Backyard Barbacoa Tacos (on the grill)

These backyard barbacoa tacos made on the grill are a big hit any day of the week (not just Taco Tuesday)!

Do you love tacos? Do you consider yourself a grillmaster (or aspire to)? Then this Backyard Barbacoa Tacos recipe is a must try! Using your braising skills on the grill, you’ll look like an expert and wow your friends over on your next taco night (which should be every night, am I right?)!

WHAT IS BARBACOA?

Barbacoa is a form of cooking meat that has its origins in the Caribbean, but the style we are most familiar with is the one from Mexico, which originates with meats steam cooked underground. Some recipes call for beef from the head of the cow (such as beef cheeks), others call for goat meat (aka- cabrito). Since this backyard barbacoa tacos recipe comes from a gringo and his grill, I’ll be using a chuck roast because this cut of meat is much easier to find in the US.

A PLETHORA OF INGREDIENTS

Adobo and beef together. The barbacoa tacos begin!
Adobo and beef together. The barbacoa tacos begin!

While I tend to post recipes that involve less than 10 ingredients, this one is worth the exception and you’ll taste why. For starters, I dice onion, jalapeño, and mince garlic then sauté in a cast iron skillet on the grill (you can also do this in a frying pan on your stove). Once those are done, I put them in a blender with apple cider vinegar, lime juice, chicken broth, cumin, oregano, black pepper, salt, and cloves. Blend until smooth, which shouldn’t take long since we are using a lot of liquid. This mix you just made is called an adobo, which is a special marinade that consists of peppers, vinegar, and spices.

NOTE: if you’re keeping track at home, that’s 11 ingredients so far.

…AND THEN THERE’S THE MEAT

Now that the above ingredients have formed your adobo, it’s time to take your chuck roast and cut it into sections. We are using a 3 lbs. cut of chuck roast for this recipe, so you’ll either want to cut it into six or eight pieces. I like to put a simple rub of salt and pepper on these pieces to add additional flavor to the meat.

Sear the chunks of chuck roast in a large cast iron skillet (preferably the one you already used to saute the onions, garlic, and jalapeno.
Sear the chunks of chuck roast in a large cast iron skillet (preferably the one you already used to saute the onions, garlic, and jalapeno.

Once you have divided the roast into chunks, place them in a heated cast iron skillet and sear each side for a minute or two. If you have seen other recipes on my website regarding steaks such as tri-tip or New York Strip, you’ll know how much I value the reverse sear. It does feel a little weird to sear first and then slow cook after, but with this recipe it is worth the exception. Make sure all pieces are browned on each side.

Now that the searing of the chunks of chuck roast has been done, place them in a foil pan. I recommend using an 8×8 pan or something a little bigger, depending on how big of a cut of chuck roast you have. Pour the adobo in the pan. I like to add a couple of bay leaves for flavor.

SMOKE AND BRAISE ON THE GRILL

With the meat and the adobo together in the foil pan, place on the grill at 275 degrees over indirect heat. I used my ceramic grill which came with deflector plates to put over the lit coals to create this indirect heat. I put a couple of chunks of hickory wood in there with the coals for some extra smokey flavored goodness. Cook like this for four to five hours or until the meat is shreddable with a fork. The wait for these backyard barbacoa tacos will be well worth it!

At least 200 degrees is a good temp for shredding beef.
The barbacoa reached 200 degrees after almost five hours on the grill. Reaching an internal temp of at least 200 degrees is good for shredding beef. Using my Thermapen Mk4 by Thermoworks.

Since every animal lives a different life and some cows use their muscles more than others, each cut of beef may cook differently. If the meat is still not shreddable after four to five hours, then cover the top of the pan with aluminum foil to help expedite the process.

It’s also worth noting that you may want to flip the chunks of beef over during the cook so the chunks of beef are easier to shred since they have been braising in the adobo.

SHRED IT UP!

barbacoa shredded and ready to eat.
Make sure to let the beef you just shredded sit in the adobo for a little while before serving. That way, the juices soak up into that barbacoa.

Once the beef has been removed from the grill and sat out for a moment, start shredding the chunks of beef. I used a couple of forks, but you can shred with your hands (wearing some insulated gloves) or even a hand mixer if you wish (but that can get messy, so beware). Let the shredded beef sit in that juicy goodness of the adobo for a little while before serving.

