When I first started competing in barbecue contests in the Northeast, there was one team that seemed to always end up at the top of the pack -- IQUE.
Some of the nicest folks that you'd ever meet, Andy Husbands and Chris Hart (the founding members of the team) had competing down to a science as evidenced by their hundreds of wins, the most prestigious of which was Grand Champion of the Jack Daniel's Invitational.
For the most part, the team has gone their separate ways, but not before sharing several of their competition secrets (and some truly kicked up recipes) in Wicked Good Barbecue (Fair Winds Press 2015) including this recipe for the team's 1st place brisket at the American Royal.
IQUE on Winning the Brisket Category at the American Royal World Series of Barbecue:
It’s a big production for a group of guys from New England to travel out to Kansas City for the biggest barbecue contest in the world, the American Royal. In 2007, our plan included one definite—we were going to cook burnt ends, the cornerstone of Kansas City barbecue, for the brisket category.
Like most things barbecue, burnt ends—the fatty scraps of a brisket—started out as a throw-away piece of meat. Barbecue restaurants used to give this cut away as bar snacks. Kansas City folks grew to realize it was the tastiest part of the entire brisket. Nowadays, restaurants in this city are often judged solely on the quality of their burnt ends. With 530 competitors from all over the United States in this event, we knew it was important to cook some rocking burnt ends.
When we’re cooking beef, we look for a different flavor profile than our barbecue pork recipes. This recipe shies away from sweet notes and leans more toward savory. We have created layers of flavor with multiple rubs, marinades, and injections that should yield something smoky, savory, spicy, peppery, and, above all, beefy. Yes, it’s time-consuming, but in order to beat out 530 teams, the brisket needed to be bold, over the top, with lots of wow factor.
Throughout the weekend, as awards were announced in the different categories—chicken, ribs, pork, sauce, sausage, and side dishes—we never heard our name called. By the time the brisket category came up, we were looking at our last chance. With every competitor crammed into the American Royal livestock arena, eagerly listening to the results, the announcers called the top twenty. We were all on the edge of our seats as teams ranked number twenty through number two were called—and no IQUE. We had either traveled all the way from Boston to be shut out, or we had just won one of the biggest awards in barbecue. The name of this recipe should tell you all you need to know.
This recipe is perfect for a party or large gathering—or, if you’re just in the mood to make it, it’s a great excuse to have a party. As soon as your neighbors get a whiff of the smoke, they’re sure to come around anyway.
AWARD WINNING SMOKED BBQ BEEF BRISKET RECIPE
1 whole, untrimmed beef brisket, 16 to 18 pounds (7.3 to 8.2 kg)
2 cups (475 ml) Beef Marinade Injection (recipe follows)
1⁄2 cup (120 ml) Worcestershire sauce
1 cup (100 g) Beef BBQ Dry Rub (recipe follows)
1⁄2 cup (50 g) Dalmatian Rub (recipe follows)
3⁄4 cup (175 ml) Beef BBQ Marinade, warmed (recipe follows)
1⁄2 cup (120 ml) IQUE BBQ Sauce (recipe follows)
Marinade injector, probe thermometer, heavy-duty aluminum foil, disposable
aluminum roasting pan, insulated cooler
Trim the brisket.
Inject the brisket evenly throughout the point and flat with Beef Marinade Injection.
Rub Worcestershire sauce all over the brisket. Generously rub top, bottom, and sides of brisket with Beef BBQ Dry Rub. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 to 8 hours.
Remove brisket from the plastic wrap and apply a second layer of Beef BBQ Dry Rub, then rub evenly with Dalmatian Rub. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Prepare smoker and bring temperature to 250°F (120°F). Beef can handle a more assertive smoke, and we recommend either hickory or pecan as the smoke wood.
Place the brisket on the smoker, fat-side up, and smoke for 6 hours.
Turn the brisket over. Apply a light dusting of Beef BBQ Dry Rub to the flat. Cook for 2 hours, or until meat’s internal temperature registers approximately 170°F (77°C).
Prepare for the wrapping step. Have handy a probe thermometer, three 18-inch (45-cm) pieces of heavy-duty foil, and warm Beef BBQ Marinade.
