At 10.45am last Saturday, whilst setting the Weber up to cook up some lamb shanks, we got a phone call from Sam's brother. He and his family were down from Tamworth visiting their father at Smithfield, which is about one hour from us. The plan for the night, was for us all to go to the local club for dinner, however it was apparent that her brother was not really keen on the club (to be honest neither was I). Before I knew what I was saying, I had offered to do brisket burgers for dinner (what was I thinking??). After the phone call I realised the only thing I had going for me at that time was that the Weber was already fired up and ready to go - the problem was I had no brisket! A quick visit to our trusty butcher Scott from East Blaxland Butchery, a trip to the shop for burgers and coleslaw ingredients, and an extra fast trim and rub and the 4kg Cape Byron brisket was ready to go. The time was now 11.30am - we had to leave by 4.30am.
Now the thing I love about low and slow cooking, is the fact that it is actually, low and slow. I know a lot of comp teams are doing hot and fast now, but I think it takes away a bit of the theatre of this style of BBQ. There is nothing more rewarding than cooking a massive slab of meat for up to 12 hours and feeling the absolute exhilaration (and exhaustion) when tasting the wonderful flavours from the rendered fats. But unfortunately, this time there was no time for "theatre" - I had 5 hours to get it to at least 203f. At least I love a good challenge!
So here are my secrets to hot and fast BBQ success - dot pointed for your viewing pleasure:
- Probably the best idea is to have a brisket handy, in case you don't have an awesome, local brisket who had briskets readily available.
- Trim it very little. I just took a bit of the really thick fat off, but I figured it was going to cook hot and I am a fat cap down sort of gal, so I figured the fat cap would help protect it from the heat.
- Rub it with salt and pepper, I used about 2:3 salt to pepper ratio. I grinded it up in the coffee grinder so it was still quite coarse, but not too much.
- I found the snake was not hot enough in the Weber, so I pretty much just threw the coals on one side with a tray of water. I set up the Smartfire because I really needed to make sure the heat stayed hot, and of course it held it's temperature beautifully!
- Chuck it on, fat cap down, not directly over the coals. Having never done a brisket this quickly, my knowledgeable mates at Doctor Cue BBQ kept me on track. You want to have the ambient temperature to stay around 350f. Mine went a bit high at one stage, but this brisket was pretty resilient and it didn't seem to affect it too much.
- Once it hits about 160f wrap it up. I poured some beef stock around the brisket just to get some steam going. Wrap it tight and back on - still at 350f.
- It probably took about 2 or so hours to hit 160f and by some miracly, at 4.30pm on the spot it hit 203f. I was so excited!! We wrapped it in towels and it rested for the hour drive in the car.
I was admittedly, a little apprehensive about how it would turn out. We have been talking up this sort of BBQ to the whole family and now it was the day of reckoning! Would it be a failure? Were our catering dreams over before they even started?
I unwrapped it and started slicing. I could hardly look - but to ensure I didn't chop off my finger, I had to be brave. And then - holy cow - IT WORKED!! Anthony - you are a genius!!
The family were impressed!
So if you are ever desperate, you know that hot and fast can work - and it worked very well!