Speaking of serving, I recommend offering up this backyard barbacoa on some warm corn tortillas and topped with diced onion, cilantro, and some green tomatillo salsa. Even give a freshly cut lime a gentle squeeze over the top and you’ve got yourself some amazing backyard barbacoa tacos you cooked up on the grill!

barbacoa yes!
Warm up them corn tortillas before you paint a masterpiece with your backyard barbacoa (and toppings).

THE RECIPE!

Backyard Barbacoa Tacos

Backyard Barbacoa Tacos

Tired of having ground beef tacos? This barbacoa recipe will transform your taco night from average to extraordinary! And it can all be made on your grill (or oven/stove if you prefer).

Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 5 hours
Total Time 5 hours 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 chuck roast (3lbs.)
  • 1 jalapeno, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 C apple cider vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp lime juice
  • 3/4 C chicken broth
  • 3 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • FOR TACOS:
  • 25-30 corn tortillas, warmed
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 Tbsp cilantro, diced
  • 1 jar green tomatillo salsa

Instructions

  1. Saute onion, jalapeno, and garlic in cast iron skillet. Set aside.
  2. Create adobo (marinade) by combining apple cider vinegar, lime juice, chicken broth, cumin, oregano, black pepper, salt, and cloves in a blender. Add sauteed onion, jalapeno, and garlic. Blend until smooth.
  3. Divide chuck roast into 6-8 pieces, season, and sear pieces in cast iron skillet for 1-2 minutes on each side
  4. Place meat in 8x8 foil pan and pour adobo in. Add bay leaves. Place on grill at 275 degrees over indirect heat for 4-5 hours, turn chunks of beef halfway through the cook. Done when beef at or above 200 degrees internal temp or when beef can be shredded with a fork.
  5. Shred beef and let rest in adobo before serving. Serve on corn tortillas warmed on a skillet, top with diced onion, cilantro, and green tomatilla salsa.

Notes

  1. Chuck roast was used for this recipe. To go more authentic, substitute beef cheek.
  2. To make more spicy, either add more jalapeno or substitute serrano pepper.

Nutrition Information:

Serving Size:

2 street tacos

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 251 Total Fat: 12g Saturated Fat: 5.9g Trans Fat: 0.5g Cholesterol: 76mg Sodium: 282mg Carbohydrates: 15g Fiber: 2.3g Sugar: 2g Protein: 22g

Smoked BBQ Brisket

Up close and personal with a slice of some smoked BBQ brisket.

Ah, brisket. The cut of beef I was so intimidated by when I first started BBQing. Gotta admit, I was working the smoker weekly when I started and it took me months to work up the courage to attempt it. After an experienced friend of mine smoked BBQ brisket with me for the first time, it didn’t seem so scary after all. If you are planning your first attempt at this beast of a cut, you’ve come to the right place. If you’ve smoked your share and are researching different methods, I applaud you for staying sharp in the craft.

I’ve cooked many of these smoked BBQ briskets over the last four years and done a variety of methods. I love brisket and it may be my favorite cut of beef to do on the smoker. The process will involve some work, patience, and attention to detail. But don’t be intimidated. It’s fun!

THE SUPER-CONDENSED VERSION

I’m about to dive into the specifics of each step of the brisket cooking process, but if you want to simply read the summary now and skip down to the recipe at the bottom, well you’re in luck because here it is!

I trim off the silver skin on the non fat side, trim some of the fat off of the skinny sides, especially where the point and flat overlap. I trim down to about a 1/2 inch on the fat side, which is a little more left on than others but I Smoke it fat side down because on the grills I use the indirect heat source comes from the bottom. That fat layer on the bottom helps protect the meat from burning. It’s like the fat is sacrificing itself for the meat. I rub with a S&P based rub, something simple for beef. I don’t go too generous, but cover it enough. I spritz a few times during the cook with Dr Pepper, which I think helps with the color more than the flavor. I measure temps where the point and flat overlap, pulling off when it hits 195-199F. I let it rest for 90 minutes to 2 hours before slicing. (NOTE: don’t forget you can make brisket burnt ends too!) If you want to read the breakdown, keep going!

TRIMMING THE BRISKET

Brisket diagram courtesy of eggheadforum.com

I have another blog post in which I review this in more detail and you are free to go check it out. For the sake of keeping this post from being a novel, I’ll go over the important points for you to know.

