Owner Barry Sorkin gave us most of the recipe for his popular brisket but would only divulge four ingredients in the spice rub; we approximated the rest.
Makes nine half-pound servings.
1 whole “packer cut” brisket (averages 9 lbs)
4 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp kosher salt
2 tbsp black pepper
2 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp garlic powder
1. Trim the excess fat off the “cap” (the top side) of the brisket, leaving a half-inch of fat. Trim some of the excess on the side of the thicker end, between the top muscle (the “point”) and the bottom muscle (the “flat”), again leaving about a half-inch of fat.
2. Blend the spices and sugar together to make the rub, then heavily coat the meat with it, making sure to cover all the nooks and crannies. Let the rub penetrate the meat by letting it sit in the fridge, covered, overnight.
3. Remove brisket from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temp for about 15 minutes. Place it fat-side up in a 225-degree smoker or grill set up for indirect cooking. Smoke for an hour and a half per pound of meat, checking both the temperature of the grill and the meat often. When the brisket hits 185 degrees, remove it from the grill or smoker, wrap it in foil and place it in an empty cooler (first warm the cooler by pouring in hot water, then dumping it out) and shut the lid. This resting time is key for a bit of “carryover” cooking that translates to tenderness. Keep the thermometer in the brisket (punctured through the foil) to periodically check on it. Remove the brisket from the cooler when it reaches 195 degrees (after about one hour).
4. Slice the brisket across the grain, or chop if you prefer.
• “Packer cut” brisket is essential when smoking brisket low-and-slow, because it contains both the “flat” and the “point,” as well as an abundance of fat so the meat won’t dry out. Sorkin buys his meat from a wholesaler but also recommends Chicago Meat Market (3021 N Cicero Ave, 773-777-7116).
• When making low-and-slow barbecue, you’re aiming to keep the internal temperature of your smoker or grill at around 225 degrees. Place an oven thermometer close to the meat right on the grate. If it’s too hot, close the bottom vents a bit. If it’s too cool, open the bottom vents a bit more or add a few more hunks of charcoal. The top vent controls the smoke; keep it about halfway open so that the smoky air can circulate well and evenly permeate the meat.
• Cooking methods:
1. Wood-fired smoker The ideal method. Produces smoky, tender meat and can smoke at a fairly even temperature off the same fire for about seven hours.
2. Charcoal grill The cheapest method. Produces similar results to a smoker but requires the most attention.
3. Gas-fired grill The easiest method. True, you’re cooking with propane, but you can gain smoke flavor via a $10 smoker box (available at Home Depot, locations citywide) filled with wood chips.
4. Oven-finishing The time-saving method. After the brisket reaches 165–170 degrees (about four hours for nine pounds of meat) in the smoker or grill, wrap it tightly in heavy-duty aluminum foil and cook in a 250-degree oven until the brisket reaches an internal temperature of 195 degrees (about two to three hours). Remove from oven and let rest for about 20 minutes before slicing.
AT SMOQUE $7.45 per serving
AT HOME $3 per serving