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Summer has begun and the weather is in full swing. If you are like us, we avoid using the stove as much as possible. There is no sense creating more heat on a hot summer day. Over the summer months, we will be focusing on recipes that break the chains of the heat-making oven. From the grill, to instant pot to crock pot, we are lowering the temperature in the kitchen while kicking up the flavor on your table.

This month we are doing beef brisket two ways: the classic slow cooked smoker/grill version, for those of us diehard grill masters who take pleasure in manning the smoker for eight to ten hours on a Saturday; and the crock-pot version, which allows you to throw it in the crock before you head out and lets it slow cook all day long.

Of course, you need a tasty side dishes to go with your brisket, and this month we have a super fast coleslaw to make in advance which will not only free up your kitchen, but also your meal time prep.

Texas-Style Smoked Brisket
Serves 6

For our diehard smokers/grillers out there, this is a tried and true Texas style brisket recipe I got from one of my favorite websites, AmazingRibs.com. This geekophile, food-science-oriented resource shares tried-and-true barbecue recipes, and breaks down the best ways to prepare your favorite cuts of meat for the smoker/grill. Meathead Goldwyn (yes, that is his moniker) takes his meat seriously. This man can tell you anything – and I do mean anything – you ever wanted to know about the how and why of cooking meat on a grill or smoker.

We had picked up a whole brisket, or as Meathead would call it, a whole “packer,” in early March for our house-cured corned beef. The whole brisket was rather large, so I simply took a portion of the flat end for corned beef and froze the rest of the brisket. When we pulled it out to prepare it for Texas-style brisket, I had two parts of the brisket: the flat and the point. The point has a thick layer of fat on top and a thick layer of fat that runs between the flat and the point. The flat cut makes uniform slices, like sliced corned beef, and is perfect for sandwiches or to create that fancy fan on a plate. The flat is also leaner, which can lead to dryer meat if overcooked. The point, on the other hand, has a layer of fat on top and running through it, allowing it to be a little more user-friendly as it stays moist. Since we had both cuts, we did the flat in the smoker and placed the point into the crockpot. It is hard to say which one I preferred more.

5-6 lb. beef brisket trimmed, leaving approximately 1/4-inch fat cap
2 1/2-3 tsp. kosher salt (used as overnight primer)
1/2 Meathead Goldwyn’s Big Bad Beef Rub (recipe to follow)
Apple juice or cider for spritzing/moping
Barbecue sauce of your choice or Texas Mop Sauce (recipe below)

Special Equipment:
Smoker or smoker box for grill (following the wood chips smoking directions for your equipment)
2-3+ cups of wood chips, depending on your smoker (we prefer a mixture of hickory and apple)
Meat thermometer
Heavy-duty aluminum foil
A comfortable outdoor chair and a 6-pack of cold beer (optional, but suggested)

For Texas Mop Sauce:
Makes about 5 cups
Prep time: 30 minutes
1 tbs. smoked paprika
2 tsp. fresh cracked black pepper
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin powder
1 tbs. of butter (Irish butter is best because of it’s high fat content)
1 medium onion finely chopped
2 heaping tsp. minced garlic
1/2 green bell pepper, roughly chopped
1/2 yellow bell pepper, roughly chopped
1 cup lager beer
1/4 cup
ketchup (obsessed with Aldi’s organic ketchup!)
1/4 cup organic apple cider vinegar (or at least ACV with the mother, it really makes a difference in flavor)
3 tbs.
Worcestershire sauce
3 tbs.
steak sauce
2 tbs.
brown sugar
2 tsp. of
hot sauce
2 cups beef stock or a beef/chicken combo

Whisk paprika, black pepper, chili powder, and cumin in a small bowl. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat and add chopped onion and cook until translucent, stirring frequently. Add the garlic, bell pepper, and the spice mix. Stir and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in ketchup, Worcestershire, and steak sauce. Stir until combined and thick. Add apple cider vinegar and lager, mix well. Mix in brown sugar, hot sauce, and stock and stir well to combine. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer and let cook, stirring occasionally, for at least 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Set aside until needed. Can be made two days in advance and kept refrigerated until needed.

