Today guys were going to break down the process of preparing a delicious brisket into four quarters for you. First I want to give a clear understanding why people BBQ and why it is considered an art form. For those of you that don’t know why people ever started slow cooking with a combination of heat and smoke……It was of necessity. If you look at what kind of meat we are using in BBQ you can figure out why it is such a challenge to cook good BBQ. You see meat is Muscle and Muscle is made up primarily of a two-part protein.
First is Actin, it is a thin filament responsible for the motion of the muscle. Second is Myosin, which is what holds it all together, it is the structure part of the protein. The other important component is collagen, collagen helps bind muscle-to-muscle, muscle to bone etc. This brings us back to the art of BBQ’ing. It is the ability to take some of the toughest cuts of meat and make them tender and delicious. If some one out there can cook a great beef tenderloin….well so can anybody. However if you can take a brisket or a pork butt and turn it into something tender and delicious you are an artist. So here we are…..
First Quarter: The day, or days before.
Breaking the meat down. Whether you mix your rub or by your rub two things should be present. Salt and Sugar, other spices vary from here. The salt and sugar when rubbed on the meat immediately begin a process you probably haven’t heard since you were a kid in science class. Osmosis ladies and gentlemen is what is going on when you apply the rub and leave it. Your applying osmotic pressure to the meat drawing the moisture out while at the same time salt, sugar and spice are drawn into the tissue. The time and amount of rub used will determine your final result. It is a delicate dance if you take all the moisture out you will have to be very good at controlling your temperature later to ensure a moist finished product…moving on
Second Quarter: The first raise in temperature
Between about 50 to 120 degree’….Guys don’t get confused I’m not talking about your chamber temp here I am talking about the meat temp. As the heat from your clean fire, passes over the cool internal temperature of the meat vapors are created as well as an acid it is this nitric acid that dissolves on the meat surface and creates the pink tint or
smoke ring. The better the artist the deeper the ring. This process occurs only with a meat temperature below 120 degrees. So here in lies the skill of controlling your fire to match the right meat temperature. Once you take it past 120 inside your meat you are working on tenderness and no longer flavor.
Third Quarter: Breaking it down.
At 120 Degrees the connective tissues we spoke of earlier have been heated and the muscle is even tougher than when we started. As we continue to smoke/cook our way to 160 degrees in our meat another transformation happens. The shrunken collagen/tissue that holds the muscle together begins to turn to gelatin and it is this gelatin that gives us the moist, almost creamy soft delicious texture great BBQ should have.
Fourth Quarter: The Strive for perfection.
Another 20 Degrees internal temperature and we are at 180. Here is where everything gets personal for BBQ’ers. Some wrap their meat in foil; some mop sauce on it as well as many combinations of both. I’m not going to tell you my method…well because it is what makes mine unique. I will tell you that once you get your meat to internal of 180 to 190, no matter what you did to it between 160 and 190 it’s time to wrap it in foil and set in a cooler. And leave it for several hours. The meat will continue to cook and even the temperature throughout. If you had in foil prior to placing in cooler, drain the juices and add it to your sauce if desired, but to drain before placing in cooler. When your ready to serve it unwrap it and let it cool a bit and slice across the grain.
Remember folks we did not climb to the top of the food chain to eat vegetables only!