice of 2 oranges
- ¼ cup cider vinegar
- ¼ cup orange marmalade
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar (optional)
- About 24 hours before you begin grilling, submerge your wood chips underwater - this will make sure that they don't (surprise!) burn to dust. We submerged ours by putting the chips in a large bowl and placed a smaller, weighted bowl on top. Rub your brisket with the dry rub and wrap tightly in plastic wrap, then place that in the fridge for 24 hours, too.
- The day of smoking, prepare your grill by creating two zones on either side of your grill; one for direct heat and the other for indirect heat. Arrange your charcoal on one side of the grill, creating the direct heat zone, and place your drip pan opposite of the charcoal to create the indirect heat zone. Fill your drip pan with about an inch of water and ignite your charcoal.
- Fire your charcoal, giving yourself approximately 30 minutes ahead of your cooking time, to preheat and regulate the temperature of the grill; this may take a bit longer, as all grills are different and, more often than not, wind and air temperature will play a huge factor. It definitely took us about 25-30 minutes to get it right. The grill must reach a stable 225-250 degrees F before you can begin smoking. Once you have your charcoal burning white hot, you can begin to adjust your temperature. Adjust the vents on the bottom of the grill about ⅛th to ¼th of the way open; you will want to leave your top vents approximately half way open. In order to regulate your grill's temperature, you will need to close the lid and adjust the vents accordingly. The more open the vents are, the hotter the fire will burn, so keep that in the back of your mind. You may also have to reduce the number of coals you are using. We found that 8-10 briquettes was an appropriate amount for the right level of heat.
- Once you have stabilized the temperature of the grill at around 225-250 degrees F, dry the wood chips with some paper towels, then add two handfuls on top of the burning coals. Place the brisket, fat side up, over the drip pan in the indirect heat zone and close the lid, ensuring that the vents are over the brisket to draw the smoke up over the meat. Once the lid is closed, you want to keep it sealed to maintain the temperature, opening only to add more chips and charcoal.
- Maintain the temperature of the smoker by keeping a fresh supply of charcoal coming in. If you are using briquettes, you may need to light them prior to adding them to the smoker since they may not light on their own. Add more wood chips when you are adding your new charcoal. We found that we had to add 4 or 5 fresh briquettes every 60 to 90 minutes.
- The amount of time it will take to smoke your brisket depends entirely on your ability to maintain the temperature of the smoker and the size of the cut of meat. Our brisket was relatively small at about 3.5 pounds, so we began to check the internal temperature of the meat at about 4 hours using a meat thermometer every 30 minutes. You want the meat to reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F in this initial phase; it took about 5 hours and 30 minutes for our brisket to reach this temperature.
- Once you have hit 165 degrees, wrap your brisket in foil to ensure that the juices will not escape the enclosure. Place the wrapped brisket over the direct heat and closely monitor the temperature of the meat until it reaches 185 degrees, or about 30 minutes total for our smaller brisket.
- Once the temperature of the brisket reaches 185 degrees F, pull it off of the smoker and let it rest in the foil for at least 30 minutes, or if you can wait that long, up to an hour. Once it is done resting, slice against the grain and serve on buns with your barbecue sauce.
- Heat your oil in a medium sized pan, then add in your minced onion and cook over medium-high heat until translucent, about 5-8 minutes. Add in the garlic and stir until just fragrant, about 1 minute. Add in the Dr. Pepper, tomato paste, orange juice, cider vinegar, and marmalade, and whisk to combine. Cook over medium-high heat at a simmer, stirring frequently, for 15-20 minutes or so, until thickened. Taste, and adjust seasonings as needed. If you like your sauce on the tangier side, you can probably leave it as is, but if you like it a bit sweeter, add about a teaspoon of sugar, taste, and adjust again. Allow the sauce to cool before storing in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks in the fridge.