This is a dual-purpose mop: you use half to mop the meat when cooking and use the remainder to splash on the meat when you serve it, Texas style.

For Big Bad Beef Rub (BBBR):
Courtesy of Meathead at AmazingRibs.com
Makes about half a cup
Prep time: about 10 minutes
3 tbs. coarsely ground black pepper
1 tbs. granulated white sugar (I use Aldi’s organic cane sugar)
1 tbs. onion powder
2 tsp. mustard powder
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. chili or Ancho powder (I prefer Ancho for a deeper smoky flavor)
1 tsp. chipotle or cayenne powder (I use chipotle for the deeper, earthy flavor)

Place the trimmed brisket on a rimmed sheet pan and sprinkle kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon per pound, liberally over meat and gently massage in. Wrap pan tightly and refrigerate overnight or up to 24 hours (I prefer the latter). Remove brisket from refrigerator and spritz with water to moisten surface of the meat, then generously apply the BBBR to the brisket. This is predominately to help create a “bark” on the brisket. (Bark is the succulent crust you get on the exterior of a well-smoked piece of meat. It is chewy and flavor-packed, infused with the spices in the rub, the smoke from the wood, and the amount of fat and evaporation of liquid. It’s what most barbecue aficionados dream about.) Chill the meat for about 30 minutes or up to two hours in the refrigerator.

Meanwhile, get your smoker/grill ready for the day’s venture.

Using a smoker or a grill, you want to set your temperature at 225 degrees Fahrenheit. Follow the instructions for your smoker, electric or propane, as far as wood chip usage and water ratio, if any. For a standard four-burner grill, turn on two burners on one side of the grill, leaving the other side off to create indirect heat. Place a wood chip box with about 1/2 a cup of chosen wood chips near the heat source, enough to cause the wood to heat to smoke point. When grill is maintaining 225 degrees and your chips have begun to smoke, place the brisket, fat side up, in the cooler side of the grill and insert a digital thermometer set to 150 degrees. Place an aluminum pan, filled half way with water, next to the brisket to maintain moister. Crack a cold beverage of choice and grab a seat.

To create a nice level of smokiness in the brisket, I like to monitor the grill pretty closely for the first two hours. When you see the grill stop smoking, add more wood chips, usually about every 30 minutes or so. After about 3 to 4 hours, you will flip the brisket and cook until the internal temperature reaches 150 degrees. When the meat reaches 150 degrees, remove from the grill and wrap tightly in a double layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil, pressing as much air out as possible, while keeping the meat thermometer in the brisket. Place it back on the grill and continue to cook until the temperature reaches 200 degrees. Cooking time depends on the size of your brisket – anywhere from 3-6 hours.

Once the meat has reached the desired temperature, you can “hold” it for several hours, until you are ready to eat. Take a plastic cooler and line the bottom with a towel and place foil wrapped brisket in towel (keep the thermometer in the meat) and close the lid and let rest for up to 3 hours. If the foil is leaking, you can place the meat in a pan inside the cooler. Ideally, if you can wait until the meat drops to 140 degrees, barbecue champions say that it is the perfect temperature.

Now, if you are like us, and really appreciate the crusty bark on a brisket, right before you slice the meat, you can throw it back on the grill, fat side up, and give the top a light brush with the mop and let the sauce crystallize a bit, making sure not to burn the exterior of the brisket.

When ready to slice, place fat side up an a cutting board and trim about 1 inch from the thick end and about 2 inches from the tip of the thin end. Both tend to get overcooked and dry because they are thin and lean. You can chop those pieces up and cover them in the mop sauce, or use them as tasty scraps for the pups. Then find the fat layer between the point and flat and slide your blade between the two muscles, separating them. Trim off all the excess fat. Cut meat across the grain of both pieces.

This will leave you with lean cuts and fattier cuts. Most guests will choose the leaner slices, but some of us prefer the flavor-filled slices with some fat still on there. Place your Texas Mop Sauce out on the table. Serve the sliced brisket on a sandwich bun or serve on a plate with a piece of white bread (that’s how they roll in Oakland). Now grab another cold one and sit down and enjoy the smoky delicious fruit of your labor.

