Sunday, September 1

Slow-Roast Brisket Over Almond Wood (part 1)

I am making barbeque for friends on this Labor Day weekend.  I've been wanting to try slow-roasted BBQ over wood fire for some time and was encouraged by Janet and John's success a couple of weeks ago with a pork shoulder. So here I go - and because there is plenty of waiting-around-time, I can blog.
On Saturday, I bought a six pound brisket and gave it a rub following Steve Raichlen's recipe and method and set it to cure overnight. (Sorry I didn't think about blogging this until it was too late to get the rubbed-brisket photo. It was big and reddish in a two-gallon ziplock bag.)  
It has been hot, hot, hot here this last week and just because the calendar says it's September doesn't make this day any different from late August. My plan was to get the grill going early Sunday and beat the heat. Late Saturday, I assembled the materials and tools in the BBQ zone. Then I went inside to fiddle with sides and kitchen chores and assemble more tools.
On B-Day Sunday, I was up at 6:30 and got the fire going in our kettle grill.  I used charcoal briquettes as a base (ala Steve Raichlen) and mixed in leftover almond wood that John prepped. In no time, I had a good bed of charcoal and wood embers! It smelled a divine, sweet almond flavor that I don't remember from Janet & John's fire. I hope this goes well with the slightly sweet rub on the beef and the tangy sauce we'll use at table. But when I put the lid on to measure the temperature, it was way over the top. I let it burn down a little and regretted using so many briquettes. It was taking forever and my cool morning advantage was "going up in smoke". Then I realized the other way to control heat  is to remove some of it.
I pulled about half the briquettes out to the staging fire spot in the wheelbarrow. After checking the temp again, I was ready to put the meat on the grill. Here is the setup at about 8:00am with the brisket in the kettle. Finally!
The surplus hot charcoal became the base for the next batch of fire. It's there under the clay flower pot in the photo at left. 
Now it's a matter of keeping an eye on the temperature and adding heat as necessary to maintain about 225°.  Following Janet's example, I have a thermometer in the vent on the kettle lid. Steve Raichlen says you need to supplement the fire about every hour.  My first addition was at 40 minutes in and that was a little too hot for a while. I'm hoping for the best but lower temp for longer time is the path to brisket-success. Also, I am a little concerned because this brisket seems thin to me and I suspect it will get done faster than is desirable.
I'm going to post this and go add some fire to the kettle.

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