How Tim Byres Smokes His 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 Tim Byres of Smoke how he smokes his brisket. (You might have heard that The Mr. Chef Byres won a James Beard award this year for his cookbook, Smoke: New Firewood Cooking. No big.)

Here are his answers to our shigging:

What is the name of your smoker??? El Jefe for the smoker and War Dragon for the grill out back (which was the original name my boys wanted to give my dog because it sounds badass).

What kind of smoker is it?? A.N. Bewley fixed shelf Model 1100

How old is it? 6 years old. It was originally made for Emmitt Smith & we picked it up once he decided it was too big for the house.

What kind of capacity does it have? It has three shelves of 10ft lots. 1 whole 300 lb pig, a dozen briskets, 30 racks of ribs and some chickens and sausage. It has never stopped cooking and everything is cooked in rotations.

At what temp do you cook your briskets??? Generally it's 225 across the top shelf, the lower two change about 25 degrees each step down.

?For how long do you cook them?? An hour a lb.

Do you have a complicated rub, or do you keep it simple? Depends on who you talk to. Mine has coffee, chile, sugar & my book.??

What's in your rub? The answers you seek are in the book.

Do you inject? Do you spritz? No, we have but the more you mess with things it seems to become more of a we currently pass.

Do you mess with the brisket while it's cooking (move it around inside the smoker, or flip it or make out with it)? It starts high, then about 3/4 of the way it is wrapped in paper, then dropped a shelf to a lower temp.

What internal temp do you shoot for? We pull at 185 degrees and it rests to 190.

?For how long do you let your brisket rest? A couple of hours??

Brown paper or foil wrap??? Paper

?What kind of wood do you use when smoking your briskets? Oak, Hickory, Pecan??

What's your personal preference, lean or fatty? A mix, all fatty is not something I can eat all the time.

What kind of smoker do you have at home?? Home made tank end fire pit/grill/Smoker, patent pending. ? If you were just smoking meats on the weekend at home for friends, where would you buy the goods? The meat locker at SMOKE.

I've seen you build a barbacoa pit from scratch, and then cook on it. Any plans to start building smokers? Please? Yes, my style is scrap metal, brick and wire....As always I have big plans: Food-Fire-Glory

Many thanks to Tim Byres and Smoke for putting up with our shigging this week. If you don't already own a copy of his book, buy one. It's fantastic. And if, after purchasing that book, you're not busy digging a hole in your own backyard for a new barbacoa pit, try copying Byres' brisket method. If you spend all night slaving over a pit and wake up only to fail, you can always soothe your meat pain with Smoke brunch.

Whatever you do, smoke some meats this week. It's summer, dammit. And this is America.

KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
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