How Lockhart Smokehouse Smokes its Brisket

In a new series we're calling Shigging, we'll be asking pitmasters to give us some specifics about how they smoke their meats.

If you're unfamiliar with the term "shigging," here's our definition: An attempt to steal secrets from a barbecue badass in order to make your own barbecue better. Some people try to sneakily shig. They creep up to the wood pile and try to figure out whether it's oak or mesquite. They lean over the pitmaster's shoulder as he sprinkles the rub. They offer the pitmaster a beer and then ask how many pounds his average brisket weighs. And much, much worse.

We won't be sneaky about our shigging -- we're going to be obnoxiously upfront and direct about it. And if you've ever been obnoxiously upfront and direct about trying to steal secrets from someone, you know that one or two of the answers they give you back are probably a little bit of a stretch from the truth.

Which is why, in our interviews, we have asked our pitmasters to answer honestly for every question -- except for one. So, every time we ask these questions, we'll get truthful answers for every question, plus one answer that's a lie. We won't tell you which one is a lie, you'll have to figure that out for yourselves.

This week, we're starting with Damian Avila, pitmaster and General Manager at Lockhart Smokehouse in Bishop Arts. And we're starting by asking everyone about the most holy of all smoked Texas meats: brisket.

Avila's answers to our questions were short and sweet. Just how we like 'em.

What's the name of your smoker? Firehouse 44

What kind of smoker is it? Bewley

How old is Firehouse 44? 3 1/2 to 4 years

What kind of capacity does she have? 35 briskets (about 600 pounds)

At what temperature do you cook your briskets? 230F

For how long do you cook them? 14 to 16 hours

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

What's in your rub? Salt, Pepper, Shark Tears

For how long do you let your brisket rest? 45 minutes

What internal temperature do you shoot for? We know it's done by the way it jiggles.

Do you use brown paper or foil wrap? Wrapping ? I don't think so.

What kind of wood do you use when smoking your briskets? Post Oak

What's your personal preference, lean or fatty? Fatty

What kind of smoker do you have at home? Custom-made

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

Many thanks to Lockhart Smokehouse for putting up with our shigging this week. And this weekend, you've got a couple options: 1) Fire up your smoker and make your best attempt at a copy of Lockhart's delicious brisket by staying up 14-16 hours and cuddling your brisket while it cooks to a nice jiggle. 2) Sleep the sleep of the angels, then wake up late, put the car in Drive and head to Lockhart Smokehouse to enjoy Avila's handiwork.

Whatever you do this weekend, make sure "and then I ate too much brisket" is on the list.

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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