In "Shigging," we ask barbecue experts 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 I'm changing things up a little from the regular pit master path, and I'm asking Chef Brian C. Luscher of The Grape Restaurant how he smokes his brisket. Luscher is a two-time competitor at a barbecue competition and charity event that I invented called Meat Fight (drink a beer and chug a brisket every time you see the words "Meat Fight" from this day forward Meat Fight Meat Fight). Last year, Luscher took home the Meat Fight trophy for Best Brisket. In short, the man smokes a good meat. And he does it all while rocking a solid beard. Behold: Luscher's meat wisdoms.
You've got a long history with meats, right? My dad was a Union meatcutter in Chicago. By-the-book apprenticeship, humping sides of beef and breaking them down. The whole schmear. When I was a little older, I would hang at the shop after school. He'd try to teach me stuff. I don't know if I rememeber any of it specifically, but I do think it engrained a proclivity towards the Meat Arts.
Luscher is not new to the Meat Party.
Brian C. Luscher
|Brian C. Luscher|
|Luscher is not new to the Meat Party.|
SERIOUSLY...like seriously-seriously...maybe never? A few years? Five to seven years? I would seriously say I am maybe, MAYBE, entering the period that I will refer to as Novice. I worked as a kitchen manager at a Red Hot & Blue in Columbus, OH. I was part of the team that opened the location in 1991. Some time during that year was the first time I desecrated a brisket.
What is the name of your smoker? Ms. Verna
What kind of smoker is it? Diamond Plate Pit. It was a rescue pit. We think it's a Fat40.
How old is it? I think she's at least ten years old September 22, 2011 was the first time I loaded her up.
What kind of capacity does it have? Man...Comfortably..maybe 16 heavy briskets, maybe a couple more. I've had 300lbs of split turkeys on it.
At what temp do you cook your briskets? It's not about the reading on a thermometer, it's all in the coals. The fire, the coals-- they'll tell you everything.That said, I vary temperatures through different stages of cooking. Hot to start. Steady but lively through the stall, and baby it --but don't let it drop-- to finish.
For how long do you cook them? Listen. The brisket will tell you when it's ready.
What internal temp do you shoot for? Jiggly.
Do you have a complicated rub, or do you keep it simple? What's in it? My rub was NOT complicated! The judges were all fundamentalist Texas BBQ pricks...Whoa, sorry. Did I say that out loud? Kosher, fresh cracked, some sug' and some spice. that's it. Pro Tip: Don't get cute with the rub.
Do you inject? Do you spritz? I will neither confirm nor deny having committed the act of injecting a brisket. However, I have been falsely, FALSELY, accused of spritzing by the best in Texas.
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 try not to, but like the siren song leading sailors to their demise, sometimes I cannot resist. I can remember the first time I was caught up in the stall but didn't know anything about it...I did so many bad, bad things to the brisket while it was cooking that day.
For how long do you let your brisket rest? Until it is relaxed...a pretty long time actually. Much longer than I originally thought I would.
Brown paper or foil wrap? Brown, unwaxed, heavy paper. Never foil.
What kind of wood do you use when smoking your briskets? Post Oak with a random stick or two of mesquite thrown on for seasoning
What's your personal preference, lean or fatty? I want my lips to be shiny after eating it.
What kind of smoker do you have at home? An old Oklahoma Joe barrel smoker that's at least twenty years old.
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If you were just smoking meats on the weekend at home for friends, where would you buy the goods? Local Yocal. Ask For Matt. Or, call Artizone and have them deliver it all to the house.
In unrelated-to-brisket news, how long until we can put your Post Oak Red Hot hot dogs in our faces on a daily basis? Saturdays, you can get them at the White Rock Local Market, or you can go to Green Grocer and pick them up anytime, or call Artizone for home delivery. You can even head out to Swiss Pastry Shop and get them from Hans. And soon, we'll get our permit FROM THE CITY OF DALLAS!!!!
Many thanks to Brian C. Luscher for putting up with my shigging this week. And to everyone else, while you're letting your brisket rest this weekend, head over to White Rock Market for a quick Post Oak Red Hot binge. You'll be glad you did.
And remember: Every day is a meat gift.