You trim a brisket for multiple reasons: to enhance the smoke penetrating the meat, creating some tasty bark, and removing some thick portions of fat that don’t render. There is one side of the brisket that has a bunch of fat on it, this is called the fat cap. The other side will have some light sections of fat on it, but likely a bunch of silver skin.

If cooking the brisket fat side down (recommended if your indirect heat source comes from the bottom: pellet grills, ceramic grills, drum smokers), then I recommend trimming down to about a 1/4 to 1/2 inch. I’ve burned the bottom of many a brisket going fat side up because the indirect heat source came from underneath. The heat cooks hotter when its closer to the source. Having the fat on the bottom will act as a protective layer to keep the meat from possibly getting a thin, burnt layer.

If going fat side up, I recommend trimming down to 1/4 inch. The hard fats don’t render, but can add a little flavor to your slices.

Brisket all trimmed up (this view is fat side down).

Here are some bullet points to that I elaborate on in my brisket trimming post:

  • plan about 20-30 minutes for trimming
  • a boning knife is preferred for the trimming due to the skinny point and curve
  • trim fat side down 1/4 inch for cooking fat side up, 1/4 to 1/2 for fat side down
  • trim off the light fat and silver skin on other side of brisket. Silver skin will make for a tougher chew and keep smoke from penetrating meat as well.
  • don’t cut into the fat that separates the point and the flat
  • cut off any little flaps of meat on the brisket. These portions will burn to a crisp due to smoking for many hours
  • best to trim brisket straight out of the fridge. Fat will be harder thus easier to trim

RUB AND REST

Now that the trimming is out of the way, we can get to the applying the seasonings, or the rub as us BBQers call it. If using a bottle of rub, it is recommended to go with one that is more savory as compared to the sweet rubs which are great for pork. As for me, I like to go simple with brisket: 2 Tbsp kosher salt, 2 Tbsp ground pepper, and 1 Tbsp garlic powder.

While you may go generous on the rub when doing another meat such as pork shoulder, I like to go modest to medium on brisket to let the natural meat flavor stand out. Make sure to apply rub on all sides of the brisket, even the narrow thin ones. The crust will have good flavor and compliment the real star of the show, the beef.

Brisket trimmed, rubbed, and awaiting the smoke treatment.

You can let the beef sit at room temperature for a little while without the risk of contamination (unlike poultry and pork), so feel free to let the meat sit for about 20-30 minutes to let the rub soak in a little before hitting the grill. NOTE: before applying rub and letting meat rest would be a good time to get grill/smoker going.

TIME FOR THE LONG SMOKE SESSION

Get your heat source for your grill/smoker up to 250F using indirect heat. As far as smoking wood goes, I have a few that I like, such as hickory, pecan, and oak. To stick with traditional Texas-style brisket, let’s go with oak (post oak to be more specific).

Place the brisket on the grill either fat side up or fat side down (I prefer fat side down due to the types of grills I own: ceramic, pellet, and drum smoker. I explained this earlier in the trimming section). I like to put a water pan in the main chamber to help keep the meat from drying out (then again, I do live in a dry, desert climate).

I do like to spritz with Dr Pepper two or three times during the cook. To help the Dr Pepper spray better, open the can hours before spritzing. This helps the soda to go flat and spray better. I love the color it helps impart and the subtle flavor it gives the bark.

THE EFFIN’ STALL

During the first few hours of the cook, the meat temps will climb quick. Even at the 250F smoking temp, I’ve had briskets go from 50F to 130F internal in three hours. You would think with that type of start that you’re on pace to finish in two more hours. But the brisket will eventually hit a point that it’s internal temperature will stop climbing and level out. This is called “the stall”.

The stall usually happens around 160F. To get a deeper dive in the science of it, the folks over at Amazing Ribs have a great article on it. To summarize, the meat starts sweating and the moisture evaporates and cools the meat. With that said, this is about the time I stop spritzing. The internal meat temp will stay leveled out in this zone for hours.

The smoked BBQ brisket getting wrapped in pink butcher paper to help accelerate the cooking process.

There is a common method to push through this and it’s known as the “Texas crutch”. The Texas crutch is when you wrap the meat in either foil or pink butcher paper to accelerate the temperature the meat is cooking at and giving it no choice but to cook faster.

