It’s officially summer in my book. I saw a firefly during dinner last night.
Yesterday, Jeff took the day off and did his annual first-of-June ritual: five pounds of top-cut brisket, four cups mesquite wood chips and six hours of slow smoking. You could smell the barbecue up and down our street. After the meat was off the grill and the juices settled, I took a tiny bite off the end. Yowza! It would have converted any vegetarian.
When Jeff and I were first married, he cooked about as much as I did. We’d take turns making meals, many of which turned out better than anything we’d pay money for. Jeff would find these incredible recipes and impress the heck out of me. Then I started hogging the kitchen. These days, I’m usually the one at the stove. But when it comes to the grill, Jeff holds the spatula.
Barbecue purists say you can’t smoke brisket on a gas grill. This proves that you can. The rub works its way into the meat and fills it with southwestern flavor . However, you have to be patient. Resist the urge to turn up the heat and speed the process. Smoking the brisket takes about six hours.
About ancho chiles: anchos are dried poblanos. They’re the sweetest of the dried chiles, and can be relatively mild. If you can’t find ancho chile powder, you can grind ancho chiles in a spice grinder (that’s what we did) or substitute mild chile powder.
The original recipe calls for ancho sauce. We found that any barbecue sauce is fine.
Brisket with Ancho Spice Rub
Slightly adapted from Bon Apetit via Epicurious
4 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1 tablespoon (packed) golden brown sugar
2 teaspoons ancho chile powder*
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 5-to 5 1/2-pound flat-cut (also called first-cut) brisket with 1/4- to 1/2-inch layer of fat on 1 side
4 cups hickory or mesquite wood chips, soaked in water 1 hour
4 disposable 6 x 3 3/4 x 2-inch mini aluminum loaf pans (for wood chips, if using gas grill)
2 11 3/4 x 8 1/2×1 1/4-inch disposable aluminum pans (for brisket)
Heavy-duty aluminum foil
Mix first 7 ingredients in small bowl. Rub spice blend over brisket. Wrap brisket in plastic; refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours.
For charcoal grill:
Remove top rack from barbecue. Prepare barbecue (low heat). Light briquettes in chimney; pour onto 1 side of lower grill rack (you’ll need to light more briquettes in chimney to replenish 2 or 3 more times during grilling). Drain 2 cups wood chips. Scatter 2 cups wood chips over coals. Return grill rack to barbecue. Heat barbecue to 300°F.
For gas grill:
Remove top rack from barbecue. Prepare barbecue (low heat). If using 2-burner grill, light 1 burner. If using 3-burner grill, do not light center burner. Drain 2 cups wood chips. Stack 2 mini loaf pans (one inside the other); fill with 1 cup wood chips. Stack remaining loaf pans; fill with 1 cup wood chips. Place pans over flame (if using 3-burner grill, place both pans on 1 lit side). Return rack to barbecue. Heat barbecue to 300°F. (If temperature rises too high on 3-burner grill, turn off burner without chips.)
Unwrap brisket and arrange fat side up in 11 3/4 x 8 1/2 x 1 1/4-inch aluminum pan; place pan over unlit part of barbecue. Cover barbecue. Cook brisket until instant-read thermometer inserted into center registers 160°F, adjusting vents or adding more charcoal as needed (if using charcoal grill) or adjusting gas levels (if using gas grill) to maintain temperature inside barbecue grill at 250°F, about 31/2 hours. Baste brisket occasionally with pan juices and add more drained wood chips as needed.
Remove pan with brisket. Discard pan and juices. Wrap brisket tightly in 2 wide sheets of heavy-duty foil. Place in clean 11 3/4 x 8 1/2 x 1 1/4-inch aluminum pan. Return to grill over unlit side, maintaining temperature inside grill at 250°F, until instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of center of brisket registers 190°F, about 1 1/2 hours longer. Transfer brisket in pan to rimmed baking sheet. Let rest at least 1 hour and up to 2 hours.
Carefully unwrap brisket, saving any juices in foil. Transfer juices to small pitcher. Place brisket on work surface. Thinly slice brisket across grain; transfer to platter. Brush brisket with some of juices. Serve with any remaining juices and barbecue sauce.