Memorial Day! The end of school and summer is near in Texas and grilling and smoking season is on us. There is simply nothing better to our family than cooking outdoors and not heating up my kitchen in the hot summertime. Memorial Day weekend for many is their first vacation of the year and in our family, it always means spending it at the lake swimming, fishing and eating all our meals cooked outside on the smoker or grill.
This year we’ve been saving one of the Hereford briskets to smoke on my husband’s ‘newly’ refurbished smokers. My husband loves to improvise as most men do and recently rebuilt a barbecue pit for us to use at the lake. I’ve offered many times to buy him a new one…but that would just would not do! This past fall as we fired it up for the first time, I realized once again, that new isn’t always better. His ‘new’ old grill smoked up fantastic beef ribs and brisket.
For years when we grilled, we usually prepared enough for a crowd and this year will be no exception during our long weekend at the lake. We love having people out to eat with us and spend some time just enjoying the holiday and Hereford beef like this brisket is always on the menu.
The secret to a great brisket is simple – low and slow. That means low heat and let is cook slow…for our family that means around eight hours. Some forethought and planning should go in to which meal you will serve your brisket for either your lunch – midday meal, or evening – dinner or supper as we say in the South. Some of our friends wrap their briskets in foil to cook, but we prefer to let them smoke uncovered and soak in the rub we use the night before to help it marinade before cooking.
The heat Scott uses falls between 225 and 250 degrees Fahrenheit to help ensure even cooking and that slow method of smoking the meat. Watching the fire takes the entire family throughout the day to make sure that another log doesn’t need to be put it the firepit or the smoke pipe doesn’t need to be adjusted to keep the temperature of the smoker consistent.
For those of you with smokers that are regulated by electricity, you will not have to deal with watching the fire. Do however make sure that you check the smoker to make sure the power is still on throughout the day. Nothing is worse than to walk away for hours and realize nothing has been cooking.
Years ago, I found a wonderful brisket BBQ rub that I have been using ever since. It is heavy on the brown sugar and we think just perfect on a Certified Hereford Beef brisket. After pat drying your brisket with paper towels to remove any excess moisture, apply the seasoning to the meat and let is stay on it overnight in a large tub in your refrigerator covered over the top with plastic wrap. This allows The Ranch Kitchen’s BBQ rub to soak in just a bit and marinate your meat. Once you’ve removed your brisket from the refrigerator and placed on the heated smoker, sprinkle even more of the rub on your brisket, smoking the meat with the fatty side up and close your BBQ pit allowing the meat to cook for 8 hours on the even heat. If you have a fatty brisket you may choose to remove the some of the fat off the meat, but do leave at least 1 inch on to help season the meat as it smokes.
Halfway through the smoking process as our brisket cooks, we will sometimes throw on some beef ribs, cabbage and my squash and zucchini with potatoes from our garden for the final 3 hours of smoking. We love, love the smoky flavor the pit gives these vegetables and you just cannot beat having all your meal done at one time. You can use the same rub as used on the beef brisket of the seasoning of your choice on the cabbage, squash and zucchini with potatoes. Do smoke these vegetables by placing in large foil pans covered again with additional foil on top to form a seal. I like to place about two cups of ice cubes in with the squash, zucchini and potatoes to help them roast and retain more of their natural juices. This little trick with ice is something I’ve used not only on the smoker, but on the grill and oven when I cook with foil.
For your cabbage, you can smoke it whole with the core removed or cut in fourths, then lightly oil or butter, season and wrap tightly in foil. Make sure your foil seals tightly, to hold in juices and help it not dry out.
As you can see here, I sometimes cook my squash in a big Wok in my outdoor kitchen. Find the recipe for the vegetables here
The last two hours, make sure to check your brisket with an internal thermometer as you will want your brisket to register at 195 degrees Fahrenheit before you take it out of the smoker. If you cook your brisket too long, it will result in a tough and chewy brisket. So, it’s best to check it about hour 6 or 7 to make sure you don’t need to remove the brisket from the smoker. You can use the fork method to also check for doneness. When the fork is inserted in and you twist, the meat should move easily and pull apart.
Once you have taken your brisket off the smoker, allow it to cool slightly for five minutes to seal in juices and cut/knife against the grain. Set in a foil pan and cover with foil until you are ready to eat. Serve with a great Kansas City or Texas style BBQ sauce or without. Certified Hereford Beef is great with little to no sauce!
I hope you will try The Ranch Kitchen’s BBQ Brisket Rub this weekend. The ingredient list isn’t long or expensive and you’ll find that you can use on both your beef and vegetables and even other meats to get the same wonderful results.
Brisket usually doesn’t last past the first day when we smoke it. But, when we’ve cooked several up, the leftovers are always wonderful used to make anything from brisket tacos, brisket nachos, brisket enchiladas/fajitas, my Beef Stroganoff, on top of pizza we’ve cooked on the grill, or in my easy and quick Brisket Beef Stew!
Find the recipe for brisket fajitas here
You will also want to try this recipe from Certified Hereford Beef for their Texas Two Bite Brisket Sliders
So, if you are considering smoking a brisket this weekend, chose Hereford beef and try our favorite BBQ Rub below.
The Ranch Kitchen’s Hereford BBQ Brisket Rub
4 cups brown sugar
2 tablespoons Paprika
2 ½ tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 – 4 teaspoons black pepper (try 2 tsp. first, taste and add according to your heat index)
Mix all ingredients together and rub on brisket liberally. This rub can sit on the brisket overnight or go on right before you place your beef on the grill. Make sure to rub all excess moisture off your brisket before applying the rub as it will stick to the beef better.
Sprinkle rub on brisket once more after removing from the refrigerator and before placing on your smoker, grill or oven.
I usually double or triple this recipe to use also in those vegetables we cook on the smoker as well.
And if you do not have a smoker, your oven or grill will work just fine!
In closing, enjoy your Memorial Day vacation or staycation at home. Let us all remember the reason we celebrate and be thankful to all those who have fought, protect and made the ultimate sacrifice so that we may all live in this great country we love so much.
Happy Memorial Day!
The Ranch Kitchen