If going with this method, I prefer the pink (or peach) butcher paper as it allows air flow to go through while still retaining heat. Foil traps the heat and creates moisture inside the cocoon you’ve created and can cause the outside of the meat (aka-the bark) to get soggy and feel like roast beef. If you do go the foil route, I recommend unwrapping during the last hour or so of the cook to help the bark develop.

WHEN IS THE SMOKED BBQ BRISKET DONE?

Smoked BBQ brisket resting and begging to be sliced.

There’s some debate on how to tell when the brisket is done. Some go by time, others by temp, and those who prefer by feel. I don’t like going by time because every cut of brisket is different and cooks different. I recommend temp because it is easier to monitor throughout the process.

On a whole (or packer) brisket, make sure to put the meat probe in the section where the point and the flap overlap. Go halfway in. When the temps reach between 197-201F, pull off the grill and let the smoked BBQ brisket rest. At first, the temp will rise a few degrees while resting but then start to cool off. Let rest about 90 minutes to two hours before slicing. Speaking of…

SLICING IT UP

The flat portion of the smoked BBQ brisket sliced and ready to devour!

Whole briskets have two different sections of meat and the grains go different ways. I like to slice down the middle to separate where the point and the flat are, against the grain. Slicing against the grain makes for a more tender bite. Find the directions the grains go and slice the opposite way for the best meat experience.

Some say a good measure of a great brisket is the smoke ring and the color of the bark. While these features are aesthetically pleasing and quite photogenic, they don’t necessarily mean the brisket automatically tastes good. I’ve overcooked briskets that passed the eye test more than once. Also, I’ve had briskets with very little smoke ring and not as dark of bark but still tasted pretty good. Bottom line is, go off of flavor. If it tastes good to you, then you did it right!

As a reminder, you can use the point portion of the brisket to cube up and turn into mouthwatering burnt ends! Enjoy!

THE RECIPE

Smoked BBQ Brisket

Smoked BBQ Brisket

Brisket is the king of all barbecued meats. It can be intimidating to cook due to the time and cost, but this recipe will guide you and make you look like a natural to your friends and family!

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 12 hours
Additional Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 14 hours

Ingredients

  • 1 whole (or packer) brisket (11-14 lbs.)
  • 2 Tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 Tablespoons ground black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic powder
  • 3 oz. Dr Pepper (for spritzing)

Instructions

  1. Preheat grill/smoker to 250F using indirect heat and oak wood
  2. Remove brisket from packaging. Trim fat side of brisket down to 1/4 inch (boning knife preferred). Flip brisket over and trim off silver skin. Also trim off any random flaps of meat as they will burn during cooking.
  3. Mix kosher salt, pepper, and garlic powder together and apply on brisket. Apply more on the exposed meat and less on the fat.
  4. Place brisket on grill fat side down. Spritz with Dr Pepper a few times during cook. Wrap in pink butcher paper when meat reaches internal temp in the 160s to accelerate cooking process. Let cook for 12 hours or until internal meat temps reach between 197-201F.
  5. Remove brisket from grill, unwrap and let rest for 90 minutes before slicing. When slicing, pencil thin is the ideal width.

Notes

  1. It's best to trim the brisket straight out of the refrigerator while it's cold due to the fat being more solid and easier to cut off.
  2. After seasoning brisket, one option is to let the brisket rest for about 30 minutes before putting on grill. Some do this to let the meat sweat a little and let the seasonings blend in.
  3. If you don't have oak wood, other woods such as hickory or mesquite will work too (I like pecan with beef, as well)
  4. Measure internal meat temps by placing digital thermometer into the spot where the point and flap overlap. Push thermometer halfway in.
  5. If cutting sugar from your diet, spritz with beef stock or beef broth instead of Dr Pepper

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

20

Serving Size:

4 oz

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 330 Total Fat: 21g Saturated Fat: 8g Trans Fat: 0g Cholesterol: 120mg Sodium: 120mg Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 0g Sugar: 0g Protein: 32g

Monster-sized Ribeye Steak

There's 47 ounces of meat heaven!
There’s 47 ounces of meat heaven!

Ever since I started my website and social media accounts, I occasionally see people with these huge, bone-in ribeye steaks and it has made me very, very jealous. I have had a difficult time finding these types of steaks around me, but then Costco had blessed my local store with these giant meat lollipops and I had to partake.

While I wasn’t exactly looking to buy meat on this particular Costco trip, there was a 47 ounce USDA Prime ribeye just calling my name…and I listened.

