How Cattleack Barbecue Smokes Its Brisket

In "Shigging," we ask pitmasters to give us some specifics about how they smoke their meats. In the spirit of barbecue secretiveness and competitiveness, they're allowed to lie once.

This week, we're asking Todd David, pitmaster at Cattleack Barbecue, how he smokes his brisket.

What is the name of your smoker?

My main girl is Big Mama and my little girl is Rosie.

See also: How Pecan Lodge Smokes its Brisket

?What kind of smokers are they?

Both are fine girls. The big one is a Modified Ole Hickory. For those couch critics, that means it cooks with 100 percent wood. The little one is a Jambo pit.

?How old are they?

Big Mama was brought to us about 10 years ago as a toy back then. We just acquired Rosie this spring.

What kind of capacity do your smokers have?

Well, so far we've yet to load up to capacity. Big Mama should hold 500-700 pounds of meat when she is full.

?At what temp do you cook your briskets?

I like to keep her nice and hot -- in the 210-250 range -- but sometimes she gets out of hand and can go hotter and quicker.

?For how long do you cook them?

I smoke them until they are done and that is typically 12-16 hours. It's never the same time twice.

Do you have a complicated rub, or do you keep it simple?

Brisket/beef rub is so simple anyone can do it. Pork rub has a few more ingredients but is still simple. My wife, Misty, and Paul Kirk designed it at school many years ago.

?What's in your rub?

Nothing goes better with a good rub than love. Beef rub is salt and pepper only, and always has been. Pork and poultry rub is our balance of sweet, hot, salty and savory. I learned to make it your own footprint. Just balance it.

Do you inject? Do you spritz?

I schvitz a lot more than I spritz. Normally I do not spritz but sometimes I will give a squirty squirt to ribs. I do inject my butts.

Do you mess with the brisket while it's cooking (move it around inside the smoker, or flip it or make out with it)?

I do not mess with my meat while it's reaching utopia. You can just touch it and know when it gets to that magic moment. I do get excited with it, but I have never made out with it. That's a new one.

For how long do you let your brisket rest?

After a bout with Big Mama, those briskets are ready for a drink and a cigarette. I let them rest as long as I can. Usually anywhere from two to four hours.

Brown paper or foil wrap? Pink paper. Paper on briskets and foil on most everything else.

?What kind of wood do you use when smoking your briskets? I use mostly Post oak and hickory. Some times I'll sneak in a little apple.

?What's your personal preference, lean or fatty? Well the first slice of the fatty end if the diamond of the brisket and will bring the most excitement. I do tend, however, to eat more lean brisket since I eat it a lot here and in my travels. It's the true test of great brisket. Hey, just ask Daniel Vaughn.

Do you own any items of clothing that don't smell like smoke?

Nope. My clothes have so much smoke in them, that the sales person at the mall where I was trying on clothes called security because she thought something in the store was burning.

?What kind of smoker do you have at home?

Normally Rosie stays at home except special occasions (lots of work or catering). I have at the house a Big Green Egg and a Backwoods smoker. Love the Green Egg for at home.

?If you were just smoking meats on the weekend at home for friends, where would you buy the goods?

I was told a long time ago, never get your meat where you get your bread. Sam's has a large selection but Costco has better goods. If you want to step up a notch, Rudolph's downtown or Matador Meats in Plano.


Thanks so much to Todd David and all the fine folks at Cattleack Barbecue. David says his sausage-making has gone very well and he'll soon be trying some new flavors. (I'm hoping for turducken sausage, just in time for Thanksgiving. No candy-corn sausage, please.) In November, David "will attend a school by the great Myron Mixon to learn how to do a whole pig, so get ready for some pig roasting." I'm ready. We're all ready. Let's do this.

Remember: You can't spell "fall" without "barbecue." If you don't think that's true, it's probably time to turn in your Texan card.

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Alice Laussade writes about food, kids, music, and anything else she finds to be completely ridiculous. She created and hosts the Dallas event, Meat Fight, which is a barbecue competition and fundraiser that benefits the National MS Society. Last year, the event raised $100,000 for people living with MS, and 750 people could be seen shoving sausage links into their faces. And one time, she won a James Beard Award for Humor in Writing. That was pretty cool.
Contact: Alice Laussade

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