Pecan-Smoked Beef Brisket has become quite the family favorite when we get together. This year, on our annual trip to cool Michigan, I’m at it again with a couple of twists. I also did baked beans, or in this case smoked beans, on the grill.
I purchased a 13 lb. whole beef brisket at a local grocer then cut it in half to fit the foil pans I use in this process. The brisket portions required some advance preparation. Each portion was trimmed of excess fat then placed in a 2-gallon Ziploc bag and coated entirely with spicy brown mustard—one whole bottle for each half — then placed in the icebox to allow the mustard to perform its magic for 3 days. The vinegar in the mustard does amazing things to brisket. I didn’t get pictures of the prep so I’ll use pictures from this previous post showing how to do brisket to show you the process:
I had never soaked the beef in mustard for 3 days before — usually 1 or 2 days has been the norm — but after this effort I may try 5-7 days next time. It just seems to get better the more it soaks in the mustard.
Grilling day arrived and the beef was removed from the bags and most of the mustard was wiped off with dry paper towels. Some mustard remained but would eventually cook off during the grilling process. No matter what the brisket will not taste like mustard. Prior to the launch of GrillinFools.com I marinated a brisket in mustard and left it on and indirect grilled it for 6 hours. No rub, no mop sauce, just slathered in mustard and smoked indirect for 6 hours. The end result was that the mustard coating became crispy and actually flaked off during the grilling process so don’t be concerned about the mustard left on the beef.
In this episode the first portion is coated with a Texas Brisket Rub:
3 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp coarse salt
2 tsp black pepper
1 ½ tsp brown sugar
1 ½ tsp garlic salt
1 ½ tsp onion powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
½ to 1 tsp cayenne pepper
The other half of the brisket was coated with a commercial rub called Brazilian Beef Rub offered by Spice Islands — a really versatile rub in my opinion:
Here are both briskets ready for the grill:
On vacation we don’t have our typical grills. We don’t have any Big Green Eggs, Charbroils, Brinkman’s or grill manufacturer that shall not be named. We had these pitiful grills furnished by the resort. This picture was taken a couple years ago during our first rib off:
The grills are stoked using a great gadget called a Looftlighter:
This thing is just too cool. It can get a pile of charcoal going in minutes without paper or fluid. You can also use it to light your fireplace. You can find it on Amazon for $80. A product review of this new toy will be along shortly, as well.
Pecan wood is our preferred smoking wood for brisket given past success with this wood and this cut of meat. One of these days I’ll have to try the traditional mesquite wood or perhaps a blend of cherry and hickory. Use whatever wood you prefer or have access to but be aware that too much mesquite or hickory can impart bitterness to the meat. I’ve had great success with pecan so I’m sticking with it. A complete list of more than 50 different types of smoke woods and their characteristics can be found here.
While the third Grillin Fool, Tom, was lighting the grill I prepped the mop sauce.
Mop Sauce Ingredients:
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup beer
1 tbsp garlic salt
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp black pepper
The mop sauce, pecan wood, mop and tongs and we’re ready to grill:
Brisket halves are on the grills at 11:30 AM and was shooting for dinner to be served at 6:30 PM:
It doesn’t take 12-14 hours or more to produce a fine smoked beef brisket. There is no need to begin grilling at 4 AM to have it done at normal dinner time as some would have you believe. We’re true believers in what’s called the high heat method which is all the craze these days. Rather than 12 hours at 200, think more like 6-7 hours at 300 until you get to an internal temp of around 190-200. Several visitors to the site have told me that they have had great results with this method and have become true believers as well. You can catch my son, Scott, discussing the high heat method on a radio show in Houston recently in this link
Here are a couple of photos of both portions one hour into the grilling/smoking process and both halves are browning nicely:
More briquettes are added along with additional pecan wood and the foil pans were rotated to insure even cooking and several dabs of mop sauce were applied as well:
***Editor’s note ~ Always try to do as much as possible each time you open the lid so you don’t have to keep opening it and losing heat thus extending grilling times. Try to mop, rub, sauce, add fuel or smoke wood, etc. all at once so you don’t have to repeatedly open the grill to perform these tasks***
Notice the inexpensive grills being used. They are what was provided by the “resort.” Typically this grill sells for $49 at most big box stores. I snagged one a few years ago, designated as my traveling grill, for $29 on sale. This is what is remarkable about this effort — great tasting, tender, juicy beef brisket on the cheapest equipment available. Take delight in this, especially you backyard grillers on a lean budget. You don’t need an expensive grill to produce great BBQ.