How do you turn away from something like this?
How do you turn away from something like this?

There is debate on whether or not you would consider this a tomahawk steak, because some purists believe the bone needs to extend at least six to eight inches out from the meat. This particular one was 4.5″, but I’ll consider it a tomahawk anyway.

As stated above, this ribeye was 47 ounces! And was just over 2 inches thick. I even had my buddy, Lego Batman, come to help show size of scale.

Lego Batman is about 1 3/4" tall. The thickness of the steak rises above the Dark Knight!
Lego Batman is about 1 3/4″ tall. The thickness of the steak rises above the Dark Knight!

Since this is a premium cut of beef and I spent a good amount of money on it, I wanted to make sure I didn’t screw this up. Here’s what I did:


 

REVERSE SEARED RIBEYE STEAK

Ingredients

  • 1 monster-sized ribeye steak
  • rub

Smoker

  • Pecan wood
  • 250F for the low and slow
  • 550F+ for the sear

Directions

  1. Rinse beef, pat dry
  2. Apply rub on all sides, let rest for 15-20 minutes
  3. Get smoker up to 250F, put wood of choice in
  4. Place steak on grill surface (can be done prior to reaching 250F temp)
  5. Smoke until internal meat temp reaches 125F, remove from grill surface
  6. Place meat on hot, searing surface, preferably a cast iron skillet
  7. Sear steak for 1-2 minutes on each side, until internal meat temp reaches 130-135F
  8. Rest for 10-15 minutes
  9. Slice and enjoy!

 

As I take the meat out of the package, I give it a quick rinse and pat it dry with a paper towel. I do this because the meat sits suffocating in plastic wrap and want to make sure it’s somewhat of a fresh surface.  Once patted dry, I apply rub. For those of you that follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that lately I’ve been favoring a blend of two different types of rub: Grunt Rub (garlic rub) from Code 3 Spices and What’s Your Beef? rub from Loot n’ Booty. I like to let the meat rest for about 15 to 20 minutes before putting on the smoker because I like how the meat sweats and the rub starts to soak into the meat.

This massive meat lollipop rubbed and ready for the low and slow.
This massive meat lollipop rubbed and ready for the low and slow.

After I have my smoker started and wood chunks put in, I will put the meat in even when it is not at the desired temp of 250F because it’s just more time for it to get smoke flavor in.  I give the meat a quarter turn every 20 minutes or so and then flip it over and do the same. This particular steak, with it being so thick, took an hour and a half to smoke and get to the desired internal temp of 125F.

Soaking up that subtle pecan wood smoke.
Soaking up that subtle pecan wood smoke.

I had all intentions of placing the steak in the cast-iron skillet on my Kamado Joe for searing, but time was running out and people were getting hungry, so I fired up my stove and put the cast-iron skillet on high heat and seared it there.  In the skillet, I put 1/4 C of butter and some rub and let it melt before searing on both sides of the steak.

While searing, the steak will develop that delicious brown crust on the outside. Don’t be afraid to try to sear the sides of the steak as well.

Searing in the cast iron.
Searing in the cast iron.

Once you reach your desired internal temp (I go 130-135 for medium rare), put the steak on a cutting board and let rest for about 10 to 15 minutes before slicing. I love to let it rest afterwards so that way the meat relaxes and the juices start to build up. You’ll notice this as you start to slice.

The finished product has rested and is ready to be sliced!
The finished product has rested and is ready to be sliced!

This was a big hit with my family and guests (yep, it fed all of us)! My only regret is I started late and it finished while dark outside, so natural lighting for my pictures wasn’t there. Guess I’ll have to do this again!

 

Garlic Gouda Bacon Burgers

The Gouda garlic bacon burger.
The Gouda garlic bacon burger.

Sometimes inspiration comes from desperation. I was browsing Instagram the other day and came across a post from Susie Bulloch (@heygrillhey) in which she was making garlic butter burgers (recipe on her website). I wanted them. Badly. I had the hamburger meat, so I was halfway there. However, I was stuck at home and we were out of garlic butter at my house. When in a pinch, the chef-minded folks would whip up some minced garlic with butter and make their own, but that bright idea didn’t cross my mind until I started typing this just now I decided to go a different route. We had some leftover Gouda in the fridge from when my family and I got creative on National Grilled Cheese Day. Speaking of which, who makes up all of these “National (fill-in-the-blank) Day” events? And why do I only hear about them the day of? Anyway, we also had bacon in the fridge (obviously) and garlic, so I thought I’d try something different and mix all of these ingredients together in a burger…and then smoke it! Not only had I never tried this food concoction before, but I had yet to smoke burgers. YOLO, I guess.