Crock Pot Texas Style Brisket
Serves 6

Do not have the time or inclination for the whole rigmarole of smoking brisket all day? Fear not! We have a quick and easy crock-pot version that will please the crowds too. You will not get the firm “slices” of brisket you get when you smoke the meat slowly, but the flavor is incredible and the recipe is easy!

3-4 lb. beef brisket
1 large onion, cut in half and sliced
1 1/2 cups of your favorite barbecue sauce
1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke flavoring (optional)

For brisket rub:
6 tbs. smoked paprika
4 tbs. ground black pepper
4 tbs. kosher salt
2 tbs. dark brown sugar
2 tbs. Ancho chili powder (regular chili powder can be substituted)
2 tbs. ground cumin
2 tsp. ground chipotle pepper

In a bowl, mix all ingredients for rub until well combined. Place the brisket in a rimmed baking sheet, pat dry, and trim fat layer, leaving about 1/4 inch of fat on top of brisket. Sprinkle generously with the brisket rub until there is a coating, but not too thick. Flip and repeat rub on the other side. Place tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Remove brisket from refrigerator and set on counter for 30 minutes while you slice the onion. Place onion in the bottom of the crock-pot, dispersing evenly. Remove brisket from the plastic wrap and place, fat side up, on top of the onions. Pour 1 cup of barbecue sauce over the top of the brisket. Turn crock-pot to low and slow cook for 8-10 hours, or until the brisket is easily pierced with a fork and meat is tender. When the brisket is done, transfer it to a rimmed cutting board and lightly cover with foil. In the crock-pot, shred the onions into the sauce and add the rest of the barbecue sauce. Turn the crock to high and mix the sauce and shredded onions. After the brisket has rested for at least 10 minutes, shred or slice across the grain and serve with the barbecue sauce from the crock-pot.

Serve brisket with buns or bread. Baked beans, coleslaw, and potato salad are great accompaniments to this dish, as is the 24-hour salad (recipe follows).

Super Fast Super Slaw
Serves approximately 10

Now for something fabulously simple! For those regular readers of ours, you have heard me tell of our marketing friend in McCormick’s. Well, they have procured a few new companies and are expanding their line from just spices into a wide variety of items. One of the lines is called Produce Partners. It is a line of mixes that you simply add to a vegetable, like their Super Slaw mix. This makes whipping together coleslaw for a barbecue quick, simple – and it still tastes homemade.

1 cup mayonnaise (Hellmann’s/Best are preferred)
1 package Produce Partners Super Slaw Mix
2 tbs. sugar (I omit the sugar in this recipe)
2 tbs. vinegar (I use apple cider vinegar with the mother in it, as I prefer the taste/zip)
9 cups shredded cabbage/coleslaw mix

In a large bowl, mix mayonnaise, sugar (if using), and vinegar, whisk well. Stir in cabbage and mix until cabbage is coated. Wrap tightly and refrigerate for at least an hour. Mix well before service and add fresh cracked pepper to taste.

The longer this sits, the better it tastes, so it is great to make the night before.

We hope you enjoy these recipes and you get to share some great food and lots of laughter with your family and friends. We will catch you next month with recipes that embrace the beauty of summer in the heartland of America!

Bring Your Appetite!

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Angela and Carolyn Linton-Canfield

After 18 years working in the food and beverage industries of Chicago and San Francisco, Angela and Carolyn started a private chef and catering company, Life’s a Feast, in the tri-state area. They embrace their passion of cooking, entertaining, and creating one-of-a-kind experiences for their clients.
Carolyn and Angela now share their passion with viewers on their cable show Life’s a Feast, available on Mediacom and their YouTube channel, Life’s a Feast LLC.
Both share their expertise on food and wine on our website, their website, as well as their Facebook page.
Recipes and photos are the copyrighted and intellectual property of Life’s a Feast, LLC.

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