OK — timing is everything. Just after I wrote that in my notes I tried to level one of these older models (I was grilling on a slight incline) and the darn thing broke and collapsed with me holding the firebox full of hot coals with a hot pad in each hand! Did I mention the baked beans shown above were in this grill when it collapsed while I was holding it? No problem! I had the assistance of Grillin Fool Tom and his friend Brad coming to the rescue. They’re not just great salmon catchers, they’re also real helpful when holding a fire hot metal box:
The coals and food were carefully transferred to another grill. Not a bean was lost in the transfer.
Here are a couple of photos of the near-disaster grill—notice the holes in the bottom of the firebox where the supporting legs broke loose!
See those green spots above? Here’s a close up. Those aren’t designed vent holes:
Speaking of the beans, here’s the ingredients.
4—27 oz. cans of baked beans
½ lb. of bacon—chopped and sautéed
¾ cup of brown sugar
½ red onion—chopped and sautéed
1 tbsp of dry mustard (approx.)
Enough molasses to drizzle over the top
These ingredients are poured into a large disposable foil pan, molasses drizzled over the top, and the remaining ½ lb. of bacon strips are cut in half and placed on top as shown:
Set up the grill for indirect cooking (and a temp of around 250) and add some hickory chunks or chips and smoke ‘em for 4-5 hours rotating the pan hourly. Add briquettes and wood every 45-60 minutes as needed.
The benefit of baked beans on the grill? There is no need to fire up the indoor oven—this goes over well in the summertime—no sticky dish to clean and best of all is the smoky flavor imparted to the beans that can’t be duplicated inside.
Here’s a photo of the Texas rub brisket at 4 hours of grilling time:
Next the Brazilian rub:
The Texas rub has regular sugar and thus blackens more than the Brazilian Beef Rub that has turbinado sugar that has a much higher burn point. But don’t worry about the blackness of the first as this is to be expected and not a problem.
Now the baked beans at 3 hours—smokin’ and lookin’ good!
After 6 hours the brisket portions are pulled and foiled and set on top of the warm grills to rest for an hour:
***Editor’s note ~ Resting is vitally important for brisket. When the meat comes off the grill the juices are in an excited state because of the heat. Slice into it right away and the juices will run all over the cutting board. If you let the meat rest, the juices will calm down and remain in the meat. A steak may only need a couple minutes to rest, but a brisket needs an hour. If you don’t have a grill with a flat surface, place it in foil, wrap in a towel and put it in an empty cooler, an oven that isn’t on or a microwave***
Here is a photo of the baked beans after 5 hours. The fire is now low and I’ll simply leave them on till dinner is served:
Here are photos of both brisket portions being sliced. Both were very, very, tender and juicy and both rubs imparted amazing flavor:
Dinner was served and the baked beans really picked up the hickory smoke flavor with the bacon topping was crispy and caramelized. I may have actually enjoyed the baked beans more than the brisket. Was this effort a success with the dinner guests? Here’s a photo of what remained of a 13 lb. brisket — two thin slices!!
If you’ve been leery of smoking a brisket then please understand this was a superb meal created on inferior equipment. Don’t hesitate to give this a try. You just may surprise yourself and your dinner guests.
Oops! Here’s another note—I grilled the beef fat cap up which will be much to the chagrin of The Original Grillin Fool—Scott. You can now expect to see an “Editor’s Note” appear.
***Editor’s Note ~ Fat cap up or down really doesn’t matter unless you are using a mop sauce. The sauce won’t penetrate the layer of fat so it’s a bit of a waste***
If you have any questions about the brisket or beans leave a comment below or shoot me an email.
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