Ingredients: 

1 lb. ground beef 80/20

2 oz. smoked Gouda, sliced into tiny squares

1 clove garlic, minced

1 strip bacon, uncooked and chopped into tiny squares

1 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce

Montreal Steak seasoning to taste

Wood: cherry

Smoke Temperature: 250°F

Time: 75-90 minutes

Finish Temp.: 145°F or whichever level of doneness you prefer

Rest: 5-10 minutes

I like to buy the 80/20 ground beef because it has more of the fatty goodness and more fat equals more natural flavor. It’s also cheaper than the other ground beefs with less fat. With that said, use whichever beef you like.

First, I take the beef and put it on a cutting board. I’ve also mixed ingredients with hamburger meat in a mixing bowl, which might have been better to trap all of the ingredients.

Second, I take all of the other ingredients, minus the seasoning, and mix them altogether.

Third, I separate into 1/4 lb. patties. You are at liberty to make these as big or small as you like. When forming the patties, I like to make sure some bacon pieces are on the surface so they get a little sizzle when I sear afterward. It also looks kinda cool.

Now that the patties have been formed, I sprinkle Montreal Steak seasoning on both sides. Once again, feel free to use whichever seasoning you wish.

The patties have been prepped and await their trip to the smoker.
The patties have been prepped and await their trip to the smoker.

Before mixing the ingredients, you may want to get your smoker going to reach the internal temperature of 250°F. That way, you don’t have to sit around and wait longer for your burgers to go in. I used cherry wood this time because I wanted that hint of smoky, fruity flavor in it. Once your smoker has reached the right temperature, put the burgers on. Now you will wait about 75 minutes, which is an hour and 15 minutes for those keeping track at home. I want my burgers to reach an internal temperature of around 130 degrees when I pull them off because I want to make sure that they don’t overcook past the level of doneness that I like my meat done. Some of the burgers needed a little longer, so that’s why I put between 75-90 minutes in the recipe.

Oh look, I even smoked some bacon-wrapped corn! (I'll get to that another time)
Oh look, I even smoked some bacon-wrapped corn! (I’ll get to that another time)

When I sear on that high heat, I try not to spend too much time on each side as to burn the meat on the outside. I do want some nice-looking grill marks, but I also want to make sure that it doesn’t get overcooked inside. That’s why I use a digital thermometer to keep track of the temp.

Once done, I let them rest a little before serving. I do this because I want juices to sweat out a little bit and make the burger that much juicier when they touch the taste buds.

Burgers resting at 145°F internal temp.
Burgers resting at 145°F internal temp.

If you want your burger even cheesier, go ahead and slice some gouda and put on top and let it melt a little. I definitely recommend doing this.

Fact: burgers with cheese inside them are better with more cheese on top of them.
Fact: burgers with cheese inside them are better with more cheese on top of them.

I had some family visiting from out of state when I made these and I gave them a burger for the road.  My sister-in-law (who was one of the visitors) texted me later that night and told me it was no fair she doesn’t live closer because this was the best burger she’s had! I love the compliments like that. Is this the best burger you’ll ever have? That’s for you to decide. I hope it is at least worth it to you to make more than once. Now stop reading this post and go make your own!

Tri-Tip

This is what tri-tips look like.

When I first started using a smoker way back in 2015, the first, second, and third thing I smoked was tri-tip. It is a favorite of mine to smoke because of the great flavor and the short amount of time it takes to reach the desired result of awesomeness. It is a great cut of meat that comes from the hind quarters of the cow in the bottom sirloin. Here’s the recipe I used:

Meat: tri-tip

Ingredients: olive oil, rub, brown sugar

Wood: apple, hickory

Smoke Temperature: 240°F/115.6°C

Time: 2 hours

Finish Temp.: 145°F/62.8°C

Rest: 20-30 minutes

When purchasing beef, you’ll want to look for some good marbling in the meat. Marbling is when you see small pockets of fat interwoven into the meat. I picked up a couple of tri-tips, one of which has some decent marbling in it.

Marbling in the tri-tip.
Marbling in the tri-tip.

