Two Men, Two Pits and a Blog

The Fine Art of Doing Nothing: How To Smoke A Brisket Point

Part One

The Day Off

There comes a time in a man’s day-to-day, when all the world seems to conspire around him. Where one social posture leads into the next, and for a while at least, brisk5he cannot seem to get his feet on solid ground. Nary can he find a hidden moment even, to catch his breath, and enjoy his inalienable right to watch the clouds slowly idle by. Such was the case here recently, as it sometimes is when one lives a busy life. Drawn henceforth from duty to duty, event to event, it’s easy for a pit jockey to get restless for his craft when he cannot do it. When the ever-whirling cog of society sweeps you under the rug of life, and you are mired there, like a dull, gray moth trembling in a spider’s web.

This weekend last, as the tweety birds cavorted in the morning dew, and the sun came up over the pond, for the first time in a string of many weeks, I found myself the proud owner of an entire day. A day in which, if I so fancied, I could do anything I pleased. No schedules to uphold. No duties to meet. Just sweet time at my disposal. Naturally, then, and without much fore thought, I did first what any red-blooded man would do. I grabbed a wood working magazine and headed for the little pit boys room. There I amused myself with cutting edge articles of mortise and tendon joinery, whilst casually forming my itinerary for the day. The goals at hand today would be lengthy, I concluded, but doable. Whilst still perched on my white throne, in the classic fist-on-chin-elbow-on-leg position suitable to the great thinkers of our time, I nonchalantly chucked my magazine aside, and with steely eyes trained on the far wall, tabulated the plan of attack for my day off. I would, I reasoned, under blue skies and warm breezes, smoke a brisket point low and slow, and by golly if I could help it any, refrain from doing anything else.  It was mission statement I was up for I think, nay,  born for some might say. In point of fact, I already had the pit coming up to speed. Lets head out there now and check out the Weber Smokey Mountain.

Weber 731001 Smokey Mountain Cooker 22-Inch Charcoal Smoker, Black

brisk1

Here in the fire bowl, we have what is known in the smokey arts as the Minion Method. A technique developed by its name sake, one Jim Minion, of high BBQ immortality. If you are going to delve far into the low and slow philosophies, or just want a long-sustained fire in your pit, with minimal babysitting,  then this is the way to go. It really works slick. To learn more about the Minion method, check out our write-up, The Long Burn: The Method of Jim Minion

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In a quaint haze of mesquite smoke wafting up out of the pit,  I plunked on the gastronomic center piece of the day , – a modest 5 pound brisket point, or in fancy talk, a deckle. What ever you wish to call it, suffice to say, it’s an ornery slab of beef that which requires much love, and much pampering. And as the laws of conventional BBQ would have it, about 7 or 8 hours of quintessential pit time, aside curling plumes of wood smoke, and soft, tapered sun beams.  Perfect. Just what I was looking for. It went on fat side up, for to harvest the natural basting effects of rendering fat and gravity. We also filled the water pan below with about two gallons of water for to promote a moist smoking environment, but more than that, to act as a heat sink from the raging fires just below.

The home-made seasoning today was a simple affair to be sure. An ode to the Texan way of doing things, one part kosher salt, and one part black pepper. That’s all a good brisket needs is salt and pepper, thus letting the wonderful beef do the talking. Especially if you’re smoking for a mass variety of palates, going simple is the surest way to please the majority at least.  But for kicks we mixed in a little garlic powder and a shot of cayenne pepper, just because, and to bring a wee more heat to our end game. There was a dash of paprika in there too. Here is the simple rub recipe we concocted.


Brisket Rub

  • 1/2 Cup Kosher Salt
  • 1.2 Cup Fresh Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 Table Spoon Garlic Powder
  • 1 Tablespoon Paprika
  • 1 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper

Before we carry on to Part Two, we would be remiss if we didn’t tell you about the book of books concerning brisket. Aaron Franklin makes the best brisket in the country! How do we know? Well, just read the reviews on his book. You’ll see. We humbly bow to his expertise. Anyways, back to our story.

Franklin Barbecue: A Meat-Smoking Manifesto


Part Two

The Campaign For Nothing

Big black enameled lid in place, and we were off. The aromatic issue of smoldering mesquite soon took aloft, and before I knew it, I was ensconced in my patio man chair, settling in for the day. Left leg crossed over right, lovely beverage in hand, I was ready, doing what I do best – loitering! It didn’t take long tho, for temptations to rear. The tomatoes in the garden, for example, looked a wee bit thirsty. Why it wouldn’t take me but two minutes to give them a drink, I thought. But then that would go against my moral code of the day, which was to do nothing. So I resisted, and the tomatoes went thirsty. I kicked my feet up instead, and trimmed my hat towards the sun, eyes drawn shut whilst enjoying the aromas of curling wood smoke and the gentle clatter of the cottonwood leaves yonder. It was a fine day indeed, to smoke a brisket.

