A BBQ Disaster Narrowly Averted

On Sunday I blogged and tweeted about smoking a Kobe brisket with Bellville Meat Market rub. @BBQsnob, the guy behind the Full Custom Gospel BBQ website tweeted about how good it sounded and I ended up inviting him and his family over for lunch on Memorial Day.

Sounds lovely, eh? It was…until I noticed something weird going on in the smoker.

At seven on Sunday evening, after eight hours of cooking, this Kobe brisket wasn’t getting done. After a little probing and a test slice, I deduced that it wasn’t a brisket. I had in fact been barbecueing a Kobe flank somebody sent me. I had grabbed the wrong unmarked package of Kobe meat in my freezer. It had a fat end and a skinny end and a thick fat cap, so I thought it was a brisket. (My friends at the A&M Meat Science Center would be so ashamed of me.) Now I had a famous BBQ critic coming over for lunch and nothing but some really tough meat to serve him.

I went to HEB to pick up some ice and beer and while I was there I noticed the Memorial Day specials. Briskets were on sale for 95 cents a pound. Unfortunately, the only ones left were oversize monsters. I took home a 14 pound brisket, seasoned it up, and threw it on the smoker around 8 pm. At 5 in the morning, after 9 hours of smoking with hickory at 250F, it was only showing an internal temperature of 140 F. So I wrapped the sucker in foil and kicked the smoker up to 300 with a big pile of charcoal. I hit the 180 F mark with a hour to go until lunch.

Meanwhile, I borrowed the smoke-braising technique from my new book The Tex-Mex Grill. I submerged the smoked Kobe flank in a tomato-ancho chile broth in a roasting pan and simmered it in the oven at 250 F for four hours until it hit 180 F. Then I poured off some Kobe fat and tomato-ancho, pureed it, and used it to make barbecue sauce. I also reserved about a cup of the fat and simmered it with garlic and salt to make a finishing sauce for the brisket slices–just like the garlic butter the legendary cook-off competitor Harley Goerlitz likes to pour over his brisket just before he sends it to the judges table–only with Kobe fat instead of butter.

Not only was disaster averted, the whole mess of meat tasted pretty damn good, if I do say so myself. And @BBQsnob turned out to be a real nice guy. So after a little late night Q stress, it turned out to be a pleasant Memorial Day.

5 thoughts on “A BBQ Disaster Narrowly Averted

  1. Brazos

    Good save! I like the trick of the finishing sauce. I bought one of those big HEB briskets as well. Hope to cook it this weekend.
    So all it takes to get a invite to your house is a positive tweet? 🙂
    bought two of your books at St. Arnolds. Great reading. Will buy the whole collection.
    – does that get me an invite? 🙂

  2. Jeff

    And I can attest it was all amazingly delicious. Brilliant save!

  3. Michael

    How many times have you showed up at our house when we had no plan for dinner and pulled out a winner…

    I think you can find the start of all this in “wash ’em up, chop ’em up, put ’em in the oven…

  4. Stephen Joseph

    Sounds sort of the type of problems I have encountered smoking meat for a living. Nothing goes as planned and sometimes you have to pull out all of the stops to save the day.

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