Prepping the meat was simple. First off, I rubbed some olive oil on the meat. It creates a good base layer to add the rub. It helps the rub stick. For the rub, I used a mix of beef rub from The Slabs and some brown sugar. I have no exact measurements for these ingredients, I just eyeball it. That’s one of the beauties of learning to cook. You can learn from trial and error and while I haven’t shared them much, I’ve definitely made errors. It’s part of the process and we learn from it.

Brown sugar, beef rub, and olive oil were used to prep the tri-tips today.
Brown sugar, beef rub, and olive oil were used to prep the tri-tips today.

Going back to the meat, after I’ve rubbed it I let it sit out so it can both settle in and bring the meat closer to room temperature so it has a better transition when it hits the smoker. This is preferably done with beef. You definitely don’t want to do this with poultry for fear of salmonella.

Seasoned, rested, and ready for the smoker.
Seasoned, rested, and ready for the smoker.

As I prepped the smoker, I used a mix of hickory and cherry woods. Once the temperature was at 240°F the meat went in. Two hours later, we got the desired temp of 145°F, pulled it out, and let it rest.

This is what tri-tips look like.
This is what tri-tips look like.

I used my Thermopop from Thermoworks to get the right temperature quickly. It’s a great digital thermometer and I’ve been quite happy with it. Now that the meat is ready to eat, make sure you slice against the grain for an easier chew.

Even in bad lighting, that smoke ring is still a pretty sight.
Even in bad lighting, that smoke ring is still a pretty sight.

There you have it. Thanks for reading and feel free to comment!

 

Brisket!

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After months of being intimidated contemplating, I decided it was finally time to take on the brisket. I have built this up in my mind as the Mt. Everest of barbecue: the true test of preparation, patience, and execution. I decided I needed to do this with an expert, so I enlisted the help of my buddy Brandon. He has been the Jedi to my padawan, the Obi-Wan to my Luke, the Mr. Feeney to my Cory Mathews.

Meat: brisket (packer, aka-“full brisket”)

Ingredients: beef rub, spicy brown mustard

Wood: cherry

Smoke: 250°F/121°C

Finish Temperature: 195°F/90.6°C

With brisket, I’ve learned there’s two main types: flat and packer. The flat is the more lean part of the cut and consists of the flat muscle while the packer has both this and the point muscle, which comes attached to the flat and is surrounded by fat, which makes this part of the meat quite juicy and flavorful. For this smoke, we went with the packer cut.

Image courtesy of
Image courtesy of www.amazingribs.com

We let the brisket rest on the counter for a while so it wouldn’t be so cold when we put it on the smoker. That way, it takes a little less time to smoke and we let the rub settle in. Prior to that, we cut some fat from off of the top, cutting it down to 1/4 inch. Then we applied the spicy brown mustard on both sides, which adds some flavor and helps the rub stick. Once the mustard is on, the rub gets applied. Since beef is rather bland, we put on a generous amount of rub to flavor it. We let it sit like this for about an hour before putting it on the smoker.

Prepped and ready to smoke.
Prepped and ready to smoke.

We put it in the offset smoker on Friday evening at 250°F and left it untouched for six hours, occasionally putting in more coals and cherry wood. Since it was 1:00 a.m. and we aren’t in college anymore, we decided to pull the brisket out, double-wrap it in heavy duty foil, and then put it in the oven at 250° overnight while we got some much needed shut eye.

All in all, the meat was on for 15 hours before it reached the internal temp of 190°F and we left it wrapped on the counter to cook a little more. Then we unwrapped it and let it rest so the muscles can expand and let more juices in. The outside of the meat will look burnt, but that is supposed to happen. While I’m not a fan of eating anything burnt, an exception is made for brisket (and those burnt ends. Mmmm…)

Burnt on the outside, just right on the inside.
Burnt on the outside, just right on the inside.

When cutting the meat, make sure you cut against the grain. That way, it is more tender to the taste and easier to chew. Once this was done it was time to chow down! If you’re like me, you like to eat as you cut because you need to make sure it is as awesome as you hoped it would be for all of those hours of waiting…or because you want to hog the best pieces for yourself.

Truth be told: not all of this made it to my family.
Truth be told: not all of this made it to my family.

The brisket was fantastic! I’m so glad I tried it and had the help of a friend. I’m excited to do this on my own next time and tell you all about it.

Do you have any tips, ideas, or suggestions? Please leave a comment.