Remove brisket from smoker. Form a “boat” with two pieces of foil. Place the brisket fat-side down into the boat (f). Insert the probe thermometer into the thickest part of the flat, in the same direction as the brisket’s grain. Pour Beef BBQ Marinade over the brisket. Wrap the third piece of foil tightly around the brisket, removing as much air as possible.
Return brisket to the smoker and increase temperature inside the smoker to 275°F (140°C). Cook until the brisket’s internal temperature is 200°F (93°C). This should take approximately 2 hours more, for roughly 10 hours total cooking time. Another way to gauge whether the brisket is done is to check for fork tenderness. If a fork can slide into the meat with almost no resistance, it is ready.
Remove brisket from foil and pour accumulated juices into a cup or bowl. Place the brisket fat-side up on the foil. Allow the meat to release its steam by resting for roughly 10 minutes. (If you don’t do this, the brisket could overcook during its resting phase.) Pour the reserved
marinade over the brisket and wrap tightly in foil. Place the meat in an empty cooler (with no ice), and let it rest for 2 hours.
To serve: In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm IQUE BBQ Sauce. Remove the brisket from the foil, reserving the juices. Using a sharp knife, separate the point section from the flat. Slice the point into 3/4-inch (1.7-cm) cubes and place into a disposable aluminum pan. Toss with IQUE Sauce, cover with foil, and place back on the smoker for
Trim some of the excess fat off the back of the flat, leaving an even 1/4 inch (6 mm) of fat. Turn the brisket over and carve pencil-thin slices. Brush each slice with the reserved marinade and sprinkle with another dusting of Beef BBQ Dry Rub. Fan slices on a platter, sprinkle the burnt end cubes around the edges, and serve.
BEEF MARINADE INJECTION
1/2 cup Butcher BBQ Brisket Injection
2 cups cold water
2 cups low-sodium beef broth
2 beef bouillon cubes
2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
Mix Butcher BBQ Brisket Injection well with cold water.
Bring beef broth to a boil with beef bouillon cubes and Worcestershire sauce. Let cool.
BEEF BBQ DRY RUB
1/2 cup Kosher sat
1/2 cup paprika
1/4 cup chili powder
2 tbsp. cumin seeds, ground
2 tbsp. turbinado sugar
2 tbsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp. freshly ground white pepper
1 tbsp. garlic powder
1 tbsp. onion powder
1 tbsp. chipotle powder
1/2 tbsp. hickory powder, optional
In a small bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 month.
1 cup Kosher salt
1 cup coarsely ground black pepper
3 tbsp. garlic granules or garlic powder
1 tbsp. chipotle powder or cayenne pepper
Mix all ingredients in a bowl and store in an air-tight container for up to 2 months.
BEEF BBQ MARINADE
12 ounces American lager
1 cup low-sodium beef broth
1 head roasted garlic, cloves removed and processed into a paste
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup yellow mustard
1/4 cup Beef BBQ dry rub
2 tbsp. crushed red pepper flakes
Place all ingredients in a mason jar or other airtight container. COver and shake vigorously. Refrigerate for up to 1 week.
IQUE BBQ SAUCE
4 cups packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp. dried thyme
1 tbsp. ground mustard
1 tbsp. garlic powder
1 tbsp. ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp. Szechuan peppercorns (or mixed peppercorns), freshly ground
1 1/2 tsp. long peppercorns (or mixed peppercorns), freshly ground
1 1/2 tsp. chipotle powder or cayenne pepper
1 tbsp. tomato powder, optional
1/2 tbsp. hickory powder, optional
4 cups ketchup
1/2 cup light corn syrup
2 tbsp. IQUE dry rub
In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, make the gastrique by bringing the brown sugar, cider vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce to a gentle boil.
Remove from heat and add the thyme, mustard, garlic powder, cumin, ground Szechuan peppercorns, ground long peppercorns, chipotle powder, and tomato powder and hickory powder, if using. Let sit for 15 minutes.
Stir in ketchup and corn syrup, return to stove, and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and add IQUE Dry Rub. Let cool in refrigerator, preferably in squeeze bottles, for up to 1 month.
Recipe courtesy of Wicked Good Barbecue (Fair Winds Press 2015) by Chris Hart and Andy Husbands