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A few hours into it, I had amassed a commendable tally of tasks that I was able bodied enough to avoid doing. Temptations to productivity that I thus refused. And I was getting pretty good at it too. I resisted, for example, the re-occurring, yet compelling urge to wash my truck. Which turned out, wasn’t really that hard to resist after all. Likewise to scrub out the shower stall, which stood in long need, again wasn’t that tough! Napping however, was allowed I figured, for that is the veritable incarnate essence of doing nothing. Indeed I should aspire, I thought, for as many naps as I could. So when the urge to do something was strong, I just laid down until the feeling passed. I was developing a system that I could have gotten used to, or would have, had it not been for the ribs.

I love ribs. A cannot deny, they flutter about in my dreams, and court my very salivary glands to no end. I long to be in their presence, and admire their mahogany complexion post bathed in sweet hickory. Let me as soon as I can muckle onto a rack and henceforth make it my own. And the thing was, I had a rack in the refrigerator, and it was calling my name. Well I had to respond in kind, if but for the efficiency of the smoker alone. Would be a pity, I reasoned, to run that big old pit with just a wee little brisket on board. What a waste of fuel. It needed company. So before I knew it, the “do nothing treaty” was broken, and a rack of pork ribs lay prostrate on the pit. Tendrils of mesquite rose silent into the air. I settled back into the man chair, content with my biddings and resumed with the heady business of doing nothing.

brisk3

That’s the great difficulty, I discovered, with doing nothing.  You can’t stop to rest! It is very challenging and awkward at best. But it can be done, I’ve concluded, if but in short, well-calculated bursts. You kind of have to work up to it. After a fashion, a few hours at least, you do slip into a beautiful rhythm. A magical span of clock where the hours while away in a wondrous melody patron to the scenic path. You find you do not fight it any more, the urge to rush from one thing to another. That sort of hasty lifestyle is the rhythm of anxious city folk, and not fit for a pit keeper proper. Good BBQ should never be rushed. Instead there is an almost honest embrace taking place, for the leisure at hand. Like a prized trophy wrought from the battlefields of haste. What once was a struggle to sit still,  is now your privilege. What great fun it is to lean back in your chair, in no hurry for once, and just let the world spin headlong with you. Letting up on the accelerator pedal of our lives for to bask at the end of warm sunbeams, where the wood smoke also rises.

brisk4

Take the point to 195-205 internal temperature

We took the brisket to around 200 degrees internal. A brisket is usually tender between 195 to 205. That’s your window of victory. If the thermal probe slides in with little resistance, you probably got it right. We never wrapped it in foil either, tho some do.  It didn’t need to be wrapped no how. The beefy juices fairly oozed forth, and the bark came out a robust, peppery ensemble of flavor. Man! We went about chopping up the brisket next,  for to fashion a BBQ sandwich to match any man’s dream and meatiest ideal. And we declared it good. A good day indeed to smoke a brisket, and for a while at least, do very little else. Amen.

brisket7

Slow Mesquite Smoked Brisket Sandwiches on a toasted Ciabatta Roll with a touch of tangy Sweet Baby Rays. Yum! Top it with slaw Carolina style if you please.


Beyond Brisket Basics: A How-To Guide On Smoking Texas Style Competition Brisket


Postscript: When smoking the big meats like this, it is imperative to watch the internal temperature. If you miss that window of 195 to 205, you’ll probably screw up your supper. There are lots of gadgets for monitoring the temperature. The one we’ve been using for years now is the Maverick RediChek ET-73. A decent performer for a fair price. To see our review of it, click here.  Or check it out on Amazon. We are an affiliate for this product, so a small commission will be sent our way ,eventually, if you go through our link. We do appreciate it.

Maverick M Remote Smoker Thermometer [ET-73] – White

The cooker we used, Weber Smokey Mountain 22.5, was a fantastic performer as usual. Always a pleasure. Check it out also on amazon!

Weber 731001 Smokey Mountain Cooker 22-Inch Charcoal Smoker, Black


This site is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.


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33 responses

  1. This looks amazing! I have a 5 lb corned beef point in my freezer that I’ve been dying to smoke, and I think this post finally has me ready to give it a try…

    September 25, 2014 at 10:22 am

  2. We’ve always wrapped the brisket in foil… I’m not sure I could do it without the foil safety net! Looks great and I’m glad you had a day of nothing! 🙂

    September 25, 2014 at 10:26 am

    • Thank you kindly, Kate. Yeah, I hear ya, sometimes it’s hard to veer from a proven method, but it can be done!

      September 25, 2014 at 12:37 pm

  3. That sounds delicious.
    Honey

    September 25, 2014 at 10:32 am

  4. You had me at brisket! I think it is my absolute favorite meat. We wrap in foil about 30 minutes prior to finishing. Just so much more juicy!

    September 25, 2014 at 11:06 am

    • Yeah, that’s good practice. This point was so fatty, there was just no way it was going to dry out. Plus I was too lazy that day to foil it anyways.

