While Louisianian barbecue culture may not have the same clout as its other Southern neighbors, we can certainly hold our own at the grill. We have traditionally celebrated the pig by ways of a boucherie or cochon de lait, but even then, you don’t find the true barbecue calling that permeates the rest of the American South. Things are different in Louisiana, even our outdoor cooking.
So, when barbecue season rolls around and the grills come out, that’s what most folks do… grill. But barbecue is different. It is the low and slow heat and smoke applied over hours in a meticulous and methodical fashion that turn a homely piece of meat into something really magical. One wouldn’t dare grill a brisket. The slab of beef needs a tender rub of salt and spices followed by a lengthy trip to Smoke City.
Much like a gumbo, there are many ways to season a brisket. I personally like the tried-and-true Texas method, which consists of little other than kosher salt and coarse ground black pepper. I’ll often stick with only those elements, allowing the meat and the smoke to do the rest, but sometimes I like to experiment with the mighty brisket. After trimming some fat—but not too much—I give it a rub with a little chipotle chile powder and some locally roasted coffee. The bold, smoky chipotle meets the slightly bitter chocolaty coffee and harmonizes with the salt and pepper. The rendering fat from the side of delicious red meat melts away in the mesquite smoke sauna, creating a delightfully complex flavor.
In barbecue competitions around the country, brisket is generally considered the most difficult cut to conquer, but when done right, it can be the best bite of your life. All hail King Brisket… and bring the sauce.
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- 1 (10- to 12-pound) beef brisket, fat trimmed to ¼ to ½ inch
- ¼ cup kosher salt
- ¼ cup ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons ground chipotle pepper
- 2 tablespoons ground dark roasted coffee, such as River Road Coffee French Roast
- Mesquite wood chips, soaked in water 30 minutes
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Pat brisket dry with paper towels, and place on prepared baking sheet.
- In a small bowl, combine salt, peppers, and coffee. Liberally coat entire brisket with spice mixture. Let brisket stand at room temperature 1 hour.
- Meanwhile, prepare a smoker with wood chips or charcoal according to the manufacturer’s instructions to low and slow (225° to 250°).
- Smoke brisket, rotating and turning every 3 hours, until a dark bark forms, meat is tender, and a meat thermometer registers 195° to 205° when inserted into the thickest portion, about 10 to 12 hours.*
- Remove brisket from smoker, and let rest 25 to 30 minutes before slicing. Slice brisket against grain in ¼-inch slices.
- *If using coal or wood, refill the grill as needed to maintain the temperature throughout the entire cooking process.