      Brisket is pert near my favorite too.

      Take care
      PotP

      September 25, 2014 at 2:31 pm

  5. As usual… A work of art! Thanks for posting!

    September 25, 2014 at 4:20 pm

    • Likewise thanks for commenting. Always good to hear from you!

      September 25, 2014 at 4:37 pm

  6. Ah, a fine post. Point is the best part of the cow if done right. I like the simple rub. Nice job PotP.

    September 25, 2014 at 5:13 pm

    • Thanks Bill. Was considering turning it into burnt ends, but it never made it that far. Another smoke perhaps!

      Take care

      September 25, 2014 at 6:39 pm

  7. Out of curiosity (and if I missed it in the fine print), about how long was the brisket on the smoker? I’ve never smoked a point before.

    September 25, 2014 at 8:57 pm

    • About 8 hours, Todd. The general rule of thumb is an hour and a half per pound. But of course, as the old saying goes , it’s done when its done. And it’s true. 195 – 205 internal. Somewhere in there it ought to turn tender for you.

      Thanks for asking, Todd!

      September 25, 2014 at 10:28 pm

  8. People don’t realise that there is an art to doing nothing, it can be learned but you have to put your all into it. No half measures, no backing out halfway through the day. Doing nothing successfully is not for pussies. It can be hard work fighting against ingrained lessons from childhood, the threat of subtle nagging from the spouse or even denigration by those who just don’t get it. Doing nothing is an ART. Then when you put great recipes and fine food into the mix then we’re pretty close to perfection. I will however get over the vision of you sitting on the porcelain throne and contemplating your day.
    Cheers
    Laurie.

    September 25, 2014 at 11:43 pm

    • You’re good! Yes, it”s an art to do nothing. It truly is. And you can’t tell me that some of your best thinking hasn’t galvanized on the throne!

      September 26, 2014 at 9:57 am

      • I am! Oh yes , I’ve had some great revelations while sitting on the loo. Read some good magazine articles and comics too. 🙂

        September 27, 2014 at 3:43 am

  9. Amen brother!

    September 26, 2014 at 2:05 am

  10. You eloquently summed up the very reason I ‘Q. Like I tell the wife, a 20lb of Kingsford is cheaper and better than any therapy around.

    September 26, 2014 at 8:24 am

    • Ah, I do like how you think, Mr Dodd! My sentiments precisely.

      September 26, 2014 at 9:58 am

  11. Great things are worth waiting for. Like ribs and brisket for example… Great job o’ Patrons of the Pit.

    September 26, 2014 at 10:46 am

  12. As a Texan, let us say you have done well my friend!

    September 27, 2014 at 10:13 am

  13. Reblogged this on THAT DANG OL' SHOW and commented:
    No Texas Tech game this weekend, but still compelling NASCAR and what the hell, it’s Saturday. Here’s something to stoke your food imagination and inspire you.

    September 27, 2014 at 10:14 am

  14. Perhaps doing a little “something” (as long as it’s pleasurable) during a day you’ve sworn to do nothing is a rest from doing nothing… Or something like that. A fun and inspiring read. As usual it resonates with me over here. Today I have yardwork, but your words will stoke fond memories of less productive things while I do it. Thanks for giving us all something to think about! And congrats on the fine cook!

    September 27, 2014 at 10:53 am

    • Indeed, sometimes doing nothing is really something! Or yeah, something lie that. Good times. Have fun working in the yard, ol chap!

      September 27, 2014 at 2:32 pm

  15. “When the ever-whirling cog of society sweeps you under the rug of life, and you are mired there, like a dull, gray moth trembling in a spider’s web.”

    DUDE !!! … I just LOVE the way you write … I bow my head Sir … oh and … the brisket, … well, what can I add … perfection … AMEN.

    Stay hungry my Smokie Brutha … 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

    September 27, 2014 at 4:54 pm

    • Thanks man. I appreciate that. I really do. Likewise a good brisket sure is a nice way to pass a day. The good life , indeed.

      Get in your motorcycle rides whilst you can. The leaves are a dropping!

      September 27, 2014 at 5:35 pm

  16. Ah yes … the Warbird and I have been together a LOT these past few weeks … the cold weather comes, and I’m never really ready. I STILL have to get a load of firewood … *sigh*

    September 29, 2014 at 8:43 am

  17. Liz

    brisket and ribs–foods of the Gods for sure. Love that the ribs called to you from your fridge. I hear calls whenever I shop at Trader Joe’s–food just wants to jump in my cart. Totally agree about the doing nothing being stressful. I have yet to master. Sounds like I need to spend more time grilling.

    October 1, 2014 at 9:34 pm

    • Ah yes, Trader Joe’s can be like that I’m sure. What’s a foodie to do!

      Thanks Liz. And remember, time spent grilling is not deducted from one’s lifespan! Least wise, that’s what we’re hoping!

      October 1, 2014 at 9:52 pm

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